Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Canada – CCCXXVI. Difficult Beginnings (9 of 15)

Foufou had three close Iraqi friends who like us had lived for many years in Israel.  The five of us spend a lot of time together; therefore, allow me to introduce them.

Magdi was the oldest among us.  He was short, bald, and had what seemed like a perpetual frown on his face.  He was very tight with his money; expenditures were closely scrutinized before he agreed to part with his precious dollars; that said, if he borrowed money, he always repaid it.  He was a superb cook, and when he invited us to his home, he didn`t spare the expense.  (No surprise here, human nature is often a bundle of contradictions).  An invitation by Magdi was a promise of a meal you won`t soon forget.

He was very fond of the fair sex; alas his attention was rarely returned.  Nature is cruel; the female of the species pay close attention to looks; and there, Magdi was not particularly blessed.  Thus, he continuously lamented that he was not lucky with women.

(Most Iraqis kept their Arabic names when they immigrated to Israel; thus, even though, Fouad and his friends had Arabic names, they were very much Jewish).

(This is my opportunity to remind my readers that while in some cases I could remember the actual name of a given individual, in many other instances, I had to substitute an adequate name).

Gamal was the roommate of Magdi.  He relied entirely on his friend for managing their household; Magdi cooked, cleaned, and was in charge of the budget.  Gamal was quiet and rarely contributed to the conversation.  He was an engineer, and his shy nature belied his intellect.  When finding work in his field proved difficult, he took a job as a technician.  He was slender, and had that cute looks that women can’t resist.  As far as I know there was no jealousy between the roomies and the two got along well.  But there was one exception.

A female friend of Gamal came from Israel ostensibly to visit Canada.  She stayed in his apartment.  So far so good; but matters deteriorated when Gamal “benefited” from his visitor.  A very distraught Magdi came to us one day to complain that Gamal was having sex with his guest; and yet, that same person was not willing to extend the same privilege to Magdi!  Foufou had great difficulties explaining to Magdi that women do not ladle out sex to all comers; they are choosy; and that ultimately is their prerogative.  I would be lying to you if I said that Magdi was convinced; but at least he no longer claimed his share of the spoils; and left the turtledoves alone.

The trio was completed by Nabil.  He had inherited a substantial amount of money, and was living on the income derived from his investments.  I cannot begin to tell how much Foufou and I envied him.  How nice it would have been to be in his position:  no more breaking your back to eke out a living; no more dealing with snarly bosses; and no more waking up at ungodly hours and going out in the bitter cold.  Nabil slept in and used his days any way he wished; in the evening he went out and enjoyed the night life Montreal had to offer.

Today, with the benefit of maturity I no longer envy Nabil; indeed, I pity him.  This is so well said in the quote that follows:

“Much of what a mortal would call good luck might really be bad luck; the smile of fortune that bestows unearned leisure and undeserved wealth may be the greatest of human afflictions; the apparent cruelty of a perverse fate that heaps tribulations upon some suffering mortal may in reality be the tempering fire that is transmuting the soft iron of immature personality into the tempered steel of real character.”  [Source:  The Urantia Book].

At a later date, Foufou would tell me that Nabil had health problems that doctors were unable to explain, much less address.

Even back then, it was occurring to us that Nabil was not to be envied after all.

Whenever possible, the five of us would go out together to a restaurant.  We had two favorite spots.

At the corner of Ste. Catherine East and Bleury was a restaurant called “Place des Amis.”  (The Place of Friends).  And it lived up to its name.

The menu there read like an encyclopedia; and you were given the necessary time to peruse it.  Indeed, you were never rushed.  The waiters and waitresses were super friendly; but to talk of the servers is to narrow the field; if you came alone, be prepared to move to another table, or at least to interact with a group(s).

The time spent at this restaurant with friends (all friends, not only the ones I came with) has provided me with some of the most beautiful memories of that period.

The other one was a pizza house; I no longer remember the name; what I do remember was that it was renowned for his pizzas and salads; Montrealers came from far and wide to eat there.  It was a plain restaurant with wooden tables.  There were no pretenses; you paid for your food in advance, and picked it at the counter.  As well, there was a lot of take out.

Well known personalities frequented the place.  I have no doubt that we rubbed shoulders with powerful politicians (both Federal and Provincial) or potential shooting stars.  My friends did not understand French and could therefore not follow their conversation; I understood them, but knew very little about the politics of my new country; thus, being with members of the upper crust proved of no value to us.

These friends were at the time an important part of my life; they were a beacon of light in an otherwise somber period.

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