I haven’t yet told you about my brothers, as charming as they are. I have two, who, as far as I can tell, hate me. At least, neither they, their wives or their children have spoken to me for over two years. Before then, if my older brother and his wife found themselves in the same room as me, they would turn their backs, refusing to speak to me, or even acknowledge me. I can’t tell you why, really I can’t. You’ll have to ask them. I can give you their numbers, if you like.
My mother died last December, a few days before Christmas, six or seven weeks after I arrived in Tel Aviv. My brothers wouldn’t delay the funeral so I couldn’t get back for it. This has, somehow, increased their fury at me. They sent me a text telling me I’m ‘disgusting’.
Still, I want to attend her stonesetting, the consecration of her headstone. They are usually held within a year of the funeral. I sent an email to my older brother about it, with some other questions about her estate. He didn’t answer, so I sent another, asking the same questions in a different order. He replied to this, saying that my mother’s solicitor is handling the probate, but nothing else, nothing about the ceremony. Even if I can’t get back for it, I would like to know, mark it in my own way. I tried twice more, but he replied to neither. Cooperation is not his strongest quality. Still, at least I know it’s me who’s disgusting and they who are noble knights, their silver armour softly burnished by their innate kindness.
It was embarrassing to do so, but I wrote to my solicitor and friend, Denise, to my father’s best friend, Ben, (my father died seven years ago), and to Julia, who sends emails letting people know when the funerals are being held of people from my father’s group of Holocaust survivors, aka The Boys, asking if they could help me.
Later, I went to the Olive Korner for my usual rosé with ice, and looked at Twitter. A car, a couple of metres away, sounded its horn for ten, fifteen, twenty, seconds. This is by no means unusual in Tel Aviv, the noisiest city I have ever been in. There was a red traffic light and a queue of five cars and this driver thought pressing her horn would help, would maybe make the light change more quickly, even. I suppose I’d felt frustrated, just as she had, and that I’d had enough. Reflexively, without thought, I surprised myself, this is not something I’d normally do, I shouted, Shut the fuck up.
She looked to see where the admonishment had come from, began to unwind her window, and continued to sound her horn. Two actions at once, I thought, talented. I repeated myself, Shut the fuck up. She started to argue with me, but I was not in the mood to back down. The cars in front of her started to move, too quickly for me to get up and tell her what I really thought.
I looked back down at my iPad, there were three new emails. Denise would try to find out when my mother’s stonesetting is, Ben’s wife, Arza, had called my sister-in-law and could tell me the date, and Julia knew all the details: it will be on 5th November, at 11.30. I sighed with relief. Kindly, she added that I shouldn’t be embarrassed, families can be strange. That much I know. In Britain, the 5th of November, in case you don’t know, is Bonfire Night, when there are fireworks. I hope to be home by the end of October.
Today’s word: booshuh – shame – בושה
See also: My mother, a toe job