Testing the the brittle surface with my foot, I hesitate. Seconds. Move tentatively. A barren landscape of despair. Grey and dry as a piece of tanned parchment ready for the quill, the plain rolls on over the horizon, further than the eye can see. I have travelled far and look for respite and moisture that is lacking in this arid place. Surely there is an oasis somewhere close by.
I creep slowly over the hillocks that rise and fall forever undulating in to the distance. Mirages dance across the line of vision and I hope but do not hope. A slow rumbling begins and I realise it could be a desert storm brewing. It is important to hurry now. I reflect on the state of the world and its shape. Obviously flat and round. There is no other explanation.
The table has been set. The guests arrive, one by one. I take their coats. I have four sons. Two are away with their families overseas. One in Thailand with his Israeli wife. They at least will be at a pesach seder. Although I do worry about terrorists and terror. They understand the importance of memory. But my other son, he is married to a non Jewish girl. Catholic. Lapsed. Very. Perhaps even a prolapse with little hope of repair, even with drastic surgery. They have gone to Greece for a holiday with my two grandchildren. Their non Jewish children who do not even know there is such a thing as a seder or even Pesach. My son thinks I am hung up.
'It is just family tradition Mum. We have out grown it. Roslyn and I don't want the kids to be hung up over this Jew thing. They are free.' Ironically they are not. They are bound by their parents' limits. They are followers of fashion and high tech. They do not believe in God. God is Savta's fairystories. My eldest boy will read the Haggada. Ari always got top marks in Hebrew Heder on Sundays. He was a natural. The haggada he can read as if he were calling the Melbourne Cup Race and at the same speed as the horses run. He can reach shulchan Aruch in less than half an hour if he is allowed and there are no interruptions.
Me, I prefer to savour the haggada and peer into the crevasses of history and spirituality. But I am eighty seven now and what do they care that I want. Kadesh, throw down the first cup with a raced blessing and yes we are up and running to six furlong post as we wash our hands and back to the table to eat piece of potato dipped in salt water, tears, break the middle matza and off we go to Magid to tell the story of the going out of Eygpt, then we invite the impoverished to eat, ignoring our own poverty we bless and ask four questions and remind ourselves of our slavery, long ago for seconds, then quickly through to the four sons who we barely glance at as we travel ever faster down the straight as tantalising smells waft in from the kitchen and we would hate the kids to kvetch too much so we go faster than before doing a brief impossible circuit of history and our past as idol worshippers, down to Eygpt we go, top speed, rocket lauched and Jacob's peyot are plastered back by the updraft, quickly we reproduced and became beautiful and in great numbers too, long hair and the bit about the naked and bare, that brought a drawing in of breath and then we lived through our blood, we cried because we were afflicted, but G-D noticed and said these bloody Egyptians better watch out because "I will smite them down and bring out the Hebrews with a mighty awesome and outstretched arm and a hand too', and the plagues went down really quickly, drop, dam, drop,tzafadaya, drop, kinim, drop, mumble, drop, drop, mumble, drop, drop, drop, mumble, drop dead first born, and we were up and running at top speed again, Rabbi Yose, Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Akiva were like signposts whizzed past, till we got to deyanu and that was worth a bit of time and sung with gusto as the reader caught his breath a little and then up and running again, down the home stretch, Pesach, Matza, Maror and halleluyah the food part is nearly there, Betzet Israel and another cup of wine, why are you leaning to the left, is your right side sore, no, just minhag ok, now we wash and bless and eat matza and again with maror and now with a sandwich because Hillel did it too eating matza and bitter herbs together, ok let's eat an egg and bring on the soup. I am tired and the young are too quick now. I wish the seder had a slower pace, maybe a trot or a canter but not such a gallop. I am too old for the races. I see something on the matza plate.
Carefully I test the stablity of the ground before more and it heaves suddenly and opens up before me. The world has come to an end. I am hurtling through space at phenomenal speed. I see a clear tank of red liquid before me. My goodness NO. I am going to drown in a red sea. It ripples before me and I splash in. I am drowning.'Help. HELP.' I scream but some mongrel is rattling on from a book placed before him and others with the same are too intent on it to pay me any mind. Frantically I struggle to swim across to the sides of the tank which are slippery. This is a death trap. I call on G-D. He answers.
To be continued.