Onafhankelijk van geboortedata
De Amerikaanse schrijfster Deborah Feldman werd geboren in 1986 in de chassidische gemeenschap van Satmar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. Haar huwelijk werd gearrangeerd toen zij 17 jaar oud was, en haar zoon werd twee jaar later geboren. Op 25-jarige leeftijd publiceerde ze de New York Times bestseller memoires, “UNORTHODOX: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots” en twee jaar later volgde “EXODUS a memoir of post-religious alienation and identity.” Tegenwoordig werkt zij in twee media, film en schrijven. Ze is het meest geïnteresseerd in het verkennen van de kruising tussen globalisering, religie, en de vrouwelijke identiteit. Haar werk is vertaald in het Hebreeuws en het Duits. Sinds eind 2014 woont zij met haar zoon in Berlijn.
“There she is, just across the street, sulking on the stoop. Seven years old, skin pale almost to the point of translucence, lips pursed into a sullen pout. She stares gloomily at the silver Mary Janes on her feet, the tips of which catch the last rays of sunlight quickly fading behind the three-story brownstone.
She has been scrubbed and primped in preparation for Passover, soon to arrive. Her hair hurts where it’s been pulled too tight into a bun at the top of her head. She feels each strand stretching from its inflamed follicle, especially at the nape of her neck, where an early-spring breeze raises goose bumps on the exposed skin. Her hands are folded into the lap of her brand-new purple dress, with peonies and violets splashed wildly on the fabric, smocking at the chest, and a sash tied around the waist. There are new white tights stretched over her thin legs.
This little side street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, usually bustling with black-clad men carrying prayer books, is momentarily silent and empty, its residents indoors making preparations for the evening. The little girl has managed to sneak away in the rush, to sit alone across from the young pear tree the neighbors planted a few years ago after carving out a square of beige dirt in the stretch of lifeless asphalt. Now it f lowers gently, bulbous white blossoms dangling precariously from its boughs.
I cross the street toward her. No cars come. The silence is magnificent, enormous. She doesn’t seem to notice me approaching, nor does she look up when I sit down next to her on the stoop. I look at her face and know instantly, with the pain of a punch to the gut, exactly how long it’s been since there was a smile on it.
I put my arm around her shoulder, ever so gently, as if she might break from the weight, and I whisper into her ear, “Everything is going to be fine.”
She turns and looks at me for the first time, her face a mask of distrust.
“It’s going to be just fine. I promise.”
Snap. The hypnotherapist wakes me by clicking her fingers together in a classic stage move.
“You did good,” she says. “Go home and try to have sex tonight. Let me know what happens. I have a feeling we’ve fixed the problem. Not completely, but enough for now.”
Deborah Feldman (New York, 1986)