Lila walked onto the crowded bus on the warm June day. She hated it - hated the long trip through the neighborhoods she used to know - but it was the best way for a lady of her years to get around. There was an empty seat, though, next to a woman in long sleeves and a wrapped and tied head scarf, reading a fantasy novel. The woman smiled at her as she sat.
Lila looked at her, and took out the book she was reading - an elderly copy of Heinrich Heine's The Rabbi, with a torn cover and pages brittle with age and acid. "I think you'll be interested in this." The woman took the book gently, clearly recognizing the author, but she said she'd never heard of the work itself.
And when Lila showed her a photocopy of the cover of *her* book, her lifeswork, the cookbook she'd edited and published and thought would be everywhere in the Jewish world, the woman recognized it, too. "I own this book!," she said, awe in her voice. No word about "Did you translate this" as so many others did. Just recognition and knowledge of who she'd redacted.
So she talked more to this woman - about how things had changed in her 73 years, how the people in her neighborhood were wearing a "costume", whereas in her day people kept their Jewishness to themselves, and people cared about how their food tasted, and how restuarants and butcher shops and food stores used to be opened by people who'd grown up in the business. How education has suffered, and how rude children are, and the woman listened and understood. She'd done this incomprehensible thing of going from a normal upbringing to becoming religious - Lila would never understand why people would do that - but she wasn't stupid. And she laughed. And she said her synagogue would be interested in what Lila had to say about her book.
Lila got off the bus a block away from the nursing home that had replaced her beloved childhood movie theater, smiling. She hated the bus, but maybe this time it wasn't so bad.
Back on the bus, the woman laughed and sighed and opened her fantasy novel, and felt a little sorry for a woman lost in time and place.