How I met a settler with one wish: a spinning key chain from Mannheim.
I am waiting for the bus in Kfar Etzion, a settlement in the West Bank, when I hear a roaring noise. Brr-Brr-Brr – an old, small tractor fights its way up the hill. A very charming one, as you can see. Its owner is the gardener of the settlement. He quizzes me, with questions, thought-up well in advance it seems. Without pauses in between: “Where are you from? What are you doing here? Where do you live? For how long? Are you alone? Do you like Israel? What do you like?” Listening to my answers he chews on a toothpick, following the horizon with his eyes. My answers seem to satisfy him. Because he changes the topic from my to his story. “What is Kfar Etzion? Do you know the people here? Do you know about its history?” Indeed, I do, I recount it to him: Set up in the 1930s, Arab troops raided the village in the Independence War 1948. All but four defenders died. Luckily, the children of the village had been evacuated before. And it was them who came back in 1967, re-establishing the village as the first settlement in the West Bank after the Six-Days-War.
“I am one of the children”, the gardener says, focusing me. “I came back in 1967.” I do not know what to answer. “But I got no time to tell you the story now, come and visit me again. But, please, bring something with you then”.
“What shall I bring?”
He makes me hopping onto his tractor. We are driving to his home, quite fast. “You must not miss your bus”, the gardener says. At his home he explains me what he wants. He collects key chains from allover the world. He got one from almost every US state, one with a gaming cube from Hong Kong, one with Tutankhamun from Egypt, he boasts. But some from Germany are missing. He needs one from Mannheim in particular – and that happens to be the city where I attended university.
“You are a lucky man”, I say, promising him to try to get a key chain from Mannheim.
“It is very important that their origin is printed on them”, he says. “And that they spin”.
// NOW I NEED YOU HELP, MONNEMER! //
I know that some of you, my readers, are living in Mannheim. Could you please get me a spinning key chain, with “Mannheim” printed on it? Of course: I will reimburse you.
Drop me a line at email@example.com and I will give you my current postal adress.
// THANK YOU //