Mottel stands at the Milky kitchen sink and Ruchi at the Meaty one. Sleeves rolled up, both scrubbing pots, their lids and other paraphernalia. Each investing elbow grease to glean a sparkling utensil. The cheerful rivalry between them would have been apparent, if only there were an observer. But there is none. The children are engrossed, quietly and contentedly in eating their light and late supper. The Motzei Shabbos cleanup is an operation in full swing.
Soon the kitchen will be perfectly tidy, spotless, a testament to combined effort and team spirit. The little ones will be tucked up and asleep in no time, no doubt.
There was a boy, a very strange enchanted boy; they say he wandered very far, very far, over land and sea….
His guitar case open on his bed, Cody sits at his desk, a pen in hand. A spotlight hangs from above. He puts the pen down, lifts his instrument, and strums a chord or two. He feels inspired, in creative mode, something good will spring forth, he knows instinctively.
A little shy, and sad of eye, but very wise was he…
It was five years ago, that he had left, left the circle. Land that he knew, people that he had loved, and they had loved him too. But it was ideologically untrue he had felt, and so, he had since wandered very far, very far.
He pens a word it becomes a sentence. No one disturbs him. No one at all. There is no one. She has not found him yet. Perhaps because he isn’t really the outgoing type.
The children are asleep; Ruchi presents Motel with a coffee and some cake, fancy pastry, all home produce, beautifully arranged on a small and simple dish. They discuss this year’s Purim theme. Mexican dancers the kids will be, with maroon hats and outfits. Ruchi shows him some matching gift bags, that really are just perfect.
And then one day, one magic day he passed my way…
“Volcanic Ash, Molten Rock, Lava flow…” he writes. Not quite right, he thinks. It hits Cody like a thunder bolt, Mottel! Mottel! How was Mottel?
Cody and Motel were soul mates, best of friends in days gone by. Cody had left before Motel had married. Such a kind and genuine soul Motel was, a kindered spirit, Cody thought. The only one that had not disowned him after he had left, who had not judged him for leaving.
Cody knew that in Motel’s heart there was doubt. He too doubted the way. But Motel was not the type to uproot; to leave behind wanton pain and desolation.
Sifting through his meagre few belongings that had faithfully come along on this epic journey, he finds his blue book. His heart pounds, as he dials Motel’s number.
While we spoke of many things fools and kings….
Motel tells Cody. He tells him of Freidi, Chaim, Suri and Zishe. How Freidi has pale blonde hair, and has the sweetest face, the deepest eyes. “She is a bright kid,” he says.
Ruchi leaves Mottel to it. She plants a silent peck on Mottel’s cheek, and leaves for bed.
Cody learns how Zishe, Motel’s youngest, had started school this term. Motel learns that Cody is a musician and a singer. He has a small gig here and there, nothing steady and nothing big though.
“There are no girls at the moment,” Cody says.
Cody asks about the system, whether things are still the same. He asks if the Dayan still was at the Yeshiva on Thursdays. The Dayan had enjoyed their inquiring innovations and they had had a reciprocative soft spot for him too. Motel says he doesn’t know, and that he hardly sees the Dayan now.
Cody asks if Meir still aimlessly wanders the streets muttering profusely. They both laugh. They used to accompany Meir together on his pointless patrols, Chesky and Motel back in the day. Motel tells him that Meir still asks how and where, the other guy, “Der Andere chevreman”, is. Motel says that by that he means Cody, Chesky.
“Your wife, Ruchi, isn’t it?” “Yes” says Motel. “How is she?” Motel tells Cody how they had just skilfully and efficiently done battle and won over the Motzei Shabbos chaos; that the kids were now sound asleep in bed.
“Do you and Ruchi, love each other” Cody blurts out in an upfront and darting interjection. Cody knows the system well, and is unapologetic about having asked such a question as he waits for an answer.
Motel sighs, he does not know what to say.
Cody lifts his guitar and tells Motel to listen up. A gentle strum becomes a furious burst and Cody emits a heaven piercing cry:
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love, and be loved in return…”
With that they end the catch-up call, and they both hang up.
The lyrics and Cody’s raw and authentic voice still resonate strongly, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return…”
Motel walks into the boys room, he watches Zishe asleep. He kisses Zishe with laden eyes. He walks into Freidi’s room, he stands there for a while. He kisses Freidi who stirs in her sleep, “… Just to love and be loved in return…”
He makes his way towards the master bedroom, Did he love Ruchi? Did he love Ruchi? What a complex question. He often wonders that. He paces the length of the hallway, back and forth, endlessly.
Ruchi is fast asleep. He gazes at her. Her chest rises and falls with every breath, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.”
Far away, Cody finishes his verse, and packs the guitar in its carry case. At 1 am, he locks the door and gets into bed, alone.
Motel makes his way into Ruchi’s bed. Gently he caresses her forehead as a verse regurgitates itself in his head in seamless repetition: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.”
Ruchi is awake. She wipes Motel’s tears with her thumb, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return…” They embrace as one.Printable Version