LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED FULL KING

 

Since early childhood I loved tall trees. I used to find my tree, climb it and build a small house in which I disappeared for long hours. I acquired a hammer and nails, wood planks and mattresses to upgrade my private nest to a real room. As long I kept my secret to myself I was the happiest kid in the neighborhood. I used to sit on a branch looking down at the people running by and imagine that I’m this skinny woman with the fat dog. What does she think about? Where she is heading to? What interests her? Or the soldier that smoked while leaning against my trunk, looking sideways as if afraid he would be caught. I decided that when I grow up I’ll write about the lives of those people that run on the ground level of my palace. I couldn’t hide my place for ever. There were twin brothers, David and Josef, who followed me and saw that I climbed up my   tree and they climbed up right after me. Josef said that its how poor people live and it’s not for him, but David was inspired and asked to join. I couldn’t refuse because he was much stronger than me and he offered to give me his parrot as an entrance fee. From that day on it was a strange threesome on my tree, David, Azuki the parrot and me.

Azuki had sharp observations about the people walking down the street:

 

Ugly bitch

Old maniac

Love is all you need

Full king

Don t call us we’ll call you

 

Were some of his remarks.

 

We had good life there, David brought fruits and pistachios for Azuki, and I brought cakes and sugary soda. We had our conversations there regardless of the world outside, for us there was only our tree, the trunk, the leaves that surrounded us and Azuki on our shoulders shouting, ‘I’ll show you who the man is.’

I asked him how come there is such a difference between two twin brothers, Josef looked clean and aristocratic all the time. He said that from an early age he wanted to be an investment expert and become a millionaire. David was the black sheep, mud on his legs and shoes, a very poor student but an enthusiastic reader of symbolism and philosophy.

 

The answer David gave me is one that I cherish till today. On many occasions I passed it on to my students. David said, ‘to an alien we all look like twin brothers, but what defines us is always hidden inside.’

David had a clear and strong sense of his mortality; we were around twelve years old then.

It s a bit awkward to speak about death at such a young age, don’t you think? I asked him.

I’ m not speaking about death because there is no death. There is life as we know it and the afterlife, which is enigmatic and we still haven’t managed to decipher it.

 

‘Full king’, said Azuki.

 

David spotted a teacher he disliked and threw some pistachios at him; he was spotted. A gathering formed below our tree with our headmaster shouting, ‘It was Josef, we see you Josef, Josef get down here’, as more and more of our teachers joined in.

 

‘Josef’, they shouted.

 

And then they shouted louder, ‘Josef, Josef.’

 

Eventually they brought a ladder, and a firefighter climbed to our nest and asked, ‘who is Josef?’

We both remained silent

 

‘Which of you is Josef?’

When unanswered he took us both by the ears and dragged us down.

 

‘Why didn’t you answer?’ shouted the headmaster at David.

 

‘Why should I?’ Replied David

 

‘Because we called for you loud and clear’.

 

‘You called and called and called louder but you didn’t t call my name it’s better to whisper the right name than to shout the wrong one.’

 

After this incident we were more careful, we avoided our tree for a few weeks and after returning David said that it reminded him of synagogues with a lot of people praying and shouting louder and louder but calling the wrong name.

 

‘And what is the right name?’

 

‘Do you really think God checks your plate to ensure that you eat Kosher, so why to call him or it?’ Later he said that the truth can always be reached with a local call.

 

The rumors started to spread that the municipality was about to widen the road, so the old trees on the right side of the pavement, our tree included, would have to be removed. We tried to enlist all our neighbors. We drew falling trees as graffiti on the walls; we knocked on doors pleading for mercy. We had a bigger cause than the usual school or homework, we fought for our home.

 

David told me that those are moments to cherish because each human being deserves a trunk to lie on and a tree to fight for.  Azuki spit his pistachio and said: ’love is all you need’ he took another pistachio and flew from my shoulder to a higher branch.

 

We became, for a short time, the center of attention. Some girls from our school wanted to visit in our hidden tavern on the doomed tree. A young journalist from the local newspaper interviewed us about our heroic campaign for the fauna in our country. David said to her that we are not fighting for the fauna in our country, just for our little home on the tree we choose to live in but if each human being will choose a tree and fight for it as we do it might change something. After the article was published with the photo of the three of us on page twp we became local celebrities. The girls were eager to share our home and climb with us. Having seen that Josef tried to join us but David rejected him, and the girls, ‘we need to keep it pure’, he said. There was a T.V. channel that joined the growing crowd. There was a short announcement on the local news about two boys and a parrot defending their tree against all odds. We let the cameraman take some pictures and a video of our home with the soundman recording David saying that if he was the mayor he would narrow the road instead of widening it and plant more trees. This was the headline, ‘brave boys fighting for a green city.’

 

The next day the mayor came to visit, Azuki greeted him with a friendly, ‘old maniac.’

 

‘You are causing a lot of trouble boys’, he said to us looking upward.

 

‘Would you like to visit our home’ asked David.

 

‘I don t think so, I’m getting bad publicity because of you guys, so what about you two coming down here and we’ll discuss giving you a brand new tree somewhere else.’

 

‘We don t want another tree’ said David and Azuki continued with, ’ugly bitch’.

 

‘Watch your mouths boys; there are a lot of people that follow you.’

 

David replied, ‘We know, so why not consider widening another road and leave our tree alone?’

 

This conversation was published in the news and caused about hundred people to come and visit us. This gathering interrupted the traffic. There were nervous drivers but there were those that stopped by and brought us cookies or a drink.

 

There was a city council meeting and our tree was on the agenda. The first journalist that interviewed us said that it might change the verdict for us and our tree.

 

For us it didn’t change. In the beginning of the winter, with the first rain, a monstrous D-9 knocked our tree down. Then it was torn away like a dying bull from the bull-fight arena.

 

Azuki was flying back and forth spitting pistachios and cursing, ‘ugly bitch and old maniac’ to all the people in uniform that he spotted. I was crying. David looked calm and said that we gave a good fight but there would be a day when a leaf would defeat the asphalt.

 

All this was many years ago. I told this story to my children and now to my grandchildren.

 

David lived seven more years; he died entering a mine field trying to save his platoon medic.

 

Azuki died about the same time when he climbed onto a fluorescent bulb. 

 

The road is wide now, but on the pavement adjacent to the spot where our tree stood, and our home, we built a small brick wall with anengraving from Azuki’s repertoire - Love is all you need full king.

 

Ted Barr, March 2014