Monday, April 11, 2011

Old Man on the Wharf (Tel Aviv)

Old Man on the Wharf (—Tel Aviv) “We’ll surely have rain sometime this morning,” said the grey-haired old man leaning over the railing at the front of the pier, fishing rod and reel in hand—bait bucket by his side—ready to recast, looking up at the sky and then turned after looking at the fellow he was talking to—turned and without waiting for an answer went back to winding up his fly rod, and untangling the last of the fishing line from the reel ((one of those fast action, stiff looking rods, bendable more so at the tip, thus generating higher line speed and longer casts, which was good because the old man was casting into the wind)(it was a nylon line tied between the fly line and the reel, used to act as an additional line)); the old man then cast his line back out into the Mediterranean Sea; the city of Tel Aviv behind him. “Getting a nibble?” asked Evens. The old man didn’t say a word, pulled in his line; he had lost the bait and the fish, as they say: the goat and the rope. The incident brought a smile to Evens’ face, his eyes weary of mind (he had talked sporadically with the old man a few minutes more, as he again untangled his line from his reel, in that he had already talked to him much longer than he had expected) The old man stumbled about on a little wobbly wooden—homemade looking—stool he had brought with him, trying to find the exact and most comfortable position without falling over the edge of the wharf. He mumbled boastfully of fish he had caught there on previous occasions, and in particular a day ago, knowing Evens was still present, and most probably listening. For Evens, it was an uneventful morning of a man’s life that somehow seemed to him, amusing and in someway sad. I mean, to walk ever morning out to this dock area, in old age, to depend upon going to its edge with rod and reel to catch a possible fish, looking every morning at the sky to give point to the day—to look forward and depend upon this happening, ‘What dullness, and boredom!’ he thought. And kicking his heels, putting his hands into his trouser pockets, he left that moment of unexpected sadness that had come over him. Evens felt an instantly recognizable parting with that old fisherman, yet somehow the old man with his confidence in his future and thrill for life, made his hotel bound walk more cheerful. “What makes a man, fishing in a corner of the world,” thought Evens, “watching the sky, peering day after day out into the sea, content?” Second thought, “Perhaps he had become what he wanted to be—is that possible?” At the hotel standing outside alongside the steps on the sidewalk leaning against the hotel itself, Evens had stopped to think, back into his mind came the old man. Thus, pursuing the thought, “Surely times had been worse for the old man? Perhaps he has not had the fortune on which to live at peace, and all his youthful days were filled with ravage and war? Yes, yes, indeed, these peaceful days must comfort the last days of the old man, that’s it!” The figure of the old man pleased him, as he continued to stand outside the hotel, the warm wind blowing through the streets, across his brow, he felt a drop of rain, then two, then three, “The old man was right” Evens remarked, under his breath, shyly. No: 788 (4-5-2011)