I live with my grandfather in a small oasis out of sight beyond a hill near the beaten path that people called the Jericho road. Our oasis is small with a nice cool freshwater pond in the middle, surrounded by several (oh I don’t know how many because I cannot count them) beautiful, productive date trees. These trees produce the most delightful sweet soft skinned dates that you have ever tasted. hardly anybody knows about this place.
From time to time my grandfather asks me to take a basket full of dates into the city where I sell them. Selling our dates is quite easy; all I must do is offer a taste of one date and almost always the customer buys more and does not complain about the price I request.
Also when I’m in the city, I get to visit my uncle Amos who is an actor with a local performing group. He is able to assume the personality, the movement, the voice of almost any character you can imagine. He often dresses up like a Roman soldier and struts around looking very officious and I might add, vicious .
We have been under Roman rule for as long as I can remember of course that is only about 11 years. I am really a girl, but I look and move and talk like a boy. My grandmother was Greek, and she taught me a lot of Greek words so that I can speak with visitors, and they like that and by more dates.
I make my deliveries while riding on my favorite little donkey, called Bobo. We arrived at the marketplace with a large double bag full of dates, but the market was not full at all. I asked the lady who sells flatbread where all the people had gone. She told me they were up at the temple Mount because there was a rabbi who was going to be executed for speaking against Tradition and against Rome.
I immediately ran over to where I knew Uncle Amos could be found with his actors. They were all dressed up like Roman soldiers; I was so surprised that I did not know whether I should laugh or cry.
“Stay away from here,” he said, “these are dangerous times!”
I had to laugh and told him that we always have lived in dangerous times. He picked up one of his theatrical props, a long spear with special point. I had seen him use it before, along with a dagger that looks like it is really pushes into the body of the victim, spilling blood, but it’s all a theatrical trick.
I went back to the market and sold most of the dates. Bobo was tired and wanted to go home and so we went out the gates to the city and there, high up on a hilltop, I could see a large crowd of people witnessing executions of criminals. Even though he was reluctant, Bobo obeyed my orders and we climbed over there to sell more dates to the crowds.
I made some sales, and yet, felt sad to see the criminals up on crosses: Rome’s favorite form of punishment of foreigners, which is to say, non-Romans.
Suddenly uncle Amos arrived in is military costume along with several of his companions. One of the actors gave him a command and he approached one of the criminals and poked him in the ribs with his trick spear. The poor criminal screamed in pain, slumped his head and said something that I could not understand.
Lots of blood gushed out of the place where Amos had put his spear, just like it does during one of his plays.
Then a great commotion broke out. Other Roman soldiers entered the area, but Uncle Amos and his fellow actors seemed to disappear.
I just wanted to go home. I have the remaining dates to a lady who was crying most bitterly.