Only Yesterday

By S. Y. Agnon; Barbara Harshav | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Days of Grace

1

His days passed smoothly. His livelihood was at hand and there was no need to worry about tomorrow. And now he was used to the climate of Jaffa. The sun didn't crush his brain by day and the damp of night didn't weary his bones. He feared neither the winds nor the heat wave. And when people grumbled about the Hamsins that sucked their marrow and dried their skin, he would say, On the contrary, I like the Hamsins, for I bathe in them as in a pool of sun. Whether he exaggerated a lot or whether he exaggerated a little, this was a display of goodwill and affection for the Land.

A special affection did he feel for the sea. At first he was terrified to approach it lest it rise up and wash him away; now he goes into it and isn't scared. And on summer days, when he leaves his work, and needless to say on Friday evenings, he bathes in the sea. But some of the excitement he felt when the sea appeared to him for the first time on the way to Trieste still stirred his heart. And just as he is amazed at the sea, so he is amazed at himself when he bathes in it and at the children who play in it. That water that can cover the land, schoolchildren play in it and aren't afraid. And that is nothing compared with the Gynmasium students who make human pyramids in the sea, and when the pyramid is very very high, they all jump off into the water at the same time. And one of them makes himself into a boat and his friends sail on him. And sometimes someone disappears from the group and reappears in a boat standing in the sea far away from the land.

On days when the sea rages and you don't bathe in it, Isaac walks on the beach. Terrifying waves rise from the sea and strike one

-78-

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