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 – LV. My Years at 12A Rue Khantaret Ghamra – My Paternal Family (8 of 9)

Uncle Joseph

Joseph did not come into the world alone. With him was born a twin sister who was either still-born or lived for a brief period. My grandmother was grief-stricken. She often speculated of what might have been had the little one survived. She wanted to have a daughter, my grandfather on the other hand wanted a boy. A cruel fate had given them both, only to take one away at the onset. Helene would have to wait for Angele to be born to finally have that female child.

I was a “first” for all the members of the Ezri family. Another 5 years would go by before Robert was born. I seemed to have been a revelation for uncle Joseph; he probably did not realize to what extent he could fall in love with a small child. While he could be a strict, no nonsense, person, that never applied to me.

I could touch his possessions with impunity. He had a gumbaz (weight-lifting) set, and I was allowed to go and look at it, but not lift any weight for I risked injuring myself. For flexibility, he had two elongated bowling-pin-like implement. I loved to watch him use them. When he was finished with them, he always left them in the same corner. When I played with them, aunt Angele was horrified, but if uncle Joseph was around, he would tell her to let me play.

When I got older and went to visit, the first thing I did when I saw him was to ask for une petite piastre (a nickel) to go buy my favorite candies: Brown, licorice-like taste, and hard like stones. He loved to tease me about my taste and warn me not to break a tooth. He also asked about my school-work, and got silly answers for his efforts.

He was not a demonstrative man, not the kind that would scoop up a child, hug him, and kiss him. However, what I meant to him would become clear decades later.

Let me for a moment shift the scene from the ’40s to 1995. My daughter Rita had just given birth to a boy, Jeremy. My son Michael, at the time, was in Toronto studying for a law degree. The first encounter of uncle and nephew started a love affair that persists to the present day – 16 years later. Michael went nuts! He traveled from Toronto to Ottawa at least once every 2 weeks just to hold a small babe! Later the two would play together by the hours. Nothing was too much for Jeremy; if I even gave a crooked look to his beloved nephew, he would be all over me.

The tender relationship that developed between Michael and Jeremy drove home the point that uncle and nephew can be very close, specially if he is your first. More than once, looking at Jeremy and Michael, the thought crossed my mind: “So this is what I meant for uncle Joseph.”

Joseph remained a bachelor for many years. He led a care-free life, going out with friends and staying up late. He worked as a salesman and could to some extent set his own hours.

He was rarely home for a complete evening. When he did, he would get into his pyjamas and read his newspaper. Joseph considered his pyjamas as an important part of part of his wardrobe. He acquired (or custom made) the best pyjamas money could buy. After all these years, if I have to summon an image of my beloved uncle, it would be with him sporting one of his elegant pyjamas.

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