An incredible tale

An incredible tale

A Story by Haim Kadman
"

It's a fantasy with a few grains of truth in it.

"

 

An incredible tale

In 1914 on the eve of the First World War, a young Hussar officer rode into a village. He didn't seem to have lost his way on the contrary; he was riding straight to a certain location �" the Jewish quarter.

He reached a small house surrounded by a low fence, dismantled and tied his horse, opened the gate and went straight to the house front door.

His approach was watched, as soon as the sound of his horse hooves was heard. The house occupants adhered to the windows watching him with alarm and dismay. He was a rare sight, with his fancy uniform and the feather that adorned his cap. It didn't excite the house occupants at all, it had just one meaning for them �" trouble and threats.

As soon as the stranger walked towards their front door, the windows were abandoned. All the young ones were huddled in one of the bedrooms, while their elderly mother waited at the other side of the front door anxious, hoping that the unexpected guest had reached their house by some mistake, and would leave them soon in peace.

She heard him knocking and opened up, and watched the handsome face, and the brown eyes of that young and tall officer. They stood watching each other quietly for a few seconds without uttering a single word.

He must have surely reached us by mistake she thought.

'May I come in?' He said at last in Russian.

'Oh yes, do come in.' She replied and moved aside to let him in.

He crossed the threshold and waited till she will close the door.

When she turned round she saw him watching her with a heaving chest and tears in his brown eyes.

'Matushka', he whispered. 'It's me…'

Utterly shocked she opened her arms unable to speak, and clutched his lithe body as he fell into her spread arms, uttering a sob. She clutched his lithe body burying her head in his chest, leaning on him, supporting herself on his strong young body �" with  a heaving bosom and shut eyes, thanking God. Her lost son, her eldest has returned.

A few moments passed thus in silence, while they sensed each others heart beats and rapid breathing.

'Where is father?' He asked her in a whisper, holding her still in his strong arms.

She coughed slightly and raised her face to look in his eyes, her son that was just a boy the last time she saw him. 'He left us, God has taken him…'

'Oh, when was it?' He asked perturbed.

'Almost six years ago.' She replied and hastened to add amazed. 'Where have you been all those years my dearest son, are you really…?'

'Yes mother, but I'll have to pray on my father's grave, who did pray on his open grave and where is father buried?'

'Hersh did and father is buried in the Jewish cemetery not far from our home.'

'Is Hersh here…? You aren't all alone are you? I saw some faces watching me, where are they?' 

'Oh they're all here hiding, let's go in, I'll call them.' She said relieved, looking him up, smiling with a pale face and breathing hard still. She was terribly weak all of a sudden, and he had to support her, as they crossed the corridor towards the living room.

She did not have to call them to come out, they were expecting them �" his eleven brothers and sisters. The grown ups met them half way, watching the extraordinary sight with wide open eyes, amazed with disbelief. They turned to both sides close to the wall, to let their mother and the young Hussar pass, and followed them to the living room.

After she was helped into a chair near the big dinning table, the mother wiped her tears, sighed filling her lungs with air and exhaled it slowly.

'This is your eldest brother…' She managed to say before she had to strangle a sob.

The girls and the smallest one rushed to their mother crying silently, they were utterly confused the lot of them �" they have never seen their mother before in such an emotional state, and the uniformed stranger was still an unsolved riddle.

But the stranger broke the silence: 'Whose son is the little one?' He asked moving among them, patting their heads, smiling to them.

'He's your brother too, he's mine…'

'Really mother, how old is he?'

'Five years, he was born four months after father's death. But you must be hungry…'

'Oh no mother I'm not hungry, I'm fine, please don't bother.' He said and sat beside her.

'But you must eat my son.' She kept on stubbornly. 'What have you been eating out there, where have you been all those years, my God…?'

'I missed your delicious dishes.' He admitted laughing slightly, trying to avoid any talk about his past adventures. But when the mother brought him some hot soup after a short while and sat watching him eat, the atmosphere eased down, they all got used to his presence, in spite of his alien appearance, his uniform and robe. The moment he took off his cap, they were all eager to try it on, chuckling happily.

The little one took his fancy as soon as he finished to eat he picked him up, and kept him on his lap.

'You didn't answer my question my son,' the mother said. 'Won't you tell us what has happened?'

He coughed slightly embarrassedly, most of his brothers looked him up silently, and turned to hush the little ones that were still chattering.

'You sent me on some errand to one of our neighbors that evening, I can't remember the name or what I was supposed to fetch.' He opened up at last. 'When I was on way back night fell already, it was dark and the street was deserted. Then three riders appeared suddenly galloping, and as they got closer one of them bent down and picked my up and sat me before him on his horse.'

'You were kidnapped you didn't run away, you were just twelve years old…' The mother cried out excitedly. 'Were they Gypsies?'

'No, they were soldiers mother. We rode several hours and reached their provisional camp, there I was put in a covered and guarded wagon with some more kids of about my age. The next morning we started our journey eastward.' He made a short pause, passed his right hand through his hair and down his cheek. He was not eager to recall his own trials, the hardships and sorrow he had to suffer. But he had no other choice, he had to tell it. 'It was a long journey and some more kids were abducted from the villages on our way. We reached Petrograd at last one afternoon, the city's outskirts. I'd no idea where we were at that time, and I've never been in such a big city before in my life.' He made a second pause and coughed slightly, bowing his head; turning to his little brother on his lap, smiling to him, avoiding his mother's eyes.

'What are you hiding from me my son?'

It took him a few long seconds to answer. 'On that day when we arrived they've found out that I'm a Jew, and they baptized me as a Christian…'

'Oh God in heaven, oh my God…' She muttered covering her face with her hands.

An oppressive silence ensued, but the mother recovered right away. 'You'll have to change and we'll get rid of those rags of yours! I'll take you to our Rabbi you're staying with us!'

'No I can't mother, I gave an oath of allegiance to the Czar, I serve in his guards. If I'll stay I'll become a deserter, they'll find me and I'll be put to death…

She left her chair and went over to him and hugged him, there was nothing she could do and she knew it.

He stayed on up to supper, learned to know all those who were born after his abduction, exchanged a few words with the bigger ones,  played with them, particularly with the youngest one, taught him to ride a horse on his knee.

When the time came to depart, he promised to come back and asked them to stay where they are, and let him leave without agitation.

The five year old who was taught to ride a horse on his elder brother knee, was my own late father �" 'blessed be his memory'. He didn't tell it to me directly, he told it to a close friend in my presence. I was seven or eight years old, and he never told me much �" he must have been in a very good mood I guess at that time.

My uncle who was twenty years older than my own father, never returned. If he didn't fell during the First World War, he must have died during the Russian revolution as a white officer fighting Trotsky's red army

 

            © Haim Kadman 2008 �" All rights reserved.

© 2012 Haim Kadman


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What a fascinating story. It has a beautiful ring of truth.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on April 19, 2012
Last Updated on April 19, 2012
Tags: village, horseman, officer, family, tale

Author

Haim Kadman
Haim Kadman

Petach-Tikva, Israel



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Profile: A few words about myself: being a native of a small country whose waist is seventeen kilometers wide in a certain area; and in seven to eight hours drive one can cross its length, I was amaze.. more..

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