Evanescent Bloom (2012)

"Walking out on to the cement path, she could sense the excitement building up inside her. She was on her way to begin field work with a group of theater students with whom she planned to explore emotional experience and expression. The central argument in the anthropology of emotions, which was her field of research, is that emotions are a cultural construct like all other cultural phenomena. Her plan was to explore emotional diversity along national, gender, and religious affiliation, trying to describe the subtle differences and similarities among the students. She had studied theater before, and knew that emotions are a central subject matter in actor training. The training studio was a laboratory where emotions and their expression were explored, and so she decided to join a group of theater students on their first year.


As she reached the theater studio, she entered hesitantly. It was dark and spacious, full of promise. A beam of light flowed from a single spotlight on the ceiling, creating a bright, empty circle at the center of the room. On one side there were four levels of wooden platforms and a few students sitting on the bottom one. Seating herself at the far end, she observed with timid curiosity the people who where chatting among themselves. They were discussing the many hours of study they had that day, mostly academic courses. Suddenly, alarming Devine, they turned towards her and smiled.


“Hi. Will you be studying with us?” they asked amiably. “Yes, I'm going to be doing field work with you.” “Wow!” they responded excitedly, “that sounds cool.” “What are you studying?” asked one of the girls, pale and tall. “Anthropology. And my name is Devine," she smiled. “I'm Miriam,” said the tall one. "And I'm Dana,” answered the second girl, short and plump. “And my name is David but people call me ‘the Dud,’” answered the boy, who was wearing a velvet hat over his long wavy hair.


Leon, the teacher, entered the room as a great predator moves in midday through the bush. Large and heavy, he was a man in his late fifties, with a big mane of white hair and the features of a turbulent soul. "Stop immediately everything you are doing and sit down so we can begin,” he commanded, his deep voice echoing from the walls, followed by the immediate silence of the students. They gathered around him in a full circle of eight men and twenty women, seven Arabs and twenty-one Jews.


“I know this is a long day for you, but I demand that you sit quietly in your chairs when I enter the room. I am not going to waste time forcing you to work. It's not the job I'm here for," he said, sitting down heavily in front of them. "We are here to become actors. Actors are people who work frantically day and night. They are a suicidal kind of people who jump off walls without knowing what kind of landing they will have. If you can't do that and you wait to understand first, you will get nowhere."

The Blackbird's Call Before Dark (2014)

"I was born on the third winter after the Egyptian troops came to Hazor. My brother had told me it rained heavily that winter and the crops were abundant. Large cargos of barley, wheat and olive oil were sent to the Pharaoh of Egypt and my father was awarded with many treasures for his contribution. As food was plenty, I was well fed by my wet nurse Annani who later continued to take care of me and my sister until we were grown. We lived an abundant life in the palace of Hazor; servants and slaves catered to all our needs. I believe I was a spoilt child; nothing was denied from me. If I did not receive what I wished, I would pout my lips and cry loudly until my wish was met.

But I was a lonely child. My mother, Uprishtim, was priestess to the moon god Inlil, a seer, and her blood was of the Raphaits, the legendary giants who roamed this earth in ancient times. She spent all her days at the temple, many times inhaling the smoke of the gods so she could rise to another realm, from which she brought news. She had foreseen the arrival of the Egyptians and that it was foolish to try to battle them.


I rarely saw her. Occasionally Annani would take me and my sister Nikal, who was born six springs before me, to meet her. My mother's chambers were a shrine in its own sake, all covered with wall paintings of the gods’ adventures, dark crimson-dyed textiles and exuberant furnishings imported from the far shores of the world.


Once we were before her, my sister would walk to my mother rigidly and, following the prescribed code of conduct, she would kiss her reached-out hand, bowing her head, then walk back and sit on a cushion placed before my mother's throne. I remember as a very young child that I would not conform to this custom, and would jump into her lap, breathing in for a long moment her warm scent before Annani pulled me down. I think I was five when I understood my place and I ceased to do that. I learned to enter quietly so as not to disrupt her clairvoyant’s concentration and trouble her with trivialities such as a child's need.


On those occasions, Mother would always speak to us calmly, with a warm lucid voice, telling us stories of our gods. I would be mystified by them. I especially loved the story about Baal and his Goddess sister, Anath, whom I found to be so bold and brave. I dreamed of being like her when I grew up. Going out to fight with the men. Helping out my brother in battle."


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