Old Shmuel Eregast was in the kitchen cooking and I listened to the sound of pots and pans, that somehow made me feel at home. I sat by the window and looked out over the empty street, the empty houses, the Christian plot where Deborah's father lay buried and couldn't find rest.
'This used to be a thriving community, you know, Christians and Jews side by side. No Arabs, of course. We lived of the land and had everything we needed, but the young ones wanted more and left. The old ones died or moved away to live close to their children.
'How come the cantor, Deborah's father lies buried in a Christian plot?' I asked. 'Was there no more room in the Jewish graveyard?'
'He died alone, everybody had already left. I was in America at the time, visiting my older brother. Apparently he collapsed in the street and was found a few days later by passing strangers who buried him. They notified the authorities and that's how we found out.'
Wonderful smells were emanating from kitchen. Outside the dog was getting up from where he lay sleeping under an old fig tree and slowly, yawning, made his way into the house.
'What kind of work did you do?'
'This used to be a restaurant, small, but with a nice courtyard for outdoor dining. I cooked, my wife served the customers, may her memory be a blessing.'
'A Jewish restaurant?'
'Kosher, you mean?' Shmuel turned away from the wood stove, waving a spoon and smiling mischievously. 'Well, my own personal interpretation of kosher, yes. No milk and meat together, of course, and no pork. Even the rabbi ate my food sometimes.'
I looked out the window. It was the end of the day and the shadows were growing longer, the light softer. Far in the distance I saw something move, it looked like a small group of people entering the village in a cloud of dust. As they came closer I recognized what appeared to be a large woman in a white dress leading a donkey who had another also rather big woman on its back. They stopped and seemed to confer. Then they moved on. Behind them hovered the ghost of the consuls wife, Deborah. I sat up and called out to my host.
'Shmuel, it looks like we're going to have company!