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 – XLI. My Years at 12A Rue Khantaret Ghamra – My Parents (1 of 2)

Raising children will take you atop Mount Olympus to dwell with the gods! For many years you will know everything and can solve all problems. And then, suddenly, with their young brains addled by hormones, your children will consider you as a complete ignoramus!

This will be followed by the adolescent years where, day in and day out, you will have to confront their dangerous “wisdom.”

The twenties are relatively quiet years. (But there are many exceptions to what I just said).

The thirties, forties, and perhaps part of the fifties are the “blame years.” By then, inevitably, a number of things would have gone wrong in their lives; and as the parents you’re an ideal scapegoat. “If only my parents would have said this, or done that, I would not …”

Here, I am writing about my parents in my seventies. It’s an ideal age to do so; by now, I am no longer looking for perfection in people, least of all two people that raised a child from babyhood to adulthood. They made their share of errors, but most of their decisions were sound. Put another way, the positive far surpasses the negative; and this can be seen as I travel back in time to look at them with a new eye.

My mother

As soon as I was old enough, my mother freely confided in me. I mainly listened, and was discreet; nothing was ever repeated – to this day. The main theme was how hard it was to live with my father, and she was right. But I also figured (with the help of comments from other adults) that she could be a difficult person to deal with.

My father rarely complained to me. At most he would tell me that he finds it impossible to understand my mother. (Introduce me to a man who claims he can figure out his wife!)

Fola (mom’s nickname) freely talked of many other matters. At a time when parents carefully avoided the subject, my mother talked of sex. Mind you, the information imparted was largely erroneous! But you need to remember that this were the 1940s.

She also narrated some of the Bible stories. I still remember the day she told me the tale of Adam and Eve. You never saw a more frustrated child in your life. Had Eve and then Adam not eaten the apple, and disobeyed God, we would all be living in a beautiful garden. Dad would not need to go to work, mom could relax all day, and above all, I would not have to go to school. She made the point that we would have a life without challenges, and with nothing to do. But that was lost on me. I was too young to understand such subtleties.

Reading was a religion in our house. We had four shelves of (French) books, an unusual thing for the time. I bought my own books, and eventually my mother gave me my own shelf. As for the other books, mom gradually allowed me to read them as I matured. She actually sorted the books by shelves. All the books on the top shelf on the right were accepted reading material for a boy of my age. In time, I was allowed to move on to the next shelf, and so on. Did I ever cheat and read books from a “forbidden” shelf?  Yes, of course, but rarely. My mother has trusted me and I largely returned this trust.

In addition to reading countless books, Fola read the French newspapers: Le Journal D’Egypte, and La Bourse Egyptienne. She did not read any Arabic newspapers since, as already mentioned, she was illiterate in that language.

Mom took excellent care of Robert and me. She made sure we ate properly. She closely followed our education; when it came to homework, she was more demanding than the teachers. Finally, when we were sick, she proved to be an outstanding nurse. I will talk of all that in the applicable sections.

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