I came to Israel from South Africa in 1967; I came as a volunteer after
Mashka Litvak - "At the First Rainfall"
Arnon, my big brother,
Thirty five years went by since the day you were killed. It’s the same kind of autumn; the fields have the same brown colors, just before the wheat sprouts. The first rain fell, and again, I feel the same terrible pain and longing as always. All those years and I still love you and hurt your loss. From one life event to another my longing for you becomes stronger. Sometimes I find myself speaking to you, telling you what I’ve been through, what has happened to me and even ask you some questions and wait for answers. I cry as I speak to you. My tears flow, even after such a long time, as if they have their own will. A month ago your fourth grandson was born, at the beginning of the year. Like every happy event in our family (which happened this time on the Jewish New Year), this event was also diluted down by the sadness of your absence, of you not sharing the joy with us. Your absence is like a wound in my heart which will never heal. It’s hard for me to describe the pain of longing. This pain takes me far away from here. I disconnect from the world I live and sail with you above in unending circles. Only the tears are a sign of my inner storm. When I land back in reality, my body is loose and my soul is shut until the pain lessens.
This is what has been going on for the last 35 years, and in all of that time there has been nothing that has kept your memory away from me, or dimmed my pain and filled the big void which I have inside me. Time froze on November 4th 1970 at 07:10. In your photo which I hung on the wall you are 26. Every time I look at it I see you, my older brother, it is as if time had never passed and you stayed 26. We disengaged from Gaza, the same city we conquered in June 1967, when you were a soldier. I had to know at the time, that you came out alive from that war, so I hitchhiked into the main street of Gaza with a leading military tank truck. I asked about you, somebody called you and you drove to meet me on a Jeep. We met in the middle of Gaza’s main street. Around us people were still shooting, we hugged and cried. Thirty eight years passed by and only now have we left Gaza.
Thousands of families became bereaved since then. Who knows how many more families will become bereaved. Exactly ten years ago, on the same day we had your 25th annual memorial ceremony, about ten hours after I put flowers on your grave, Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister who believed in peace and in a future of hope and reconciliation, was murdered. Since then, the fourth of November has become a national memorial day, but for us it will always remain your memorial day. The days will continue to go by, year after year. From time to time I find myself tearing with pain and longing and I never know in advance when the tears will stream down my face. It happens without warning, triggered by anything, an event, something I read that I want to share with you.
I miss you always, you are inside my heart forever, until I’ll join you.
I love you, my big brother,
Mashka Litvak, from Kibbutz Negba. Her father, Moshe, was killed as a result of the conflict even before she was born and she was named after him. Mashka grew up in the kibbutz with her mother and big brother Arnon, who was killed in the army in 1970. Mashka has since been a peace activist and was even wounded in her head and leg by shrapnel (one of which is still lodged in her head), during a “Peace Now” demonstration in which Emil Grunzweig was killed. She was also among the organizers of the peace rally during which Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated. The following was written by Mashka in commemoration of 35 years to Arnon’s death.