Magazine, July/August 2010

Excerpts from a Diary

by Josh Kornbluth

March 28, 1964: Father has been acting quite secretive this week—I think he's obsessed with hiding the afikomen so I can't find it this time. Last year he seemed disappointed that I found it so quickly—also, that I wasn't so thrilled with my present, a simple yo-yo that I felt unsuitable for a sophisticated five-year-old such as myself.

March 29, 1964: Afikomen still not found! I have been over every square inch of our apartment. Father looking smug; Mother worried that I haven't slept. Where did he hide it? And why make this so difficult? Perhaps he's sprung for a really fancy present this year, and wants me to truly earn it? Ah—I think I know where it may be: in his wallet!

March 30, 1964: No afikomen in Father's wallet—but did find a scrap of paper with a phone number. A lead!?

March 31, 1964: The woman who answered the phone at that number claimed to have no insight into the location of the afikomen, but she sounded nervous.

April 1, 1964: At dinner last night, I asked Father about the woman at that phone number. He acted evasive and refused to answer. Mother seemed upset. I worry that this afikomen situation is creating tension in their marriage.

May 26, 1964: Father still has not returned from his latest business trip. Mother won't tell me why, and spends much of her time crying in the bedroom. Looking back on my own actions, I fear that I may have overreacted last year in expressing my disappointment about the yo-yo. This, in turn, might have motivated Father to make this year's present so extravagant that it threw the household finances into chaos—thus the need for him to extend the business trip. In the meantime, I have expanded my afikomen search to our entire building.

June 11, 1964: It has been a week now since I ran away from home. A rabbi on my boxcar told me that the deadline for finding the afikomen is actually midnight on the day of the Seder—which, if true, would render moot my entire quest. I suspect, however, that this "rabbi" may really be just a hobo with a big beard.

February 6, 1987: After all these years of crisscrossing the fifty states, I have met many fascinating people—not the least of whom, of course, is my lovely wife, Lucille. It was with a tear in my eye that I left her the note this morning explaining that, if I am to be any kind of father to our little Mickey and Stella, I must finally solve this mystery that has been haunting me for so long. My current thinking is to start at the South Pole and work my way north.

May 11, 2010: My Norwegian neighbors alerted me to the presence of a "suspicious" man who had been lurking nearby, just across the fjord. Turns out he's a private investigator hired by my parents to track me down. Father is gravely ill, has returned to live with Mother in his final days, and now wishes to set eyes on me again before he dies. My fifth wife, Lisbet, urges me to go—as my obvious distress at this turn of events, exacerbated by my lifelong failure to find the afikomen, can only continue to upset little Knut and Kamilla.

June 1, 2010: How bittersweet life can be! I ran into my childhood apartment, hugged Mother, and rushed over to Father's bedside. As he drew his final breaths, he seemed incapable of speech—but with his watery eyes conveyed great emotion as I kept asking him, "Where did you put it, Papa? Where?" He just shook his head, over and over—until his eyelids fluttered and then closed forever. Eventually rigor mortis set in, and I heard a crunching sound. After some strenuous prying, I found matzah crumbs in his right hand; in his left hand, a yo-yo.

Josh Kornbluth is a monologuist who lives in Berkeley with his wife and son and their cornsnake, Snakey. His latest solo show is Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews? You can follow his doings at JoshKornbluth.com.

Kornbluth, Josh. 2010. Excerpts from a Diary. Tikkun 25(4): 80

tags: Humor, Passover, Poetry & Fiction  
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