My eyes are closed and I am far away into the limitless, mountainous horizons of my mind. I hear wind blowing against branches and leaves, with the liquidity and substance of water moving underneath the surface of the ocean, and the winds breathing the most beautiful music my soul has ever heard. I feel a strange intimacy to this music, going back thousands of years. I am lost and fulfilled. I am home. Somewhere ahead, past many mountains, and intertwined within the wind, I hear a flute.
Who is playing this flute? Perhaps it is my grandmother who has finally come back to me. And she’s just made fresh pudding, with peanuts in the middle. Our little secret. But she never played the flute. She hated that racket. She once rushed at the TV with a baseball bat as Zamphir played the pan flute on PBS. That week, in church, she launched a campaign to stop everyone from donating to PBS. The campaign turned violent. My grandmother was run out of town, taking me with her across North America, living a life in constant disguise. Our most dependable costumes was my grandmother as a young Russian ballerina defector, and myself as the world’s first ten-year-old Hasidic rabbi.
We gave shows across the nation as Tatiyana and Shlomo the Lil’ Rabbi. We mostly did Cheap Trick covers and selections from The Starlight Express, but roller-skating is a tough gig in a long black robe. When we were finally discovered, it wasn’t because my grandmother was in her eighties, still dancing on the tips of her toes to Tchaikovsky in an attempt to fool tourists who thought they recognized her as the woman who once attempted to take Yanni hostage in an effort to snuff out PBS forever. It was because I froze as I was about to perform a Bris.
As the police pulled us apart, my grandmother in mid-twirl, a consummate pro 'till the very end, I cried to her, "I'm sorry, grandma. I'm so sorry." She reached for me then, trying to wrap her arms around me. "I'm the one," she said. "I'm the one who did this. Not you."
I open my eyes, as I wipe them. Those peanuts inside the pudding were never shelled. I miss that crunchy pudding.