Interlitq publishes the short story “Ramadan” by Israeli author Ruth Fogelman, a contributor to Issue 13 of Interlitq and www.interlitq.wordpress.com
Filed under: Authors, Fiction, Interlitq, Issue 13, The International Literary Quarterly, Writing, www.interlitq.wordpress.com |
I open the bottle of baby Acamol: it’s empty! I need to get some more, fast. I put the baby in the Snugli and run out the door to my local pharmacy at Jaffa Gate – a seven-minute walk from my home in the Jewish Quarter. I walk fast down St. Marks Street where a couple of Arab children play marbles on the rough stone pavement. I skip down the steps, past the skirts, Bedouin dresses and robes that line the black stone wall, past the colorful Armenian pottery and Bukharan head-wear displayed on the opposite ledge, to the suq.
Today is the first Friday of Ramadan. It’s only 10.30 in the morning, more than an hour before prayer time on the Temple Mount, but as I turn left towards Jaffa Gate, I find myself going against the flow of a steady stream of Muslim worshippers. Men with large, white taqiyeh and jalabias down to their ankles, some with dark cloaks over their jalabias, and a neatly-folded dark-hued carpet over their shoulder brush past me. They will spread out the prayer-carpet on the ground of the Temple Mount before they bow down in prayer. Some bareheaded men wear dark jackets, dull-white shirts and loose-fitting trousers. Women, with large, white scarves covering their head and neck and dull-colored, long-sleeved, ankle-length cloaks, walk alongside the men. Some women from rural areas, with colorful, Bedouin embroidered robes and thin, white veils over their kerchiefed heads, flowing down their backs, also make their way in the stream of worshippers.
I weave my way between the crowds that are becoming thicker as I get nearer the broad plaza of Jaffa Gate. I am much more concerned about my baby in the Snugli than about any lurking danger. He hates crowds, and he lets me know it! Funny, I’ve never seen an Arab woman with a Snugli. They all carry their infants in blankets in their arms. Maybe these Western contraptions are too untraditional for them. My baby is the only baby in all these crowds. I guess they don’t take them up to the Mount to pray.
After what seems like an eternity, I finally reach Omar Ibn El-Khattab Square, colloquially known as the Jaffa Gate plaza and turn right on Latin Patriarchate Road to Ruth’s pharmacy. A sign on the corner of Latin Patriarchate Road in Arabic, English and Hebrew announces the pharmacy a few doors in. I walk up to the entranceway whose blue shutters are pulled back, revealing in large white letters, the word PHARMACY in English.
“Ah, good morning,” Ruth greets me in English, a lilt in her voice and a smile in her eyes. “How are you today?”
“Nishkar’Allah,” (thank God) I answer in Arabic.
Ruth is a lovely lady, a trilingual Christian Arab from a Bible-reading family, who lives in French Hill, in the New City. Like Abu Amir, the mini-market owner around the corner from us, Ruth is open on Friday afternoon and Saturday night, and, like Abu Amir, will give regulars and Jewish Quarter residents anything they need on Shabbat, with the understanding that they will pay after Shabbat. She treats the black-hooded priests, Moslems, Jews and tourists who frequent her pharmacy with the same equanimity and grace, switching back and forth between Arabic, English and Hebrew, wishing everyone a speedy recovery and a good day.
This Friday, I take the long route home, alongside the traffic on Armenian Patriarchate Road and turn in to the Jewish Quarter from St. James Street. Today, the longer route is by far the fastest.
taqiyeh: a cap worn by religious Moslem men
About Ruth Fogelman: Ruth Fogelman is an award-winning poet, author of two books of poetry. She has lived with her family for many years in Jerusalem’s Old City. Her poems, articles, short stories and photography have appeared in anthologies and various publications in Israel, and the USA, including Arc, Poetica, The Deronda Review and New Vilna Review, as well as The International Literary Quarterly. Ruth Fogelman leads the Pri Hadash Women’s Writing Workshop in Jerusalem and holds a Masters Degree from the Creative Writing Program of Bar Ilan University.