Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER SEVEN
A State of Equanimity

1

The state of equanimity spread its state over him. Everything that came upon him he accepted magnanimously, he didn't grumble and didn't complain. He had gotten used to the caprices of the sun and the whims of the winds. The dry heat waves that lap the marrow of a man's bones, the dust that shrivels the skin, the yellow light that sears the eyes and the air that infuses boredom, and all the changes in the climate didn't drive him out of his state. If he found work, he worked, if he didn't find work, he wasn't depressed. On days when he was idle, he went to the library and read a book, and in the evening he went to the People's Center to read newspapers. And if there was a speaker or a lecturer there, he sat and listened, and didn't get up from his seat until all the discussions were over, whether they were a repetition of things that had already been said two or three times over, or the opposite. And even if he returned home half dead, he returned to the People's Center the next day for the same things.

In the People's Center, Isaac met all kinds of people, including a few of the fellows from Jerusalem, who came there secretly, keeping it from their fathers, for anyone who went to the People's Center they regarded as a heathen and a heretic. With their heavy clothing and black felt hats and their very motion, which looked as if they had to account for every single movement before they made it, and especially with their thirsty eyes, they stood out from all the other visitors to the People's Center. That thirst in their eyes was partly a thirst for the real purpose the world was created for, for what makes the world worth living in, and partly a thirst for a bit of freedom in life. They don't yet have any image of that real purpose and

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