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 – Israel – CCLXXXII. The Opposite Sex (5 of 5)

A matrimonial agency was of no help to Moshiko either.  He met Clara through mutual friends.

The same thing more or less happened to me.

At IAI, there was an Egyptian storekeeper whom I had befriended.  He had a niece he insisted I had to meet.  After putting up a symbolic resistance, I yielded.

I was agreeably surprised, for the niece in question was not a difficult case the family was attempting to unload; she was pretty, smart, and well-educated; indeed, the only reason I was approached was that the family favored an Egyptian young man.

I will not provide you with her real name, and I have actually changed some of the details.  At the end of this narration, it will become clear why I did so.

Yocheved was a happy soul.  She had an easy laughter and a love for life which I found in few other people I had met.  She was a delight to be with and could make me happy even when I was down.

She loved to cook, and share a meal with friends and loved ones.  My main “shortcoming” in her eyes was that I was a small eater.  The portions of food she served me I jokingly referred to them as being for the “whole day.”

She loved children with a passion.  Her talk often revolved around her nieces and nephews.  She could not see a baby or a toddler without stopping to coo or talk to him or her.  To say that she loved children is to narrow the field for she indeed loved all people.  She could strike a conversation with a stranger while we were waiting at a bus stop, and any casual onlooker would have thought that these two people were long-time friends.

Despite her young age, she had a responsible position in a bank.  She was well organized and careful with her money.  Life with Yocheved would have been stable, with a well-run household, and a second income to help with the family budget.

We dated for 6 months during which time I never heard a cross word from her.  There was mutual attraction, but not the all-consuming passion which burns itself out and leave ashes in its wake, because it cannot last.

But there was a fly in the ointment.

Had I met Yocheved a year earlier we would have walked down the aisle!  I doubt there would have been any hurdles.  Unfortunately, when we started dating, I was giving serious consideration to immigrating to Canada.

I was frank with her from the beginning, but she never took my plans seriously.  At any rate she made it clear that she loved Israel and would not consent to go to any other country.

There came a day when I had my immigration visa.  But we still went out together for a while.  Perhaps she had a secret hope that I would after all stay in Israel; perhaps I wished that she would consent to go to Canada, the land of snow and affluence (the first part was true, the second, not so much!)

The end eventually came when she told me that she was going out with an Egyptian young man, an engineer with a good job.  One day, she informed me that they were engaged; and she insisted that I meet him.  And so the three of us met in a bet café around a coffee.  He was a good talker; indeed he monopolized the conversation which was filled with his future projects.

At a later date, Yocheved called me at work to ask my opinion; I told her that I liked him; but it was a lie; what else could I have said, after all they were already engaged.

This story should end here, but it doesn`t!  If only human affairs were that simple!

Fast-forward 28 years!

It`s 1992, I am revisiting Israel to see my relatives and to sightsee.

Among other things, I looked through the telephone directory to see if I can find Yocheved.  She probably didn`t keep her maiden name, it was not customary for women to do so back then.  However, I knew the surname of her husband.

Yocheved answered the phone.  When I notified her that I was in Israel, and that I called to say hello, there was a silence, followed by, “that’s nice.”  The conversation was short and came to an abrupt end.

Again, this is not the end of that story!

In the evening, I got a call from her daughter; she spoke to me in perfect English.  What she told me was a tale of woes.  (Finding me was not easy; she looked for the name of Ezri in the directory, spoke with a person that didn’t know me; called another Ezri who informed her that I was staying by my aunt, and gave her the phone number).

Her dad was a bastard!  He was an abusive husband and father.  He founded an engineering company; did very well; opened a branch in London; and eventually established himself in England.  She and her sister mostly grew up there and hated it.  Yocheved didn’t see her family for many years.  In his forties, he died suddenly and left a mess behind him!

He was secretive about his work; felt that his wife should run their household, and no more; therefore, she knew nothing about his business.

His employees wanted to buy his firm; but Yocheved would have none of it.  She spent a year learning the ins and outs of the enterprise; eventually downsized it, and moved it back to Israel.

During those difficult years, Yocheved remembered me many times; “if only Roland…”  In time she came to hate me!  It may seem strange since I played a minor and indirect role in that whole drama.  But humans are more emotional than rational.  I understood that many years later; but at the time, I resented the brusqueness of Yocheved.

I talked with that young lady for over one hour.  It was more a question of unburdening herself than of informing me and explaining her mother’s reaction.  She also wanted to know who I was since her mother had often mentioned me.

At the end, she apologized for her mother’s behavior, and wished me a wonderful stay in Israel.

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