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 – Egypt – CLXX. The Second Exodus (5 of 6)

The last day

The last day was really 2 days: 1 day to travel from Cairo to Alexandria, and the 2nd day to get to the Alexandria port to board the Aeolia that would take us to Genoa, Italy.

The goodbyes were long and painful. They started when we made our decision to leave. The most affected was Madame Marie, the landlady; she has always liked us and appreciated the help Nessim had provided over the years.

Our building was under rent control, and increasing the rent was an ordeal. Every year, Nessim visited all tenants and asked for a modest increase; and he invariably obtained it. Mind you, Marie was a widow that solely relied on the rental income to support her family of 6, under the circumstances, it was difficult to refuse dad.

Marie visited us many times during that period, and mom reciprocated. Without fail, the visit included crying and hugging. The episode that produced copious tears, was when we gave Marie the fola.

A fola (I don’t know the English name) is a plant that produces little white flowers during the summer, the flowers has an exquisite, albeit persistent, smell. When we sat on our balcony during hot summer nights, we were enveloped by the scent of the flowers; however, we enjoyed the fola for only a short period. When we went to Alexandria during July and August we gave our fola to Marie to take care of it. There came a day when mom told Marie that she now had to give her the fola – for good this time.

Across from us was an Armenian family, the Kassabians. We became friends, and mom especially liked their young daughter, Thérèse; the two would chat by the hours, often about the male of the species! They refused to accept the fact that we were leaving and that we would never see each other again.

We had one Muslim tenant in the building (I no longer remember the name); relations with this family were cordial, no more. But then they surprised when they all (husband, wife, and their only daughter) came one night to bid us goodbye. They said that they were sincerely sorry to see us go. The daughter having gone to a French school spoke an impeccable French, she asked many questions in French regarding our immediate and future plans and repeatedly wished us good luck. Before leaving, the husband said, “I wish it could have been different.” Yes, indeed, we all would have wanted it to be different.

All the other families in the building were Jewish, and one family, Ovadia, had already left for Australia. When we said our goodbyes to these families (who were sooner or later going to leave too), they expressed the hope that we would see each other again, in another place and at another time. Indeed, we saw at least three of these families in Israel.

We had so much luggage, we needed two taxis to take us to the train station. To get a taxi back then, you had to go on the street and hail it. Most people had no phones, as well, there was no central office, and no dispatcher. I doubt there were even taxi companies. So what did we do?

We called the ba’ob (janitor) and asked him to get us the required cabs. Eventually, the taxis showed up at the door of our building. Both the two drivers and the ba’ob took our valises and placed them in the cars; there were barely any room left for us, but we managed to squeeze in. Before leaving, dad offered a substantial tip to the ba’ob, but to our surprise he refused to accept it. La’a ya khawaga Ezri (no Mr. Ezri); he then added, Allah ma’akom (may God be with you).

The two taxi drivers got two porters for us, came to the train and helped us fit our suitcases; they were paid handsomely for their help.

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