The contrast was sharp. The contrast between the girl who grew up on a farm in
the Negev desert, in a trailer at the foothills of the Hebron mountains, and the
young lady who danced freely at a party on the landscaped roof of an apartment
building in Tel Aviv, was drastic.
Their little trailer contained two
sisters and two brothers, parents, countless dogs and cats, and many other
animals that came without invitation. Her father practiced lassoing the calves
by sending his sons running around outside the trailer and roping
The children drew freely on the walls, and when nature called, they
simply went outside.
“Let’s go visit Noam Naomi and the hungry children,”
we used to say.
I knew this girl would one day be a writer.
is sensitive and talented” I used to tell her parents “and you’ve already made
her suffer enough.” She was a painter. She would pick and crush flowers of
different colors for her pigments.
We used to play
“animal-vegetable-mineral” with them. We looked for a word beginning with C for
something that grows.
“Cancer,” said the little writer who did not yet
know her calling.
“Why cancer?” we asked.
“Because it grows,” she
“Key,” we said, when we needed something for
“What is it? What’s a key?” asked these children of nature, who had
never seen one. They never locked the small trailer, and in any case there
wasn’t anything in it worth stealing.
THEIR FARM was near a Palestinian
village, and a bit north of there, there’s another one.
olive trees were uprooted from time to time, and sometimes calves were stolen;
guarding the land at night with weapons was routine.
One night two
beautiful calves were stolen from their herd. A Palestinian friend from one of
the villages gave them information about where they were being held. At dawn we
reached the village. The lead was not very specific and we searched but found
“This way of searching is not effective,” I said to my friends,
“We should search only in places where there are hay and straw
With a smaller number of targets for our search, we soon found
one of the calves.
In this way the children grew up – horses, cows,
guards and thieves. Goat milk from the yard, saplings of trees and
The years passed, their parents got divorced, they left the farm,
and for many years we have not seen the “hungry children.”
And here she
is on a rooftop in Tel Aviv; the child writer is now a doctoral student in
literature, writing stories. She has the same sensitive look, with a hint of
sadness in her eyes, a bit lost. She proudly displays her wedding ring. Like
her, it is very thin and fragile. Here she is on some rooftop in the city, dance
music in the air, yet she will perhaps always hear the howling jackals of her
childhood.The writer is author of
Sharon: The Life of a Leader (2011).