Out of the blue, they told me that Grandpa was coming the next day, and I never ever knew I had a grandfather.
How could they have kept such a secret from me? I figured he must have vanished somehow - though I didn't say so. Apparently a person could disappear just as easily as your favorite toy and then show up when you least expected it, after you'd lost all hope.
He vanished years ago and my father went to America to bring him back. After six months, Daddy returned with a brand-new grandpa and a green used car named Plymouth. Nobody else on our street owned a car. Nobody had a gas stove, either. In our kitchen, of course, we had only a kerosene stove that smelled of smoke, so after each meal, we had to put it out on the porch to air.
Not that I was the only girl around with a grandpa. Grandpas were common. But I alone possessed a father with a car. The kids in my neighborhood saw me differently now. They actually called me by my real name, instead of stretching it to "Gershona-Shona - which in Hebrew meant "Gershona the different. And for one week they stopped calling me "Gershona Primadonna".

Translation from Hebrew by Seymour Simckes

Seymour Simckes, a translator of major Hebrew language fiction writers, is also a novelist and playwright. Dr. Simckes has taught at several universities in the United States. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts

Nava Semel on the bank of the Yarkon River, Tel Aviv 1960.


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