Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Barboonyas*

My father's work place was in Tel Aviv while our family lived in Holon, a suburb south of Tel Aviv. Every afternoon, after a long day of work, my father had to go to the Cental Station in Tel Aviv and wait for bus no. 8 to come and take him home. The Central Station in Tel Aviv was the busiest market place in the whole country at the time, and all kinds of vendors were offering their merchandise to everybody, particularly to people like my father who were waiting in line for the bus to come and had nothing to do in the meantime.
One Friday, as he was standing in line, my father was approached by a vendor who was trying to sell some fish. These were not just plain fish but a very special kind known as "Barboonyas". When fried, these fish were a real delight, and my father knew that we were going to enjoy them, especially on the coming Sabbath. On top of that, the vendor offered the Barboonyas for a bargain price - only one lira per kilo compared to ten liras per kilo which they were charging in the store. Evidently, the vendor was stuck with the Barboonyas which he had not succeeded to sell and was now anxious to get rid of them. My father did not hesitate and bought three kilos of the Barboonyas - an opportunity like that does not come every day.
He was quite cheerful when he got home carrying the bag with the Barboonyas. Going straight to the kitchen, he laid the bag on the table, and proudly announced
"Did I bring you all a surprise!"
My Mom who had just finished cleaning the kitchen for the Sabbath, opened the bag, looked inside, and said angrily
"Are you out of your mind or what?"
"What?" my father did not understand.
"Don't you know what day is today?" she raised her voice.
"Friday," he said "These are in honor of the Sabbath."
"In honor of the Sabbath" she taunted him "And who's going to clean them? You?"
"I just wanted to surprise you." he tried to defend himself, raising his voice too.
"And out of all the days of the week couldn't you pick any other day, let's say Thursday, to surprise me?" she answered "Did it have to be on Friday when I clean the whole house?"
"On Thursday" he gave it a last try "I couldn't afford them. They were ten liras per kilo. Today they were only one lira per kilo."
"You know what?" she said, boiling with anger "Do with them whatever you like. I'm not touching them."
"Fine" said my father and went out of the kitchen.
"Fine" she mimicked him and washed her hands, signaling that she is done working for the day.

At this point I, who witnessed all that, couldn't take it any more.
"I'll tell you what." I said "I'm gonna clean them."
I took the bag to the yard and cleaned the fish. All that my Mom had to do now was fry them. Boy, did we have a feast when we came back from the beach on Saturday and my Mom served us the Barboonyas.

* A story by Hana Salik

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