| All I Ask |

All I Ask: Chapter 45

B

ugi was feeling good that day as he walked home from work. Although it wasn’t an easy job, it was nice working in the yeshivah kitchen. The other workers included him in their camaraderie, Yanky and Nochumku often popped in to ask how he was doing, and Chezky, the manager, had even agreed to pay him weekly advances on his salary in cash.

“Maybe I’ll end up a pampered prince myself one day,” he thought with a half-smile as he turned onto Rechov Haneviim. He reached his building, took the few steps toward his rental unit, and flinched. An inert body was lying across his doorway.

“Lulu!” he cried.

“What? Oh,” Lulu said sleepily. “I guess I scared you, huh?”

“Yes, kind of,” Bugi replied, inserting his house key into the lock. He stepped inside, turned on the light, and waited for Lulu to follow him in.

“Nu?” he called, seeing his guest hesitating at the threshold.

“Nu, what?”

“Why aren’t you coming in?”

“Because I made a decision not to go moving in on you, once you had your own place. That’s what I decided back when we were walking around town, looking for an apartment for you and taking down phone numbers. I thought to myself, when Bugi has a nice, orderly apartment, he’s not going to need beggars coming around, looking for a place to sleep.”

“Then why… why did you come?”

“Because I have nowhere else to be. Last night I slept in Gan Ha’atzmaut — if you call that sleeping. I nearly froze.”

“Why didn’t you come to me?!” Bugi rebuked him.

“First you ask me why I came, and now you ask me why I didn’t come,” the old beggar grumbled. “I didn’t come yesterday because I was too tired to walk here. I wrapped myself up tight in a blanket and rubbed my hands and feet, and I guess I fell asleep eventually, because in the morning I woke up.”

“So come in, first of all,” said Bugi. He felt so rich and generous. He had not only an apartment and an electric radiator, but a guest, too! Happiness washed over him. Being able to give was a wonderful new experience.

“Good, I was waiting for you to invite me,” said Lulu. “I didn’t want to come on my own and move in on you. But if you’re inviting me, I don’t mind at all.”

“I’ll make you some tea.”

“Okay, thanks.”

While Bugi rinsed out two disposable cups, Lulu sighed and said, “I think I should look for an apartment, too. I’m getting old, and the nights are getting cold. By the way, why was it so warm in here already, as soon as we came in?”

“I put the radiator on a Shabbos timer,” said Bugi. “Good idea, no? It turns on 15 minutes before I get home, and when I walk in, the house is warm.”

“Great idea. Maybe I’ll do the same thing when I have my own place,” Lulu said in a near-whisper. He spread his comforter out on the floor, rolled himself up in it, and in two seconds he was asleep.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 801)

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