Soon after my father passed away in 1995 at age 86, my mother presented me with his watch, enclosed in its red case adorned with gold letters. The 18-karat gold Patek Philippe was the only expensive thing my father ever bought for himself. We were very poor when I was young. We shared, with another family, a small, one-bedroom apartment in a poor Haifa neighborhood, living off rationed eggs and butter. By the time I reached the age of 13, however, our financial condition had improved. Although by nature modest and humble, my father surprised us by buying himself the gold watch. “After 120,” he would proudly tell me, “this watch will be yours.”
Gingerly opening the case in 1995, I was astounded to find in addition to the watch, hidden underneath, in the folds of the guarantee booklet: a minute, yellowing photograph of two beautiful young women. I did not recognize this photo or these young ladies. My mother was taken aback by this find but did not offer any explanations. I knew my father wanted me to find this photo. I could not fathom why.