Mummy says, when you can't sleep, you must count..., count sheep
going through a gate. Just close your eyes and count. So I close my
eyes and count. But I don't go to sleep. I don't see the gate, and
I don't want to count the sheep, and I don't get to sleep.
It's all because of the wind, and because of the darkness. The
shutters hide the darkness, but I know Darkness is there, just
outside. I don't like the dark, it keeps me up.
And the wind's there too. Howling, and bullying the trees, and
bending the branches so they sigh. The wind cries. Maybe because
they shut him out, and he doesn't want to be out at night, and he's
afraid of Darkness.
I'm not afraid. I'm big. Mummy says big girls are not afraid of the
dark. I'm not afraid. Why, what can he do to me? He's outside, and
I'm in. I'm not afraid.
Darkness is so big and so cold and so sad. Why is it so sad at
night? I want light, and the morning to come, and the sun. Then the
door will open and mummy will come in, and mummy will say: Good
morning, darling, wake up!
But I'll lie there, and shut my eyes, and just keep quiet, as if I
were asleep. And she'll go over and open the window and the
shutters, and the great light will jump into the room and tickle my
eyes, and I'll want to laugh, and to open my eyes, but I won't. And
mummy will bend over me and say: Get up, my lazy one. Look, it's so
nice and beautiful this morning!
But I'll close my eyes and keep quiet and wait. Then mummy will sit
on my bed and kiss me, and I'll jump up and hug her, and shout:
Mummy, good morning, mummy!
I want mummy to come to me now, at once. The door ought to open,
and she should come in, now please, at once. I don't want to wait.
Mummy, why don't you come?
Come to me, to me and not Raphy. Not to Raphy. It's all because of
Mummy loves Raphy, and she doesn't love me. Perhaps I'll wake Raphy
up? He'll cry, and mummy will hear and she'll come? But then, they
wouldn't say I'd been a good girl. And she wouldn't come to me,
she'd go to him. No, I'd better not.
The wind cries. Perhaps he cries for his mummy, too?
When Raphy was in mummy's tummy, I said to her: Why do we need
another child? Look, you've got a child, why do you want another
And she said: It'll be nice! We'll have a baby in the house. You'll
see. darling, you'll see how lovely our baby will be.
And I said: But why, why do you need another baby? You already have
And she answered: You'll have a sweet little brother, or a sister.
And you'll see how nice it will be and what fun!
But it isn't true. She doesn't let me help her, she doesn't let me
even touch him. And when he fell down, she was terribly angry. And
he doesn't love me, not at all. And she doesn't love me either. No
one loves me. She loves Raphy, not me. She gives him her own milk,
from her breast. Because she loves him. And me she gives milk from
a cup. And when the cup fell and broke, and the milk spilt all over
my new dress, she was very cross, and she said: What has happened
to you, Yael? When you were small, you always behaved so well, and
now you have started breaking cups! She doesn't love me, no, she
doesn't love me.
She loves Raphy and she loves Yisrael. Yisrael stands and looks at
Raphy and says: Son, how are you, my son? No one says to me: My
I want to be a boy. Why do I always have to be a girl? Sometimes I
want to be like Raphy, and my daddy would stand there and say: Son,
how are you, my son?
But my daddy isn't there anymore. My daddy is only in the picture
on the wall. High up on the wall. I get on a chair, and stand very
near and high, and look at the face of my daddy. And mummy says:
"Remember, meidele, remember. This is our daddy."
And I ask: Why do you always say "meidele"?
And mummy says: He used to call you that, that's what daddy called
you: meidele mine. And she cries. I don't cry. I look at my daddy's
face. Why is my daddy only in the picture? Why do all the other
children have daddies, and I have no daddy? They always tell me:
Your father fell in battle, your father is a hero. I don't want a
hero for my daddy. I want my daddy. Not in the picture on the wall.
Just my daddy. That's all.
And if he fell in battle, why didn't they pick him up? Why didn't
they bring him home, to me, to mummy? Mummy would have taken care
of him, and I would have looked after him, and daddy wouldn't have
died. But they didn't pick him up, and they didn't bring him home,
and he died there in the hospital. I know, I remember. Mummy thinks
I don't remember because I was so small then. But I do remember, I
I woke up, suddenly; the light was on and mummy was not in her
Mummy was sitting, with her eyes shut and her face very white. She
didn't say a word, and they didn't say a word. And one had a big
gun, and he was tall. And I'm not afraid, because they are our
boys. And I get out of bed and go to the table. And the tall one
lifts me up in his arms, and holds me very tight. And something
cold and hard hurts my arm, but I keep quiet. And he says: Fanya,
the child's woken up. And mummy opens her eyes, and looks at me,
but her eyes don't see me. Her eyes are open but they don't see me,
and I'm very frightened. And the tall boy says: Fanya. And again:
Fanya! And the small one doesn't say anything. And mummy doesn't
speak. And her eyes don't see.
Suddenly she gets up, and says: Let's go. And she takes me,
quickly, and dresses me very quickly, and the tall one says: It's
very cold, Fanya. There's a strong wind, we have a long way to
And he takes her coat and puts it on mummy's shoulders, and he
takes me and wraps me up in the big blanket, and takes another
blanket. And takes his gun. And the short one puts out the light,
and we go out and he shuts the door.
And mummy says: Drive fast, Yisrael, drive fast. And he says: I am
And she squeezes my hand very hard, so it hurts, and she says:
Hurry, hurry, we might be in time. And he doesn't say
The wind howls just like now. The road is bad, the road is long.
The car jumps, and mummy says: We might be in time ... All along
she keeps saying:
Hurry ... We might... Hurry, hurry.: ..
And of course there is shooting all the time. Small shooting and
big shooting. The small says: Tak-tak-tak-tak-tak-tak! And the big
Then suddenly I'm awake. There are many lights, and mummy says:
Take the child. And somebody puts me on the floor, and I'm all
alone. I'm standing in a corridor, and the corridor is very long
and very white, and at the end there is an open door. And I walk to
that door, and go in, and stand at the door. And the room is full
of light and everything is white, and there are lots of beds, and
mummy is sitting by a bed, and in that bed lies my daddy. I don't
know if this is my daddy. Because his face is not my daddy's face,
and his hand is not my daddy's hand. And I didn't know then. But
now I do know: it was my daddy. He fell, and he couldn't get up, so
they took him there, to that house.
If I had gone with him, I wouldn't had let him fall. I would have
carried his gun and wouldn't let him fall. And I wouldn't have let
the bullets touch him. And if they did knock him down, I'd have
picked him up at once, and then he would be whole again, just as
And now I have no daddy. Now I have only a hero on the wall for a
daddy. And I don't know what kind of face my daddy has: the face
that was there in the bed, or the face in the picture on the wall,
or in the picture in the cupboard. So many faces, and no face. No
Mummy thinks I have forgotten. Because I was a baby then, such a
little one; but I remember.
And then ... afterwards ... afterwards ... then one day mummy came
and brought Yisrael, and kissed me, and said: This is Yisrael.
Yisrael will live with us.
And that was true. He loved me. He loved me so much. Until Raphy
came. Now Yisrael loves Raphy. And mummy loves Raphy, only him. And
no one loves me, no one in the whole world.
All because of Raphy. And they don't allow me even to touch him.
But I will touch him, now, at once. I'll take him, and open the
window, and throw him out. And that will be good. And then Raphy
won't be there anymore, only I'll be at home, and mummy will love
me, and Yisrael will lovme, everyone will love me. Just like before
The floor is so cold. It hurts my feet. Now I've put on the light.
Raphy's asleep. He looks so very small in his cot.
I wake him up: Raphy, get up, Raphy!
And suddenly Raphy opens his eyes. He looks at me, and opens his
mouth, and smiles and laughs! Really, truly, Raphy is smiling! This
is the first time Raphy has laughed. Before, he never laughed, not
once, and now he's laughing. I laugh with him, and Raphy laughs and
talks to me, with his eyes he's talking to me. He says: You're my
And I shout: Mummy, mum-my, come here! Look - look, look how
Mummy comes running in, and lifts me up and hugs me tight: - Yaely,
why are you without your shoes? And what's all this light? Why
aren't you asleep?
And I say: Why, I just wanted to see how Raphy smiles. For the
first time, Mummy, did you see him laughing? I was the first to see
him, wasn't I?
Of course, says mummy, of course you were the first. You are my own
big daughter. My clever daughter. But you're all cold, Yaely. Now
we'll put you to bed.
Mummy, I ask, do you think Raphy loves me?
Of course, says mummy, certainly. Everybody loves you. Raphy, and
I, and Yisrael, everyone. And now, darling, close your eyes, and go
Mummy, mummy, stay with me, don't go ....
Published in 1960 in Argosy, No.7, by the Zionist Organization,