Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Nisan 5766 - April 26, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

by Gita Gordon

Serializing a new novel.

Chapter 19: The Amazon, October 2001 — Part I

I>In this month Daniel married Esther. The fate of his parents hung as a cloud over his wedding. What has happened to them?


Each evening Fay marked off a day in her diary. Each time she did this she prayed that a miracle would happen and they would be found.

Their daily life had assumed a set routine. Each morning, just as the sun rose, while Eli and Pedro cut a section of fencing free of the encroaching jungle, Fay prepared breakfast, from whatever had been collected and was left over from the previous day.

During the first fortnight of their arrival in the jungle, Pedro had said. "Soon the trail to the Indian village will be overgrown. We will make our own garden plot."

The idea that they would be in this place long enough to need a vegetable garden was a depressing thought, but they had done as Pedro had ordered and helped him to first prepare the soil and then plant the seeds they had obtained from the produce in the Indian village.

So, every day after breakfast, while it was still relatively cool, they worked together in the vegetable garden, a small plot that now contained potatoes, yams and tomatoes, as well as tall impressive sugar cane.

Pedro then walked to the stream to see if fish had been caught in the nets that they had left there. Usually there was a catch for Fay to grill for their midday meal. Sometimes there was no fish and then they ate whatever fruit Pedro had gathered from the jungle surrounding.

Eli and Fay had been amazed at the variety that grew within a small circumference of their encampment. Avocados, figs, pineapples, mangoes, and nuts of every description appeared at their table.

As the sun rose to the midday point, the heat and humidity grew oppressive so they retired to their separate quarters for a siesta. During this time Fay and Eli often discussed plans for returning to civilization. However they could come up with nothing that was practical. Other days Fay taught Eli Portuguese, so that soon he could converse with Pedro. In this way the long hot afternoon hours were endured.

As darkness descended and the evening brought respite from the searing heat, they lit fires to protect them from jungle animals and prepared their evening meal. In this way day followed day. Week followed week. Month followed month.

As each festival approached Fay made a plan to observe it in some small way. To celebrate Shavuos she had mixed coconut milk with a root that when powdered fine acted as a thickening agent, to produce a white gelatinous mixture that resembled a milk dessert, even though it didn't taste like a dairy product.

When they had found a new fruit, known to Pedro but unknown to them, in the weeks before Rosh Hashonoh, she had kept it and served it before the special meal she had made that night.

During Chanukah, once Pedro was asleep they had quietly lit wicks immersed in olive oil, an increasing number each night. By now the linen skirt that Fay used for making the wicks was becoming threadbare and the small supply of olive oil that they had found in the storeroom was becoming depleted.

Eli had drawn from the days of his youth, when he had attended Talmud Torah each afternoon and learned with his father. Each festival he gave a dvar Torah for Fay, telling what he remembered from the days of his youth. Eli had no tallis, no tefillin, and no siddur, but he started to say each morning and evening the prayers he remembered. In this way the months passed by.

The time in the jungle changed their appearance. They were fitter and slimmer than when they had arrived. Their clothes took on a sad, faded creased appearance. Eli's beard grew as long as his father's had once been. Their heads were covered by hats they plaited from flat broad leaves.

They had been in the forest for seventeen long months, with little change in their daily routine when quite suddenly Pedro's mood seemed to change. He became quiet, saying little and disappearing into the forest for hours at a time. The daily routines of keeping the fence clear of greenery, of fetching fish from the stream — these fell to Eli. At first he would return with fruit he had collected in the jungle and gave this as an excuse for his absence.

Later he made no excuse, and brought back no fruit. In addition there seemed to be a change in Pedro's mood lately. Where once he had been ebullient that he had escaped with his life, now he seemed morose and edgy.

Eli and Fay discussed these changes. They feared that Pedro once again meant to harm them. However, there was little they could do except maintain vigilance.

Then quite suddenly one afternoon Pedro arrived from the jungle in a euphoric mood. He bought with him fruit from the jungle and fish that he had caught in a nearby stream. He spoke of his childhood in Altamira, of his dream to become a helicopter pilot and his excitement when this was achieved. He sang a sad lullaby and told them, "That was the song my mother sang to my brothers. I hoped one day to hear a wife sing them to my children."

Eli and Fay listened, swaying little. This sudden change of mood felt as frightening as the previous descent into gloom. Later Eli said, "I could smell alcohol on his breath."

Fay was silent for a while and then said, "Where could he get alcohol?"

Eli had been thinking of this all through the meal. "Maybe he has been making it in the forest. Maybe mixing the sugar from the cane and fruit from the forest, and then leaving it to ferment produce alcohol."

"But why such secrecy?" Fay asked.

No answers came and at last they fell into a troubled sleep.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.