Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Gabriella :: Personal Narrative Russia Judaism Papers

Gabriella Sometimes I still say your name, just to hold it in my mouth, to twirl it past the curves of vowels and into the trill of the l, the lilt of the final a. Gabriella, I still see your sharp, strange face, in street crowds and in airports, the flutter of your long hands tracing my belly button. I can’t remember Gabriella’s last name, something quite Russian and excitingly foreign to the five year old self of mine who last saw her. I don't know which part of Russia she lived in before coming here as part of a refugee plan for Soviet Jews, never even thought to ask. In 1983, I only knew that Russians were communists, and communists were bad, which was why Gabriella (stop, wait, say the name again, slowly). Gabriieeelllaaa ran away. I am four years old and have to read one whole book with chapters before starting kindergarten next week at Ezra Academy, a Jewish day school in Woodbridge, Connecticut which requires all students to read and write both Hebrew and English at a basic level upon entrance. When we met the principal over the summer, he said that I would be the youngest pupil by more than a year. For my book, I pick Meet Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from a shiny shelf at Stop n’ Shop while dangling over the front of the child seat in my mother’s shopping cart, already too round to fit in comfortably. That night, I curl into my pink flannel princess nightgown to read in my mother’s big maroon rocking chair. "Mommy, were the Jim Crow people commu..commm...communin," "Communists?" She smiles, and I watch for the crinkles at her eyes to tell me if she noticed my tangled pronunciation. "Are the people who hated Dr. King the same people who hate Gabriella?" "Who?" My mother drawls over the who, dangling the word like the glass in her hand, one sip left of pale rose colored wine so perfect I want to place it like dew on my tongue "Wine is only for mommies" "If I’m not allowed to drink more than one glass of ginger ale why can you drink five glasses of wine?" "Because it’s different for grownups, our stomachs are bigger" "Big enough for the whole bottle?" "Don’t be silly. Who were you asking me about before?" "Remember! The girl who is going to be in my class who you said Rabbi Scolnik helped rescue from the cc.

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