The Lucky One. (Part I)
The Lucky One. (Part I)7 mins 261 7 mins 261
The moon was levitating from the star-lit sky as if someone had lit up a lamp. Shaina walked back from the narrow unfinished road of her village pacing each step to avoid being caught by her parents, or, being noticed by some acquaintance. The quiet on the road frightened her but she kept moving, holding the hem of her skirt in one hand, and, the kerosene lamp in another.
That night as Shaina was returning back after her illegitimate meeting with Aejaz, she saw Akeel, a goon in their village molest and rape her friend Samaira. Shaina wanted to help her, scream out loud even, but by the time she had seen all of it, it was too late.
Akeel was on his way back to his dim-lit hutment with an almost emptied bottle of the country in his left hand... The moment he entered through the door and collapsed on the floor Shaina rushed to console Samaira. Shaina helped Samaira with her own shawl so that she could somehow manage to reach back home without anyone noticing her torn clothes. Samaira was quite composed. It wasn’t her first time.
Shaina and her parents belonged to the agriculture-based kibbutz community in Israel which was formed in 1909. About 48 years from their formation the family was still struggling to adapt to the practices of the community. Being the only child of Abdullah and Sakia Rahman, Shaina too had to live with the restrictive impositions to be able to be accepted by the community. But there were some days that were really bad. That day was one. The lonely road through which Shaina scuffled her feet, and, her mind, was nothing less than the spooky glow-wormy caves in Waitomo’s Ruakari caves in New Zealand. She hoped to move faster but couldn’t. Even the minutest 60 seconds seemed like 6 minutes and all she had to her disposal was hope.
Sakia was the daughter of Edna Benowitz who had married a handsome Asad Shaikh. It had been quite an affair and a pretty 19-year-old Edna had beautifully adapted to the Shaikh household as the newly wedded ‘Ada Shaikh’, after her marriage with Asad. Sakia was born two years later and just like her mother was married in the nearby Rahman household when she was 19. Unlike Sakia, however, Shaina was blessed with the love of both her grandparents. Very soon she was to wed AejaZ Ahmad.
Aejaz was a farmer who belonged to the moshav community, another agricultural community like the kibbutz. His family was into cultivating corn, sorghum, and jowar for a good three generations and he too had decided to follow their steps. When Aejaz had first seen Shaina, he was captivated by her simplicity and elegance. It was as if Natalie Ciccoricco’s mesmerizing artwork had come to life. Like the infinite scope for exploration of juxtaposition between the geometric shapes and organic elements that her artwork depicts, he felt, Shaina was the much-needed hope and beauty in his life to come. Shaina too had liked him and felt at home with him. It was as if she could feel their souls knit together and their families were only a medium to bring them closer in a marital union in the physical world. She was waiting for the day of her ‘Nikah’ with Aejaz which was only six years later.
Shaina loved her maternal grandmother, Edna, aka Ada a lot more than anyone else in her family. Ada not only had the loving Jewish upbringing that she brought to the Shaikh family, but she also brought a lot of wisdom with herself, to lead her life with grace, beauty, and peace. Shaina idolized her grandma for these qualities and wanted to be like her, in her marriage with Aejaz. Six years just flew by and the time came when Shaina could finally stop her despicable late-night rounds to the Ahmad farms. Consequentially, she no more had to gasp for breath as she tortured her feet through the rusty long village road after her brief time with Aejaz for which they both used to wait until the end of every month. A month was too long to wait for ...Really...
World War I had come to an end and like every other person on the face of this earth, the Rahman’s and the Shaikh’s were left with some direct and indirect scars. But what was more horrific was the second world war. However, this time, it was going to scar Edna more than anyone else in her household...
Edna, who was now Ada Shaikh, had a big family that resided in Poland. With the inception of the mass killings of the Jews, she would sometimes get the news of her long-lost relatives being gassed, slaved, and killed. With each passing day, her guilt of not being able to save them by letting them into her current household consumed her but she had no choice. When she’d married Asad, to become Ada for his family, none of her family members had supported their alliance.
What was left between the two families was nothing less than a sea of bitterness. And with so many years being passed without any contact she even did not know the whereabouts of her immediate family, leave alone the distant ones. Sometimes she would hear about her long-lost friends with whom she had managed to stay in touch, sometimes through letters, sometimes through telegram. She had a brother who she particularly missed because he had been through with her in her difficult times and had helped her elope with Asad. Even he was no able to be a part of her life in the open for fear of reliction from his own community. But he loved her dearly and wished only the best for Edna. His name was Ariel. Ariel Acker.
Ariel and Edna were nearby the same age when she got married but it took Ariel about ten years after her to settle down. He married a gorgeous Jewish girl, Avigal Bach, the only daughter of Breina Bach, a widow. Avigal was a teacher at a primary school in Poland and happened to meet Ariel at common friends’ house warming party. The moment their eyes met it was magic. It was as if the gods had conspired their union. After that night at their friend’s house, they found each other waiting for each other or daydreaming about each other. It was as if a love spell was cast on them and with each passing day, their bond grew deeper.
Very soon it was the talk of the town and Mrs. Bach, who was quite a high-flying social butterfly, got to know about her daughter from one of her friends at a cocktail party. She immediately summoned Ariel and was very impressed at her daughter’s choice. Ariel too managed to impress his would-be mother-in-law with his charming personality and etiquettes and in the first meeting itself he asked for Avigal’s hand in marriage. Mrs. Bach agreed without any hesitation and asked Ariel to speak to his parents about the alliance. There was no issue with the Acker’s as Avigal had already met them and they were very eager to have her as a part of their family. The only condition from the Bach’s was that Mrs. Bach would have to be accommodated somewhere close to wherever Ariel and Avigal would live towards the end of her life as there was no one else to look after her. The Acker’s agreed to that as well and the wedding ceremony happened in a quiet manner in the backyard of the Bach’s.
After the marriage, however, Mrs. Bach decided to stay away from her daughter. She felt that she wasn’t that old yet and could take care of herself. Besides, her daughter was only just married and she did not want to be an interference in her new life. Mrs. Bach decided to travel around the world with her husband’s wealthy disposition at her discourse as the Acker’s household was buzzing with joy with the new entry in their house. Within a year Ariel and Avigal decided to move to Israel. Somehow, Ariel always seemed to miss Edna a lot. After his marriage to Avigal, his association with his extended family in Poland wasn’t as strong. All that mattered to him was that his parents followed suit. With much contemplation, they agreed. With the invasion of Poland and the potential threat to the Jews, the makeshift made much sense. Fortunately, Avigal had already applied to a school and had been offered quarters for accommodation which gave Ariel some time to look out for a job and make all the necessary arrangements.