This morning, self read in her Barbara Mann book about something called “The Historical Museum of Tel Aviv – Jaffa.” After looking it up on the web, self found that it was on the exact same street as the Rubin Museum. And since self has already aced taking the No. 4 bus — which has a stop just one block from this apartment — self decided to chance going there (putting off for the time being all thoughts of checking out hotel in Old Jaffa– self has now decided that the only attitude she should adopt in her present circumstances is: Que sera, sera).
So, self set off bright and early, and she did get to Bialik Street, and she again traversed the narrow edge of the sidewalk that had not been dug up by all the construction, and she arrived at said building, and it was very old and dilapidated, and there was a sign on a wall next to it, but as the sign was in Hebrew self knew not what the sign said. Instead, she marched smartly up the steps and put a hand on the door handle, and found that the door was locked. Since the door was made of glass, self peered inside and saw a circular hallway with old photographs and musty-looking memorabilia. In fact, hallway reminded self very much of her grandfather’s house on Burgos Street in Bacolod City, a house self had known all her life as “The Big House.” Anyhoo, self also noticed that there was a buzzer, and this she contrived to ring — twice. But no butler or receptionist appeared. So self had to make her way back out to the dusty street. And she had to walk forlornly to the bus stop (stopping first at a shoe store and then at a store selling kitchen gadgetry, where she was very much tempted to buy silicon potholders in the shape of rhinoceri — self thinks that is the correct way to pluralize “rhinocerus,” though it sounds strange — but these were going for 40 shekels each, which self computed as something like US$ 11.50 each. Never mind). And then she went home for a quick lunch before heading to the hospital to see Ying.
And, as it turned out, Mila the caregiver was also at home having a quick lunch, and self smelled her frying something delicious. But since self had been admonished by Dear Bro to remember at all times that Mila is not there to serve anyone except Ying (as if self, after all these years of living in the States, would ever dream of asking someone to serve her), self heated up a little slice of quiche in the toaster oven.
And then self set off for the hospital. Since self knows that she is in poor physical shape and cannot take the humongous walks that she tried her first two days here, and since she doesn’t want to use up her cash on cab rides, she decides to take the bus. Eureka! Her brother tells her there are these little mini-vans wandering around the city, and each follow a different coded route: orange, yellow, etc. And he says they are much cheaper than cabs. And why he only felt moved to divulge this information today is completely beyond self. But she did find one of those things and she arrived at the hospital quickly and all she had to do was pay 5 shekels.
And self expected to find a very haggard-looking Ying, because everytime Dear Bro returns from the hospital he looks on the edge of collapse, and the little boy is teary-eyed, and Mila sounds depressed. But to self’s extreme bewilderment, Ying is sitting up in her bed, very bright-eyed, and greets self with a warm smile when self walks into the room.
“Aren’t you sick?” self blurts out.
“Well, it comes and goes,” Ying says.
And then we partake in the two-hour gabfest to end all gabfests.
Ying confides in self that she is jealous of the closeness between Dear Bro and self’s nephew. Self assures Ying that from, all self has observed, nephew is indeed very very attached to Ying.
“No,” Ying says. “I meant: I am jealous of the way my husband is so affectionate with our son. He never hugs or kisses me anymore.”
(Self resolves to smack Dear Bro at the first opportunity. Here is a woman with no hair and fragile physique, and Dear Bro is still playing this ridiculous game of transference or what-have-you)
Self says smartly, “Oh, it’s a thing with Filipino men. They can never show you how much they love you. Physically, that is. But, just think: every time YH hugs F, he is showing you that he really wants to hug you.” Which self knows sounds absolutely ridiculous, dear blog readers, but is absolutely true. Self knows from long experience. Because hubby is exactly the same way.
So Ying gives self a big smile. And then she asks self if self would like to see pictures of Ying’s baby girl, Anita. And self is all agog, and Ying opens her laptop, and there self sees the cutest, most precious little girl that one could ever imagine: a girl with fair, fair skin and even fairer hair, and the cutest pointed chin. Self says, “She looks just like you!”
And Ying says, “You think so? But she has YH’s nose and cheeks and lips!”
And self looks again, closely, and realizes that this is so.
And then Ying shows self pictures of her new dog, Tiger, a mini-Dachshund. And self sees as well pictures of Ying’s other dog, her beagle Burmie. And self and Ying exchange beagle stories. And agree vehemently that beagles are not too bright. But she and self both waxed ecstatic over a beagle’s winning the latest Westminster Dog Show.
And then Ying removes her stylish scarf (turns out Dearest Mum has presented Ying with a whole array of these stylish scarves), and self sees that there is a very soft fuzz covering Ying’s entire head. Actually, self tells Ying, “You look very good with no hair. It’s like an early Sinead O’Connor look. Or a Natalie Portman look from ‘V is for Vendetta.’ “
Ying says she misses having long hair. At this point, Mila comes in. And since Mila has very fashionable hair — short, with spiky ends — self tells Ying that she should get a haircut like Mila’s. When her hair grows in, that is.
Two nurses drop by to say hello, and they are both young and friendly and tell Ying she looks beautiful (which she does, even with no hair).
And, before self knows it, two hours have passed by. And self tells Ying she will stop by again, perhaps as soon as tonight. But there’s a concert she wants to catch. At the Felicja Blumental Music Center on 26 Bialik Street (which is quickly becoming self’s hangout of choice in Tel Aviv).
Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.