27 July 2014

In the land of the wolf Verdi was playing

A She-Goat and Seven Kids

                            by Rachel Shihor

Dear children, said the she-goat to her seven kids before she went out; there now, I am leaving you, but I shall return soon and I shall bring back something tasty. Now you lot, don't get bored, don't quarrel, and don't open the door to anyone. Now I shall lock the door behind me and that is how I want to find it upon my return.
    She-goat skipped numbly in the roop, leaping over two chairs and a half-full pail of water that she'd prepared in order to wash the floors before she took the slightly brash decision to venture out on a quick shopping spree, leaving the kids to fend for themselves. And so, the she-goat leapt over the two chairs and the pail, charging the room's music system with electricity, and leaving the kids with Verdi's Requiem.
It's a long piece of music, she said to them, but by the time it is over, I shall be back. The she-goat grabbed a basket in one of her front hoofs and off she went. The kids were all alone. The eldest said: If the wolf shows up we shall not open the door, but if Uri comes over, we shall open the door and play with him. All the while, Verdi's music did not cease, and from within it, loud voices could be heard. The wolf knocked on the door, but the kids couldn't hear the knock, since it mingled with the calls of 'Requiem! Requiem!' The wolf decided to return later. When he did, the music was still playing but now it was the Lacrimosa, and the kids peeked through the keyhole and saw the wolf. ―Open up, dealing kids, I am your mother and I have brought you tasty foods from the market; the wolf had changed his voice making it sound like that of a she-goat. The kids really wanted to give in to the temptation because the wolf's voice was very pleasant to t hem. They were also getting a bit hungry. However, they had seen the wolf through the keyhole and they recalled their mother's warning.
    Retracing his steps, the wolf returned for the third time. This time he had dipped his front paws in some flour, which he had at home and which he had set aside for occasions such as these. ―Look at my hoofs, darling kids, the wolf said, have you ever seen a wolf with white hoofs? I am not a wolf, but your mother, the she-goat. The kids were gradually being won over, since the eyes can occasionally be misled - that much they had already learned at school, and, the oldest kid, said, given that, beyond doubt, the senses occasionally deceive, it is prudent never to trust them completely. The eldest kid decided that the door should be opened even if it did incur a slight risk, and he announced his decision to his siblings. None objected. Meanwhile, mother-goat had decided to stay out a little longer because she thought of buying another pair of shoes, white this time, for her front two hoofs. At that moment, in the land of the wolf, Verdi was playing his Agnus Dei, and the eldest kid heard within it his mother's voice entreating him to look after the children.

From Rachel Shihor, Stalin is Dead.  London: Sylph Editions, 2013.  Translated from the Hebrew by Ornam Roten.

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