Author's note: This isn't really a book.... I just figured it was too long for the regular memoir section!
Binka's ViewLast year, I wrote an account of one of the next memories that is embedded into my memory. Not a single memory, more of a collection of memories pertaining to one person-my father’s father. I was very proud of it, but a teacher, attempting to “edit it” forced me to cut my masterpiece down to only two hundred and fifty words. I was not nearly as happy with the outcome. Later, I submitted the uncut version to Teen Ink, an online writing website and magazine for teens. It has been featured on the homepage seven times, four hundred and twelve people have read it, twenty three people have left positive comments, and forty seven people have given it a rating of five out of five stars. So there!
My grandfather, whom I called Binka, lived in an apartment in Bridgeton before he died. It was in a very quiet community, with neatly trimmed grass and white picket fences. He lived on the first of three floors because his old, weathered bones couldn’t mount the stairs any longer. Every time we visited him, his dentured-smile greeted us with pure pleasure, and his hugs enveloped me in the rich smells of aftershave and lotion. He would hold me tight, even though it hurt him to bend down to reach my level, but he loved me as much as anything.
Binka was sick for a long time. He had to go to dialysis at the hospital, and my father and I would sit in the stiff waiting room chairs and wait for him. My feet would dangle, not able to touch the floor, and when Binka come home with us, he would sit stiffer and seemed even more tired than before. When my Binka went into the hospital, my whole family was grim, waiting for a phone call, but at the same time hoping that the phone would remain permanently silent.
He came home after a while, but it didn’t last long. One day, his visiting nurse entered the apartment, calling his name, but Binka didn’t answer. He had died peacefully in his last restful sleep.
That apartment, however, was not where my fondest memories of Binka occurred. The apartment which I favored most was in Brooklyn. It probably still stands there, on the busy city street, crammed with the cacophony of sounds of the day-to-day city life. The pulsing beat of a manhole cover rattling, a stereo pounding, or a dance class thumping fill the city until it explodes in a wonderland of culture and the beauty of every color imaginable.
The memories of fun times in Binka’s apartment are innumerable. I can still recall the day that Binka, Daddy and I went down to the joint garage below his apartment. He led me, in the musty darkness of the garage, to an object covered with a plastic tarp. Uncovering it with a flourish, he revealed a shiny pink tricycle. The only thing that I had time to do before wheeling around in giddy patterns was give Binka a quick hug.
The apartment was a good size, and it had a guest bedroom that overlooked the entire city. At dusk, the city was etched into the sky as if with a whittling knife, with definite lines and strokes tracing the blackened buildings against the settling sun. But the grandest sight, by far, was the mountainous tower of the Empire State Building. I would see the twinkling lights blinking in odd, unpredictable patterns, as enchanting as the uncountable stars in the sky. At night, when the rest of the city seemed to be eaten up in the darkness of twilight, I’d gaze out of the curtained window, peering at the pinpoints of light. In December, the entire tower was lit with a warm, white glow, bathed in the loving brightness of the decorations.
When I think of my Binka, I try not to remember our last times together, when he was sick and weak. I attempt to remember the times when I got my tricycle, or when we sat at the windowsill in his apartment, three generations, Binka, Daddy and me, side-by-side, gazing out at Binka’s view.
What did you think? Perhaps, sitting there, grading this, judging this, sitting on the
edge of your seat reading this, you said aloud, “Oh, what a fantastic writer that girl is! How could that teacher have possibly asked her to edit it?” Or, perhaps you, like her, think that it was entirely too lengthy, and you agreed with her wholeheartedly that my mountainous five hundred and seventy-word essay should be trimmed, prodded, and compacted to a meager two hundred and forty seven words. Apparently the four hundred and some people who have appreciated my essay believed it to be wonderful just the way it was.