It was the running of the Jews. Not in Khazakstan but at Melbourne’stan.
Historically, you only saw a bunch of Jews running if there was a fire or a pogrom. But yesterday hundreds of Jews were afoot, an infrequent event since the original Fun Run across the Red Sea. (On that occasion all the Israelites crossed the line. The Egyptians failed to finish.)
We Jews were not alone at the Tan: joining us were Africans from the Horn and from Mandela country; a pair of Iranians, a smiling Swiss, sundry Catholic Australians; the odd Chinese, a couple of Argentines and their Australian born progeny. And my wife and my not-very-old oldest grandchild.
If a kilometre is one thousand metres and the average human pace is one metre, and the circumference of the ‘Tan’ is 3.76 kilometres, then a single lap represents 3760 paces. Yesterday saw 376000 paces in the sisterhood of man.
My team, “Queue Jumpers”, named in honour of those disgraceful individuals who do not go through the correct channels, raised about 1800 dollars. The entire event raised in excess of $20,000, to be spent in two struggling Aboriginal communities in far north NSW and in a Community Centre for queue jumpers from Darfur.
Over coffee, before the event Akbar the Persian storyteller told a story. Akbar has elevated my runs over 25 years – ‘one quarter of a century’, he observes – with folktales from his homeland. Yesterday’s story: The revolution was coming in Iran. We knew people, Bahai, whose houses were burnt by militants. A friend said to us – do not stay in your house. It is not safe. They will burn your house next.
We decided to leave. We went to a cousin’s house. But another warned – ‘this house will be burned tonight.’
We had to leave. We all ran from the house but a man with a big automatic weapon stood outside. He said: ‘Do not go. They will burn this house only when my body is dead.’
That man was Savak. Secret Police. But we did not wait. Instead we ran. We ran to the house of the parents of this young woman…
Akbar here indicated his niece, Paloma. It turns out that Paloma -‘dove’ in Spanish – speaks Spanish fluently. This dove was born in Bristol. She takes up the story: My father was in America. He bought a red Ford Mustang. I sat in the back; there were only two doors. He brought the Ford Mustang to Bristol and he drove us, Mother and me and Father, to France, then all across Europe, all the way to Iran. I was four when we left Bristol, but I remember the red car, I remember I sat in the back.
Akbar takes up the story: We ran to the house of Paloma’s father and mother, all of us – myself, my parents and my cousin. Paloma’s family took us in and we stayed. We stayed in their house for nine months and we were safe.
And then we came to Australia.
Akbar smiled. He said it was time for a real Persian story. He told a folk story, of Mullah Nasruddin. Akbar’s story took us to a different age, a different place. We sat in the sunshine and watched and listened to the genial teller of tales as he smiled and talked.
Then we arose and ran, we Aussies, we Jews, we Muslims; we Africans and Catholics; we old and wrinkled ones, we new and sprightly ones; we arose and ran 376,000 footsteps in the Sisterhood of Man.
A brilliant portrait of the artist as a modest but praiseworthy humanitarian, whose point of view and moral values are firmly placed beyond the narrow confines of dogma, whether sectarian, ethnic or political.
thank you for responding
thank you for your approbation of ” a brilliant portrait of the the author…”
as to the balance of your comment, the only novelty is its tardiness; i wondered whether you had lost interest or lost animus or had simply wearied of the pursuit
it is hard for a reader to avoid the conclusion that you dislike the writer simply for being “a modest but praiseworthy humanitarian…(outside) the narrow confines of dogma., whether sectarian, ethnic or political”
that is the impression formed by readers other than myself
unlike other readers of this blog, you have every means of responding to me directly and privately;
this would allow a fuller exchange, a kindlier one, if you chose, of voice to warm voice
it would not, however, satisfy your need to pursue the public abuse of this other for my simple refusal to be whom i am not
thank you for your fidelity in following my writing
Thanks Howard for your beautiful words, and for your fantastic fundraising efforts yesterday for Jewish Aid.
Reading your posts! I cannot believe I actually met you at the launch of “RAFT” and you were standing still, well almost! I’m extremely fortunate you “honoured” me by endorsing my copy of your book. Howard I do hope you’re now running because you really want to, not for the other reasons that Jewish people seem to have been running for eternity? This is Melbourne, Australia, and I think your beaut!
Thanks Howard,I realy appreaciated that nana xxx