Lunch at the Taj Mahal
Esther and Ezra had a standing date once each month.
They ate lunch at the Taj Mahal in the East
Village, Esther’s favorite restaurant. She invariably ordered lamb. She was
a creature of habit. The Taj Mahal was a cellar
restaurant that one entered by walking down a flight of
stairs. Below the city, the air was still. Occasionally, the
sound of a fire truck siren burst onto the stone
walls echoing through the dining room. Today Ezra comments on
the murals, “Good old FDR and the WPA.” Esther smiles.
The enchantment of the images in the dim light bewilders.
Daniel Dehpour Makes a Promise to his Daughter, Esther
All her life Esther remembered an afternoon from her childhood.
She was waiting for her father, the person she loved
most in the world. When he arrived she rushed into
the warmth of his arms. Esther delighted in her father’s
laughter and tenderness, and his stories of exotic travel, of
trekking through India, of the beauty of the Taj Mahal.
One day, he promised, he would take her there and
they would see it together. Her father never kept his
promise, but Esther treasured the memory of it for the
rest of her life. It was imprinted in her brain.
Paraphrases from the PBS Series American Experience: Eleanor Roosevelt.
A Tunnel Near the Front
The air is still. Here, in the tunnels, it’s quiet.
Occasionally, the sound of a water droplet bursting feebly onto
stone echoes through the chamber. Somewhere, somehow, moisture is getting
in. But for the most part, it’s dry. We are
safe, underground, in the comforting darkness. We are perfectly safe
here and can sleep as securely as if we were
in a palace. Small arms fire continues outside. We light
a simple candle. Murals of great age are found on
the walls. The enchantment of the images in the dim
light bewilders. The dull sound of distant explosions is unrelenting.
Paraphrases from the article “The Lost Tunnels Buried Deep beneath the UK” by Chris Baraniuk and The Outhouse War and Other Kibbutz Stories by Shimon Camiel.