Art in the Dark

The memories of my parent’s faces are starting to fade away. I can still remember things we did together and almost every little thing about them but the images of their faces in my head are getting fuzzy. My Bubbe, Rina and my Saba, Kuni are good to me, but trust me too much and are too old to understand me.

* * *

            The Russian language is not the most pleasant thing to hear all the time: everyone speaks loudly, almost angrily. Of course, that is not the reason we decided to leave Russia. I had just turned 18 five days ago on the 28th of December, 1891. Some big news reached our little town of Volozhin that day —  Ellis Island of New York in America had just become the new reception center for immigrants from all over the world. When my grandparents and I heard the news, we had to think hard about what we would do next

            Many of my friends had left, immigrating to America to have a better future and get good jobs. Before the accident, I hated leaving home to do anything besides school. Something snapped inside of me after the fact, and I couldn’t get enough nature, fresh air, and exploring new places. My Bubbe (Grandmother), Saba (Grandfather), and I were on the fence about whether or not we should go to America. We were leaning towards not going until the Volozhyn Yeshiva, close to my house and my college of choice, closed permanently.

* * *

            My first impression of the famed New York City was that it was obnoxiously loud, smelled dirty, and was extremely busy. The ride on the ship seemed to last forever and Bubbe was very seasick during the ride. After braving the waves of the ocean, my grandparents and I relied on each other to navigate the waves of people in the city. They used their eyes to find directions and I spoke to the “natives” because I spoke English decently well. We found the apartment we wanted to rent; one bedroom and one bathroom. I slept on the rock-hard couch in the poor excuse for a living room. Ilia slept on some moderately thick blankets on the floor. The next day we all set out to look for jobs. New Yorkers aren’t nice to blind people.

* * *

            I didn’t get to see my Dad a lot because he was always at work. To my 14-year-old mind, he was a super hero. Mama always rambled about how good of a husband and a father he was.

“Jonas,” my father began, “Would you like some steak today?” A a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a

“Yes?” I answered tentatively. I was dubious for two reasons: For one, we barely ever ate steak at our house, and two, I didn’t know if my dad had any idea about how to cook. He set to work, and to my surprise he seemed to know what he was doing. A a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a

“Well at least you didn’t burn the house down,” I jested as we enjoyed the steak together.

* * *

            When I woke up, darkness slammed into me and I clawed at my eyes to take away whatever was covering them, only to find nothing was there. Nothing was anywhere now that I thought about it. I heard a voice calling my name.

“Jonas?” I recognized the shaky, tentative voice to be my Saba, Kuni.

“Is that you, Saba? I can hear you but I can’t see anything.”

* * *

“Jonas, why are you always coughing? Are you sick?” Bubbe always worried about me but I was usually always ok.

“I’m ok Bubbe. I’m not sick.” Well I’m not lying…

            My grandparents had been kind enough to let me bring my best buddy, Ilia, to New York. Ilia was a year older than me, but his spindly frame and minuscule stature would never make you think that. Of course, I only knew he was spindly because of his habits of barely eating, prompting Bubbe to always scold him and serve him more food. Ilia didn’t really want food as much as he wanted drugs.

            It was January 17, and I still hadn’t found a job. Trying to ask Ilia what places he saw and him trying to explain them to me without knowing English was not an effective way of searching for a job. Then one day when we were walking along New York’s busy streets, Ilia spotted something.

“Jonas,” Ilia seemed excited, “Jonas, it’s a Louis Vuitton store!”

“Really?” I tried to contain my excitement but I’m sure Ilia saw right through my feigned nonchalant attitude.

            Before the accident, I was always fascinated by designer clothing and I had a very expensive taste when it came to clothing items. Of course, this went against my parents’ Jewish beliefs that it is sinful to show off. I had to beg my parents for the longest time to get me anything related to the fashionable clothes that were popular those days. I would always look at the windows of stores we would pass by because my parents wouldn’t let me go inside. It may seem odd that a kid who was barely a teenager could be so into fashion, but that was just me. I couldn’t wait to get older so I could work and buy my own clothes with my money.

            So when Ilia told me he had seen a Louis Vuitton store, I was overjoyed at the opportunity of maybe working there and designing my own clothes. Ilia and I walked in to find a man working on some suitcases. He had little sign on his desk that Ilia told me read ‘Mr. Vuitton’. The Mr. Vuitton? That can’t be possible. Thoughts rushed through my head concerning what I could possibly say to this man.

“M… m… Mr. Vuitton?” I couldn’t believe how nervous I was.

“Yes?” I could tell immediately the voice was of a man too young to be the Louis Vuitton.

            It turns out that the man was actually Louis Vuitton’s son and that he had just arrived in America a month ago from France. Ilia helped me and we tried to explain how I loved fashion and I would love to work at his shop. His English was rough, and sometimes it was difficult to talk to him, but I could clearly understand one thing he said: “You’re hired.”

            He told me I could start the next day so I got up super early, dragged Ilia out of bed, and set out to my first job ever, doing something I loved. Ilia and I walked along the New York streets and he described the skyscrapers and how tall they were to me. We walked over a bridge and I could hear the water below. Then a loud commotion interrupted the sound of the water and I could hear some yelling not too far away.

“He’s over there!”

“I’m gonna get him!”

            It took Ilia a while to react but I could tell the voices were aiming at us. I grabbed Ilia to get his attention.

“Who are those guys, Ilia?” I suspected they had something to do with his drug problem.

“Let’s just say I owe them money,” he said in a resigned voice.

            I heard heavy footsteps barreling towards me, a stampede of angry feet. Ilia and I were paralyzed, our feet stuck to the ground. The footsteps got closer and I clenched my whole body, bracing for impact. Rough hands dug into my skin and while I expected to be hit or shot, to my surprise, my whole body was lifted into the air. Then I realized I was on a bridge. Despite my struggling and squirming, I was hoisted over the side of the bridge and tossed into the water. While falling for what seemed to be ages, I got to think.

            I thought about how I regretted not being a better son to my parents, and being a bad grandson to Saba and Kuni. I regretted abandoning my faith because I blamed God for the death of my parents. My body felt weightless and as I fell, I felt like even though I was blind, I could see my life better now.

            Works Cited

Powell, John. The 19Th Century. 4th ed., Pasadena, California, Salem Press, 2018,. Print.

“Presidential Election Of 1892.” 270Towin.Com, 2018, Web.


“Historical Events in 1892.”, 2/10/18. Web.

Rachel Feman. “Popular Jewish Hebrew Names.”, 2/7/18. Web.