Amira and the Carpenter in the Woods

Author’s note:

This is not a story that really happened. But its setting and some of the scenes are based on historical facts. There may of course, be faulty details of history that I have overlooked because of my lack of expertise. To this, I beg the reader’s pardon. I only meant to write what I think would have turned out if a certain man happened to be in that part of the wood to meet people and so on. And to also attempt to convey the depths of the things I deem necessary for people to know, in the best method that I know of, as I have been impelled to write.

***

Bang! Went the axe again as it fell upon a tree. A couple more blows brought it down to the ground. The man was now busy chopping it to the proper size for it to be brought back home. He was wearing a sort of Kippah headband to keep his sweat and hair in place.

In those days, people worked hard and life was simple. In those days, people built their houses with mud bricks and wood. If you were a boy and happen to be a Jew, you had to be sent up to the synagogue to learn to read and write Hebrew. Roads were already being built. Peace reigned the land and the Roman Empire have a lot to do with it. Ah, Roman Empire. already extending to Spain, Germany, Asia Minor, Syria, -and Israel.

His hand made its way to the top of his forehead to get his handkerchief, wiping his face with it. The forest was quiet now that he stopped his work, except for the constant chirping of the birds, and the occasional falling of a leaf. He looked looked up at the sky and noticed that it was already almost time for lunch. His limbs were already smarting from working all morning. Clearing up his tools, he heard a faint cry.

Just a few stone’s throw away was a girl. It was just moments ago when she decided to venture to the woods for a little bit. She was following a forest path and she was not lost, or so she told herself. Being just a ten-year old must have been her excuse. But everybody ought to know at that time that some ground clearings are often mistaken for paths. Just a little bit of clear earth among the tree-roots could deceive an inexperienced eye, which could lead to loosing oneself at the heart to the forest. That is exactly what happened to her. She found herself utterly lost, and regretted that venturing the woods ever came into her head.

By and by the trees around her became more unfriendly and then altogether hostile; grabbing her dress from side to side, try as she might to wrench free from their hold. Tripping and sliding, she went on not really knowing where to go. Gradually, she got more hungry and miserable.

She would have gone on walking had not an uprooted tree-root tripped her and gave her a nasty bruise on her left foot. She finally gave herself up as a loss and slumped to the ground to lament her miserable state as someone lost in a forlorn wood,. That was when the carpenter heard her. Though she did not know it still, he was already starting to walk towards the weeping.

He found her crouched down like a ball, with her hands about her face trying to wipe away big plump tears rolling from her eyes.

“Why do you cry?” he asked.

“Sir, I lost my way”, she said between her sobs. The girl looked at the stranger curiously.

“What is your name?”, said the man.

“Amira”, she answered.

“Come,” he offered his hand. “Would you like something to eat?”

“Where are we going?” said Amira.

“We are going to the river to catch some fish.” With that he took her small hands to his.

He held the hand as they passed some more trees. They were swaying gently and singing. Looking up at his face, she saw that it was still youthful. It was stern and strong, and rather lonely and grave for some reason, for it held deep secrets and sorrows. His eyes were old. Very old. It echoed into deep chasms she knew nothing of.

They arrived at the river. After picking a perfect spot under the tree, he started to sit down for fishing. There was silence for a while as the stranger caught some fishes. Stringing it to sticks, they roasted it to the fire.

The fish slowly smelled nicer as it was more cooked, especially if people who were smelling it were very hungry.

“Here,” the man offered her a bread. He had only brought with him one bread. It was not enough for the party of two. Amira took it.

His hands, just like that of a workman, were rough and brown and were resting on his knees. She watched him as he breathed tiredly , his head laid back. His hair was also resting droopy on the sides of his head for they were wet from the morning toil. It was clear that he was exhausted. Thinking that he was quite bigger than her and therefore needed more food,she broke the bread into two and offered him a bigger piece.

“Please… here is your bread,” the girl said. “Please eat.”

“But what about you?” he asked.

“It’s okay. I’ll just eat it by little pieces and make it last longer in my mouth.” She was used to that. They always did it at home.

He seemed to be taken aback, but even so, he took it, and was pleased. He said thank you, and then ate his piece.

Now, she turned her attention towards her own bread. Curious enough, the bread was whole. No trace of the big broken piece was found to be missing.

“Did you see that?” her eyes widened. “It became whole! Did you make it so, sir?” But he was already immersed on fixing the fishes. she saw his lips curl up into a silent smile.

Much as she was curious on what happened on her bread, she was far too hungry to delve into it. Soon enough, she was stuffing her mouth full of it, along with the fish.

“Sir, why were you out there in the forest?” Amira managed to ask between mouthfuls.

“I am a carpenter,” he explained. “I come to get a good piece of wood to make a fine table for an officer.”

“He must be a roman citizen,” said Amira after a sigh.

“He is. Why do you ask?” he said.

“Romans seem to get all they want. I think they are a good deal happier. I wish I was a roman citizen, so we could eat all the bread we want,” Amira said. She did not quite notice for she was so much immersed on talking and eating, but he was already handing her another bread. She instinctively took it and gobbled it up.

“Child,” the man said as he watched her eat “There are things even more delightful than food. But I know a place, where you need not be a roman citizen to have your fill.”

“Really?” her little head tried to understand what he said. “Could you take me there?”

“Soon. When it is time. But not today.There is still a long journey ahead of you.”

“Oh,” she said, rather disappointed. But she recovered shortly and her face shown. “But it doesn’t matter. They say the Messiah is already come,” her eyes widened and glowed. “Also, I have heard tell-tale talks…” and her voice sunk into a whisper, “that He’s already among us as the prophesy says. He could be anyone walking about the streets! Maybe even the very person that you meet next!”

“Indeed, indeed,” laughed the man. Amira always remembered that laugh afterwards. She heard it when she sat beside the cackling winter fire, or when she saw the hearty and the bright birds and flowers of springtime. She heard it when she saw the gentle morning dew descending on their misty garden. “What would you tell Him then, if you meet?”

“I would… I would…,” she began as she thought about all the possibilities. “I would touch Him, so I would know if He truly is real. And I would want to know what kind of person He is. and wonder what would make such an important person laugh or cry.”

***

Note: Guess it’s too full of sentiments. I’ve read that “sentiments don’t sell”, but hang it, never mind.