“One small problem. I don’t remember what he looks like,” said Yonatan
"All right, Dad, I’ll do my best,” said Yonatan. “And when I find him, what should I tell him?” He stretched out on the papasan chair and crossed his ankles.
“Tell him… tell him… well, actually, hmm...” Sandy knew what he’d like to tell Shalom. He’d like to tell him to stop being a fool and a disgrace to the family. He’d like to tell him to start acting like a mensch and come to London to get his money in a respectable manner, instead of hiding from his family. And if he insisted on not coming, then he should at least open a bank account and give them the details so the money could be transferred to him.
What else would he like to say to his brother? That their mother and father, zichronam l’vrachah, would be horrified if they knew their son was camping out on the streets. That they’d die of a heart attack if they were alive to see him eating in a soup kitchen. That’s what he wanted to tell Shalom. Oh, and did he mention that Shalom was crazy and putting the whole family to shame?
“Maybe you should try reframing the message,” said Marta, who was listening in on the conversation. “Instead of, ‘What do I want to tell Shalom,’ maybe think in terms of, ‘What would Shalom want to hear? What would make him want to come and see us?’ ”
“He wants to hear that he’s a successful man,” Sandy spluttered. “He always was trying to squeeze compliments out of me. Always trying to make me recognize him as a success in his own right. But he’s not going to hear that from me.”
“Because I’m not in the habit of lying.”
Yonatan, in his furnished apartment in Nachlaot, listened to this exchange between his parents. Then a heavy silence fell. Yonatan waited.
A minute… two minutes. Mum wasn’t talking, and neither was Dad.
Finally, Yonatan broke the silence. “Dad?”
“Maybe I shouldn’t tell him anything?” Yonatan groped for words. His idea wasn’t yet fully formed.
“What do you mean? Are you saying you’ll find my brother Shalom and just stand there looking at him, saying nothing?”
“No. I meant… I was thinking, how about if I try to strike up a friendship with him without telling him who I am? I could let him think I’m just a British tourist who’s taken an interest in him. He wouldn’t have to know I’m his nephew.”
“Hmm, that sounds good,” said Sandy. Marta was nodding along, too. “Then he won’t try to slip away from you. And once you’ve gained his trust, we can move forward.”
“All right, Dad. So I should go to the bus station now and try to find him?”
“One small problem. I don’t remember what he looks like,” said Yonatan. “I think you said you have a recent picture of him? Could you send it to me?”
“We’ll send it right away.”
“You don’t think he’ll recognize me, do you?”
(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 793)
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