Cover image for The loves of Judith
The loves of Judith
Shalev, Meir.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Ke-yamim aḥadim. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
Hopewell, N.J. : Ecco Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
315 pages ; 24 cm
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The extraordinary story of three men in the Jezreel Valley & their love for Judith & her son, whom each man participates in raising as his own.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In this marvelous and beguiling story, translator Harshav has captured in English some of the rich concreteness and minor-key rhythms of the original Hebrew. We listen to the voice of Zayde as he tells the story of his mother, Judith, who was loved by three Israeli men--Moshe, Sheinfeld, and Globerman--but would never reveal which one fathered her son. The three men all love Judith, and each treats Zayde like the son he is to one of them. Zayde spins the story of his mother's life and his own from early in the century to her death in 1950, and with it a web that will hold readers in every word. Descriptions of simple, earthy food make the mouth yearn for olives and bread and cheese, while magical images transfix the imagination: Moshe taking a shower outdoors "like a bear on a rock in the river." All kinds of love pour down the pages like honey: Moshe's daughter Naomi's for Judith, who was neither mother nor sister; an Italian POW's for Sheinfeld, whom he taught to cook and dance; Judith's undying love for the daughter who was taken from her. Full of light and color, the tale unfolds like a flower with a captivating scent. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

"A mensh trakht un Gott lakht." This Yiddish expression meaning "man plans and God laughs" appears more than once in Shalev's appealing third novel (after Esau), in which mythic storytelling lucidly elaborates on the workings of love and fate. Zayde, the narrator, grows up in Israel's Jezreel Valley in the 1940s and '50s, confused but protected by a name that signifies "grandfather." His mother, Judith, reasons that if "the Angel of Death comes and sees a little boy named Zayde (Grandfather), he understands right away that there's a mistake here and he goes to someplace else." But while Judith's attempt to trick Fate saves the life of her illegitimate son many times, it helps lead to her own demise. Her story, and those of the three men who love her, each claiming Zayde as his son, are revealed during four ornate meals prepared for Zayde by one of his "fathers," Jacob Sheinfeld. Twelve-year-old Zayde first visits Jacob almost two years after his mother's death. He returns three times over the next 29 years to let his memories intertwine with Jacob's. The tales of those who have loved Judith are epic. Oxlike Moshe Rabinovitch, briefly married to Judith after the death of his wife, still searches for his blonde braid cut off at adolescence and hidden by his mother. Sheinfeld is taught to dance, cook and sew in preparation for a wedding Fate cannot destroy (but does). Only Globerman, Zayde's third "father," a shrewd cattle dealer, is earthbound, but the unique legacies all three fathers leave their shared son seal the unwieldy family's destiny. Told in a euphonic voice and employing the magic conventions of a fairytale, this is a heartwarming narrative agleam with moments of plangent sadness, rueful humor and compassionate insight. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Shalev is a gifted Israeli author of books for children and adults (My Father Always Embarrasses Me, Wellington, 1991). In this mesmerizing novel, a man whose names means grandfather (Zayde) in Hebrew shares the stories of the three men who are his father. Jacob Sheinfeld is a farmer who forsakes his beautiful wife, Rebecca, to raise canaries and pursue Judith. Moshe Rabinovitch is a widowed farmer who is obsessed with his dead wife, his lost childhood braid, and Judith. A cattle dealer, Globerman, whom everyone loves and hates at the same time, is also in love with Judith. The relationships among these three men, Judith, son Zayde, and their fellow villagers and the animals they tend are magical, mythical, and wonderful. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.‘Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One 1 On warm days, a soft smell of milk rises from the walls of my house. The walls are plastered and whitewashed, tiles cover the ground, but from the pores of the walls and the cracks of the floor, the smell rises to me, persists, steals in like the sweat of an ancient love.     Once my house was a cowshed. The house of a horse and a she-ass and a few milk cows. It had a wide wooden door, with an iron bolt across it, concrete troughs, yokes for cattle, jugs, cans, and milking stations.     And a woman lived in the cowshed, she worked and slept in it, dreamed and wept. And on a bed of sacks she gave birth to her son.     Doves walked back and forth on the ridge of the roof, in the remote corners the swallows were fussing over their nests of mud, and the fluttering of their wings was so pleasant I feel it even now, softening the expression on my face, smoothing the wrinkles of age and anger as it rises in my memory.     In the morning, the sun illuminated squares of windows on the walls and gilded the dust particles dancing in the air. Dew gathered on the lids of the jugs and field mice scurried over the bundles of straw like small gray lightning bolts.     The she-ass, as my mother told me the memories she wanted to preserve in me, was wild and very wise, and even in her sleep she would kick, and when you wanted to ride on her back, Zayde, she would gallop to the door, bow down, and pass under the bar of the bolt, and if you didn't jump off her back in time, Zayde meyn kind , the iron bar hit your chest and brought you down. The she-ass also knew how to steal barley from the horse and how to laugh out loud and how to rap on the door of the house with her hoof to get some candy.     And a mighty eucalyptus tree rose up in the yard, its boughs wide, fragrant, and always rustling. No one knew who had planted it or what wind had borne its seed. Bigger and older than all its brothers in the nearby eucalyptus forest, it stood in its place and waited long before the village was founded. I often climbed it because crows nested in its crest and even then I was observing their ways.     By now my mother is dead and the tree has been cut down and the cowshed has become a house and the crows have taken off and new ones have come, returning to their dust and hatching out of their eggs. And nevertheless, those crows and those stories and that cowshed and that eucalyptus--they're the anchors, the eternal pictures of my life.     The tree was about sixty feet high, the crows' nest was close to its crest, and in the thicket of its lower branches you could see the remnants of the "Tarzan hut" of children who climbed up and nested in it before I was born.     In the old aerial photos of the British air force and in the stories of the villagers it is clearly visible, but today all that's left of it is an immense stump, with the date it was cut down seared in it like the date of death on a tombstone: December 10, 1950. Moshe Rabinovitch, the man whose yard I grew up in and whose cowshed I live in, the man who gave me his name and bequeathed me his farm, came back from burying my mother, sharpened his big axe, and put the tree to death. 2 For three days Rabinovitch chopped down the tree.     Over and over again the axe swung up, and over and over again it came down. Around and around the man chopped, moaned and swung, groaned and struck.     A short man, Rabinovitch, taciturn and broad, with thick, short hands. Even today, in old age, the villagers call him "Rabinovitch the Ox" because of his strength and his passivity, and the third generation of children play the "awful bear" with him: in one hand, he holds three thin arms of three children, and shrieking and laughing, they can't get out of his grip.     Chips and sighs flew, tears and sweat dripped, snowflakes swirled around, and even though differences of opinion erupt here about every memory--they don't argue in our village about that act of vengeance, and every baby knows the details:     A dozen towels Rabinovitch used to wipe his face and the back of his neck.     Eight axe handles he broke and replaced.     Twenty-four quarts of water and six pots of tea he drank.     Once every half hour, he honed the blade of the axe with the whetstone and a steel file.     Nine loaves of bread with sausage he ate, and one crate of oranges.     Seventeen times he sank onto the snow and sixteen times he got up and went on hitting.     And the whole time, his thirty-two teeth were clamped and his ten fingers were clenched and his weeping breath steamed in the cold, until the great screech of the break was heard and the loud sigh of the onlookers, like the murmur that arose in the community center when the lights were turned out, but louder and more scared.     And then the shouts of alarm and the patter of feet fleeing and afterward the clamor of death, and there's no simile for it except to say the thing itself: the clamor of the fall and death of a big tree, and everyone who heard it will never forget it--the explosion of the splitting and the roar of the fall and the whiplash of the crash to the ground.     Those aren't like the sounds of a human being's death, but then the sounds of the life of a tree and of a human being are also different, and they leave behind different silences after they go.     The silence of the hewn tree is a curtain of darkness soon rent by the shouts of people, by the rippling gusts of wind, and by the cries of birds and beasts. And the quiet that filled the world at my mother's death is thin and clear, and so, lucid and crystal, it stands and doesn't melt away.     Here it is, with me, next to all the noises of the world. It doesn't swallow them and they don't blend with it. 3 Flikt di mame federn, federn un pukh, zaydelen--a kishele fun helln-roytn tukh . I knew that song even before I understood what it means. It tells of a mother plucking feathers to make her son a down quilt with a pink cloth cover.     Many mothers, I imagine, sang that song to their children, and every one put in the name of her own child. "Zaydele" was me. That wasn't a nickname that stuck to me, but my real name. "Zayde," which means grandfather, is the name my mother gave me when I was born.     For years I've wanted to change it. But I don't. At first I didn't have the courage, then I didn't find the strength, and finally we gave up, my name and I, and we've made peace with one another.     I was only a few months old when Mother sewed the cover and sang me the song, but even so, I seem to remember those nights well. Winters were cold in Moshe Rabinovitch's cowshed, while in summer Mother negotiated with our neighbor Eliezer Papish, who raised geese, and in exchange for his goose down, she sewed clown quilts for him and his whole family.     By the way, we called Eliezer Papish the "Village Papish" to distinguish him from his rich brother, who sold tools and building supplies in Haifa and was called the "City Papish," and maybe I'll tell about him, too, later on.     So, my name is Zayde, Zayde Rabinovitch. My mother's name is Judith, and in the village they called her Rabinovitch's Judith. A good smell of lemon leaves wafted from her hands and a blue kerchief was always wound around her head. She was hard of hearing in her left ear and she got mad when anyone talked to her on that side.     My father's name nobody knows. I am illegitimate, and three men claimed me as their son.     From Moshe Rabinovitch, I inherited a farm and a cowshed and yellow hair.     From Jacob Sheinfeld I inherited a fine house, fine furnishings, empty canary cages, and drooping shoulders.     And from Globerman the cattle dealer, I inherited a knipele of money and my gigantic feet.     And despite that complication, my name was crueler for me than the circumstances of my birth. I wasn't the only child in the village or the Valley sired by a father who was unknown or a father that wasn't his; but in the entire country, maybe even in the world, there wasn't another child whose name was Zayde. In school they called me Methuselah and "Gramps," and every time I came home and complained about that name she gave me and wanted to know why, Mother explained simply: "If the Angel of Death comes and sees a little boy named Zayde, Grandfather, he understands right away that there's a mistake here and he goes to someplace else."     Since I had no choice, I was convinced that my name protected me against death and I became a child who knew no fear. Even the primeval dreads that reside in the heart of every human being before he's born were eradicated in me.     Fearlessly, I would hold out my hands to the snakes nesting in the crevices of the chicken coop, and they would watch me, winding their necks inquisitively, and didn't hurt me.     Often I climbed up on the roof of the cowshed and ran along the steep slope of shingles with my eyes shut.     I engaged my heart to approach the village dogs who were always tied up and had become thirsty for blood and revenge, and they wagged their tails amiably at me and licked my hand.     And once, when I was an eight-year-old grandfather, a pair of crows attacked me as I climbed up to their nest. A hard black blow landed on my forehead and I spun around and lost my grip on the branch. Swooning with delight, I dropped down and down. Soft embraces of branches slowed my fall, and my landing was padded by the expected bed of leaves, the soft ground, and my mother's superstition.     I got up and ran home and Mother applied iodine to my scratches.     "The Angel of Death is an orderly angel. He's got a pencil, he's got a notebook, and he writes down everything," she laughed, the way she laughed whenever I was saved; "but you can't count on the Malakh-fun-shlof . That Angel of Sleep never writes down anything and never remembers. Sometimes he comes and sometimes he falls asleep himself and forgets."     The Angel of Death would always pass by me, and I felt only the hem of his cloak grazing the skin of my face. But once, in the autumn of 1949, a few months before my mother's death, I also saw him face-to-face.     I was about ten years old. The Village Papish's enormous mare was in heat, our stallion heard her neigh in her rutting and started running wild inside our fence. He was a good-natured chestnut-colored horse. Moshe Rabinovitch, who did everything "just right," and therefore didn't fraternize with his livestock more than was acceptable and proper, indulged him with caresses and carobs, and once I even saw him plaiting the horse's tail into a thick yellow braid, with blue ribbons woven in as decoration.     He even refused to geld the stallion despite all demands and advice. "That's cruelty to animals," he said.     Sometimes the stallion would get an erection and bang his member against his belly. Hour after hour he would do that, with great and desperate persistance. "Poor soul," Globerman the cattle dealer then said; "his balls they left to him. A female they don't give to him. And hands he ain't got. So what can he do?"     That night, the stallion leaped over the fence and mated with the mare, and in the morning, Moshe gave me his halter and sent me to bring him back. "You'll look him straight in the eyes," he said, "and tell him c'mon-c'mon-c'mon-c'mon. But if he'll make eyes at you, don't have nothing to do with him--you hear me, Zayde? Leave him alone at once and call me."     It was early in the morning. The bleating of hungry, impatient calves was borne on the air. The scolding of farmers at their dreamy milking was heard. The Village Papish was already running around the pen, shouting and cursing, but the couple didn't pay any attention to anything. Their eyes were misty with love, their loins were dripping, their horse smell was enriched with new tones.     "You came to take the stallion?" exclaimed the Village Papish. "Rabinovitch has maybe lost his marbles? To send a little boy?"     "He's milking," I said.     "Milking? I could be milking now, too!" the Village Papish's voice was loud enough to reach our yard so Moshe would hear it.     I went into the pen.     "Get out of there fast!" cried the Village Papish. "It's very dangerous when they're together."     But I had already lifted the halter and was intoning the magic words.     "C'mon-c'mon-c'mon-c'mon ..." And the stallion approached and even let me put the straps on his muzzle.     "He's gonna go nuts right away, Zayde," called Papish. "Leave him right now!"     Just as we were leaving the yard, the mare whinnied. The stallion stopped and pushed me to the ground. His eyes bulged and turned red. A loud snort erupted from the depths of his chest.     "Drop the rope, Zayde!" shouted the Village Papish. "Drop it and roll out of the way fast!"     But I didn't let go.     The stallion rose up on his hind legs, the rope grew taut, and I was lifted up and dropped supine on the ground. His front hooves kicked the air and tamped the dirt next to me. A heap of dust rose and beyond it I saw the Angel of Death, his notebook in his hand, his eyes fixed on me.     "What's your name?" he asked me.     "Zayde," I answered, not letting go of the rope.     The Angel of Death recoiled as if stunned by an invisible slap. He moistened his fingertip and leafed through the notebook.     "Zayde?" he fumed. "How can you call a little boy Zayde?"     My body was shaken and beaten; the awful hooves whistled by me like the axes circus performers toss at their blindfolded girls. My hand grasping the rope was almost pulled out of my shoulders and my skin was flayed off on clods of dirt, but my heart was serene and confident.     "Zayde," I said once again to the Angel of Death. "My name is Zayde."     In the shining white light, I saw him lick his pencil, examine his notebook once more, and understand that there was some mistake here.     His jaws gnashed in rage, and with a gasp of wrath and menace, he went somewhere else.     The loud whinnying and the yells of the Village Papish rushed Moshe Rabinovitch to me. He ran heavily across the ten meters between the two yards, and what I saw then I shall never forget.     With his left hand, Rabinovitch grabbed the stallion's halter and pulled him down until their heads were level, and with his right fist he struck the white star in the center of the horse's forehead one blow, and no more.     The stallion jerked back, stunned and surprised, and the majesty of his virility fell as if it were lopped off. He dropped his head, his eyes sank back, and with a moderate, ashamed pace he returned to our yard and went inside his fence.     The whole thing lasted no more than thirty seconds. But when I stood up, safe and sound, my other two fathers were already there: Jacob Sheinfeld had run up from his house and the dealer Globerman came in his green pickup truck, collided, as he always did, with the big eucalyptus tree, and jumped out, yelling and waving the nail-studded bastinado.     And mother came tranquilly, stripped off my shirt, shook the dust off it, washed and disinfected the scratches on my back, and laughed. "A little boy named Zayde, nothing will happen to him."     So it's no wonder that as time went on, I became convinced that my mother was right and I came to believe in the power of the name she gave me, and so I take the precautionary measures it entails. Once I lived with a woman, but she ran away from me, amazed and despairing, after a few months of abstinence.     "A son will bring a grandson, and the grandson will bring the Angel of Death," I told her.     At first she laughed, then she got angry, and in the end she left. I heard she married somebody else and that she's barren, but by that time I knew all the jokes and mockery of fate, and my heart was inured to it. * * *     That's how my name saved me both from death and from love. But this has nothing to do with the story of my mother's life and her death, and stories, unlike reality, have to be preserved from all excess and addition.     A slight melancholy may be woven into my way of talking, but it isn't evident in my life. Like every person, I create moments of grief for myself, but the pleasures of life aren't alien to me, my time is my own, and as I said before, three fathers showered their benefits on me.     I've got a knipele of money and a green pickup truck bequeathed to me by Globerman the cattle dealer.     I've got a big beautiful house on Oak Street in Tivon, the house bequeathed to me by the canary breeder, Jacob Sheinfeld.     And I've got a farm in the village, Moshe Rabinovitch's farm. Moshe Rabinovitch still lives there, but he's already registered it in my name. He lives in his old dwelling, facing the street, and I live in the pretty little house in the yard, the house that was once a cowshed, where bougainvillea twine around its cheeks like colorful sideburns, where swallows flutter yearnings at its windows, and a soft smell of milk still rises from the cracks in its walls.     In bygone days, doves hummed in it and cows gave milk. Dew collected on the covers of the jugs, dust in dances of gold. Once a woman lived in it, laughed and dreamed, worked and wept, and in it she brought me into her world.     That, in fact, is the whole story. Or, as practical people say in their deep, loathsome voice: that's the bottom line. And everything that will sneak in above it from now on are details with no purpose but to satisfy the pair of those small, hungry beasts--curiosity and nosiness-- who nest in all our souls. 4 In 1952, about a year and a half after her death, Jacob Sheinfeld invited me to the first meal.     He came to the cowshed, his shoulders drooping, the scar on his forehead gleaming, and the moss of solitude darkening the wrinkles of his face.     "Happy birthday to you, Zayde." He put his hand on my shoulder. "You'll please come to me tomorrow for dinner," he said, and turned and left.     I was then exactly twelve years old, and Moshe Rabinovitch made me a birthday party.     "If you were a girl, Zayde, we'd make you a bat-mitzva today." He smiled, and I was surprised because Rabinovitch didn't tend to talk in "if" and "what if."     Oded, Rabinovitch's older son, who was already the village truck driver, brought me a silver-plated Bulldog model of a Mack diesel. Naomi, Rabinovitch's daughter, came specially from Jerusalem and brought me a book titled The Old Silver Spot , with pictures of crows and the notes of their calls. She kept kissing and crying and hugging and stroking until I was filled with embarrassment, desire, and dread all together.     Then the green pickup truck appeared, collided, as always, with the mighty stump of the eucalyptus where big scars, mementos of all the previous collisions, could be seen in its flesh, and another father burst out: Globerman the cattle dealer.     "A good father doesn't never forget a birthday," declared the dealer, who never failed to fulfill any parental obligation.     He brought some premium cuts of beef ribs and bestowed a sum of cash on me.     Globerman brought me money for every event. For birthdays, holidays, the end of every school year, in honor of the first rain of the season, on the shortest day of the year in winter and on the longest day of the year in summer. Even on the anniversary of Mother's death, he would thrust a few shillings into my hand, which horrified and disgusted everybody, but it didn't surprise anybody because Globerman was known throughout the Valley as a greedy, coarse man. And in the village people said that five minutes after the English expelled the German Templars from nearby Waldheim, Globerman showed up there with his pickup truck, broke into their abandoned houses, and looted the crystal and porcelain dishes they had left behind.     "And by the time we got there with the wagons"--the narrators were enraged--" there wasn't anything left."     Once I heard the Village Papish scolding Globerman for the same thing. The word "robber" I understood, " Hashbez " I guessed, and " Akhen " I didn't get.     "You stole! You plundered!" he rebuked him.     "Me steal? I didn't steal." Globerman chuckled. "I obtained."     "You `obtained'? What does that mean, you `obtained'?"     "Some of it I obtained by pulling and some of it I obtained by dragging. But steal? Not me. I didn't steal nothing," roared the dealer, with a laugh I can still recall clearly to this day, many years after his death.     "I'll tell you what's the difference between just a gift and a gift of cash," he said now in a loud voice so everyone would hear. "To think up what gift to buy somebody iz a lokh in kop , a hole in the head. But to give somebody cash iz a lokh in hartz , a hole in the heart. Period."     And he closed my fingers around the money and declared: "That's how my father taught me and that's how I'm teaching you. It'll be just like you yourself was born on the Klots , the butcher block."     Then he pulled out the flat bottle he always carried in his coat pocket and I recognized the smell of the grappa Mother loved to drink. He poured a lot of liquor down his throat and a little bit of liquor on the fire, roasted the ribs he brought, and sang aloud: Zaydele went walking down the street Went with a penny to buy himself a treat Oh, Zaydele, it's only a deceit The cent went off and there's no treat Daddy, Daddy, he is bold Mommy, Mommy, she will scold They'll beat poor Zaydele till he's out cold.     And Moshe Rabinovitch, the strongest and oldest of my three fathers, caught me and tossed me up in the air over and over again, threw and caught my body with his thick, short hands. And when Naomi yelled, "And one to grow on," and I soared for the thirteenth time, I saw a swarming cloud of wings threatening to cover the village.     "Look," I shouted. "Starlings in summer!"     And at first glance, the raging nimbus did indeed look like a flock of starlings that had lost its sense of time. But it soon turned out that, thanks to the swings of Moshe Rabinovitch's strong hands, I saw the locusts rising on the Valley that year, 1952.     Moshe's face became melancholy. Naomi panicked. And Globerman said for the n th time: " A mentsh trakht un got lakht --man makes plans and God laughs."     Within five minutes the dull drumming of the Arab peasants was heard beyond the hills, coming out of their houses to the fields, armed with screaming women, long sticks, and noisy, empty gasoline cans to rout the enemy.     Globerman sipped more and more grappa from his bottle and served Moshe more and more meat, and in the evening, when all the children went to the fields with torches and bags, spades and brooms to kill the locusts, my third father, Jacob Sheinfeld, came, laid his hand on my shoulder, and invited me to dinner.     "All the gifts ain't nothing. Money gets used up. Clothes you rip up. Toys get broke up. But a good meal, that stays in your memory. From there it don't get lost like other gifts. The body it leaves real fast, but the memory real slow."     That's what Jacob said, and his voice, too, like the voice of the dealer, was loud enough to reach everyone's ears. 5 "A strange bird," that's what they called Jacob Sheinfeld in the village.     He lived all by himself, he had a little house, a garden which was once well-tended, and a few empty canary cages, relics of an enormous flock that was now dispersed.     His field, which had once boasted a citrus grove and a vineyard, vegetables and fodder, was now leased to the village for common cultivation. His incubator he had already closed. His wife who had left he had already forgotten.     Jacob's wife was named Rebecca. I knew she had left him because of my mother. Never did I see her, but everybody said she was the most beautiful of all the women in the village.     "What do you mean, all the women in the village?" the Village Papish amended. "All the women in the Valley! All the women in the country! One of the most beautiful women in all the world and in all times!"     The Village Papish was one of those admirers who are devoted to female beauty, and in his house he had splendid art albums he used to leaf through with washed, caressing hands, and sigh: " Sbeyner fun di ziebn shtern --more beautiful than the seven stars."     Like a distant, glowing nebula, Rebecca was sealed in his memory and in the common memory of the village. To this day--even after she had gone off and remarried and come back in old age, and managed to bring Jacob back to her before her death--they still talk about her here. And whenever a handsome woman comes to visit or a new baby is born who is very beautiful to behold, memory immediately compares her with that reflection of the beautiful woman who once lived here, whose husband was unfaithful, and who went off, and left us all behind, "wallowing in ugliness and desolation and the black soil."     Twelve years old I was then, and in the way whose beginning is hazy and whose end is painfully sharp, I understood that I was responsible for Jacob's catastrophe and for his solitude. I knew that, if not for me and the deed I did, my mother would have granted his suit, given in to his pleas, and would have married him.     As in a box, I hid from my three fathers the secrets concerning them and her. I didn't reveal to them why she behaved as she did or why she chose the one she did. I didn't tell them that, sitting in my observation-box, camouflaged with branches and grass, I saw human beings, too, and not only crows.     Nor did I tell them about the mockery and scorn, my lot in school.     "What's your name?" laughed the little children.     "What's your father's name?" teased the big children, guessing aloud which of the three was my real father. (Continues ...) Copyright © 1994 Meir Shalev.