Winter was here again! No one in my family was looking forward to the miserable season. We all knew that once the wintery season landed on our front door, it would be like that for many months to come. I watched my parents take down boxes of winter clothing from the storage room. Out came boots, scarves, muffins, mittens, heavy clothes, coats and whatever else.
I made my way to the living room and saw three of my siblings playing loudly on the sofa. They were jumping around like mad, and giggling at whatever they thought was funny. I couldn’t care less. I made my way to the windowpane, looked out and saw a dead wall. It always bothered me that the only thing I would be able to see is a wall and nothing else. Why on earth did the builders place the window there when there wouldn’t be anything to see?
Between the window pane and that massive wall was a muddy ground. Weeds have long ago sprouted there, threatening to become trees if we didn’t bother aborting their growth.
Thankfully, my family aren’t lazy people, and we often wear gardeners’ clothing and boots, walk through the narrow alleyway and end up on that muddy path to finish off the sweet baby green leaves.
There were days when I asked my parents why they didn’t have the path paved. It would save us the stress and time it takes to cut down the weeds. My parents would give me a meaningful look as a response and mumble that money doesn’t grow on trees. Ha, and I would joke, “Nu, maybe if we let those weeds grow into trees, they would grow money!”
Day after day, month after month, year after year, life was the same. Winter would come and go and come and go.
However, there was one winter I shall never forget, as long as I live.
My mother gave birth to a healthy baby girl two years ago; now we were a family of five kids. My parents made a big Kiddush in shul and named her Yocheved!
Cute name, don’t you think?
One night, over a year and some months later, at the time of the winter season (again), our family all went to bed early. The rain was coming down in buckets; torrents and gallons of rain poured endlessly. I imagined all too well about the muddy path outside. The weeds were drowning!
I heard my father sing to Yocheved who was crying out of fear of the rain. “There’s a hole in a bucket, dear o’ loiyzer…” he sang softly. He rocked the cot back and forth until Yocheved thankfully fell asleep, amidst the loud noise going on outside.
And then so did the rest of us, the noise drowning out our snores.
“Good morning!” my mother yelled excitedly. “Come out of bed and get ready for school…!”
I slowly opened my eyes to see my mother busying herself with my wardrobe. I turned my head to see Yocheved right on my bed.
“Gurgle!” she greeted me, letting a dribble drop onto my duvet.
“NO!” I cried. “Take her out!”
My mother chuckled as she took away Yocheved from my bed. I shook my head in dismay. “You woke me up!”
“Of course, honey. That was the whole point of Yocheved being there in the first place.” my mother stroked my face. “It’s cold outside but sunny. Wear something warm today.”
I yawned loudly. “Ma, did the rain finally stop?” I asked. I couldn’t be bothered to look out the window to see.
“Indeed, it stopped at three in the morning! Some floods in certain areas. Get dressed! See you in five minutes downstairs.” My mother hurriedly left the room.
I was already downstairs, munching on cereal when my mother suddenly shrieked.
I jumped straight from the chair all the way to the ceiling, landing with a thud on the kitchen floor. “What happened?” I asked as I ran to where my pale-faced mother was.
She was looking out of the familiar window. “It’s only a wall,” I said quietly.
“No darling! I am not looking at the wall! Look at the ground!” my mother pressed her nose against the window pane.
“Uh? Baby’s clothes?” I whispered. I backed away a little and so did my mother. We watched as the condensations of our nose shapes evaporated in thin air.
“Dirty and muddy!” my mother whimpered. “Yocheved! Those are Yocheved’s clothes!”
“WHAT?!” I gave a yell. “Did Yocheved jump out of the window…?”
“Impossible! She was just here a moment ago!” my mother cried. We ran ahead towards Yocheved’s room and heard gurgles and giggles. Yocheved was safe with her siblings in my parents’ room but her room was empty. The window was wide open (and don’t forget, this window also faces the dead wall. If you put your head through the window and look down, you would see a bird’s eye view of the muddy path)!
“Who did this horrible thing?!” my mother shuddered. “Did thieves come in last night?! How did the window get open?”
Nothing made sense and we both decided to investigate. It took some time to figure out, but we were pretty sure we knew what happened, we just needed my father to come home. Either he left the window open, or Yocheved did it herself.
Later that evening, my mother told me that my father had actually gone into Yocheved’s room to make sure the window was shut the night before.
That left only one conclusion. I pictured Yocheved pretending to sleep and waiting for her daddy to quietly leave the room. I pictured her smiling as she piled up some toys and stood on them to reach the handle on the window. I pictured her opening the window. Then somehow (not quite sure how) she managed to get hold of some clothes from the closet near the crib and, one by one, pull each pink dress through the bars and drop them out the window. She probably gurgled in delight as she watched her clothes become soaked in mud and rain.
I laughed at the thought but that was the only possible answer to the mysterious case.
Yocheved was a smart baby and had the gut to do the impossible!
I grabbed hold of my baby sister and gave her a good look.
“Admit it Yocheved, did you throw out the clothes?!”
My parents waited for the response. I got it.
“Gurgle!” Followed by a dribble drop on my nose.
I gave her a kiss, and placed her down.
I told my smiling parents, “Case dismissed.”