David was a young boy aged five or six when it happened, my uncle Yitzhak told me. He would go to great lengths to describe the extraordinary beauty of David and his bright eyes. That’s what I’ve always heard, perhaps it was true or perhaps one is used to glorify those who are no longer with us.
David and his older brothers lived in an immigrant absorption camp in Ein Shemer together with their father, Salah David, which was a busy man in great pain over the death of his wife, Zahra, who died in Hashed on their way to Israel, and left him alone with many children to raise and feed. One day, while playing outside, one of their tent’s poles fell and injured David’s thumb. A few hours later, when the finger was bloated and the child needed medical care, his father (my grandfather) took him to the hospital in Hadera (probably Hillel Yaffe hospital, according to my uncle Yitzhak). He was asked to leave the child at the hospital for treatment and to return the next day.
When he returned to take him, he was informed that the child had died; he couldn’t understand how such a minor injury caused a young child to die in one day. My grandfather, who didn’t know local customs and spoke only Yemenite Arabic and according to my uncle Yitzhak was still in mourning over the passing of his wife, has returned to the camp and did not inquire any further. Just like in so many similar stories, there was no body and there was no grave. But years later, as they found out, the child’s military conscription order arrived at their doorstep.
As the years passed, my late mother Galia David-Yazdi z”l began to doubt the story, after similar stories began to surface. She went on a quest to find traces of her lost brother. To her surprise, she found out that according to the population registry, the person who carried David’s ID number was still alive. Furthermore, the same person, David David, whose father was informed of his death, has recently voted in one of the elections (His ID number is 04196052-7). His address was registered in Ness Ziona, where my grandfather lived eventually, as did some of my uncles. A big, beautiful part of my childhood was in Ness Ziona.
My mother decided to turn the quest to find her missing brother into her life project – she travelled around the villages near to Ness Ziona, she turned to people who seemed to fit how she imagined her brother had grown, asked for their names, tried to find out details about him – all in vein. Her/our story appeared in the newspaper Maariv, and my mother filed a legal appeal to find out the details of his disappearance. That’s our story – whether he’s dead or alive, I have no clue. I hope I’ll know one day.
My mother passed away four years ago. A year earlier she was hospitalized in the intensive care unit, and we were called to say our good-byes. We were joyous that she survived, and returned to be cared for at home. I remember in our conversations at the time, that she told me that she regretted not commemorating her mother, who passed away on her way to Israel from Hashed. Her name was Zahra, and when I was born my father objected to naming me after her. My mother was then again at the hospital. After a few days of deliberations I knew what I had to do – I went to the Ministry of Interior and added “Zahra” to my own name. I came to her bed and showed her the name-change confirmation I received from the Ministry. She was in tears, saying that other than giving her grandchildren, this was the most beautiful thing I ever did for her. Since then I carry the name Zahra proudly, as if I was born with it, and I proudly present myself as Tal-Zahra Lavie.
For many years, my mother began to doubt the truth of the story. After many similar stories to ours began to circulate, she went to search for her lost brother. To her surprise, she found out that the child who had had the identical ID number to the one in her hand appears to be alive.
As the years passed, my late mother began to doubt the story, after similar stories began to surface. She went on a quest to find traces of her lost brother. To her surprise, she found out that according to the population registry, the person who carried David’s ID number was still alive.