"W hen are you going to finish here?”

“At ten.” Joe pushed boxes of cookies onto the shelf and stuck price stickers on them. Cookies and more cookies and more. Then sugar wafers. And more sugar wafers.

“Look at all the junk they eat,” said his sister Bernadine, scanning the shelves critically. “So much sugar and white flour. This is the civilization you want to import back home?”

“Quit that, will you?” He’d been sitting here with his back bent for eight hours, pushing packages onto shelves, and now she had to come and hassle him about it. “Calm down, Bernadine. I’m not going to import cookies and chocolate to Papua, okay?”

“What you’re going to import is worse than cookies and chocolate.”

A customer with a loaded shopping cart passed them, brushing against Joe’s shoulder. He didn’t bother apologizing, of course.

“Hey, adoni,” Joe called after him.

“Yes?” said the customer, turning around.

“You knocked me in the shoulder.”

“Oh,” said the customer, moving on.

“It’s appalling,” said Bernadine. “We’ve been in Jerusalem for a year, and I still can’t get used to it. People here really think we’re subhuman.”

“Not all of them,” Joe objected, sticking a price on a package of buttercream cookies. “Look at our landlord, for example.”

“Itzik Rubin is different,” she acknowledged. “But you have to admit that some of these people think we’re something between humans and apes.”

“I’m really not concerned about what they think,” Joe replied, standing up straight and stretching his aching arms. “I have a dream — and my dream is bigger than all this. And as soon as I finish my studies here, I’ll leave and make it come true.”

Joe swiped his employee card and clocked out, and the siblings headed for their apartment in Mekor Baruch. “I have a class at eight a.m. tomorrow,” he said, shoulders sagging. “Agricultural Biotechnology.”

“I have a class on Medical Devices at seven thirty,” she one-upped him. “And I wish someone would make mumu for me right now.”

“I wouldn’t mind a dish of mumu myself,” said her brother. “Hey, let’s dig a pit in the front yard.”

“Sure, and we’ll line it with banana leaves that we don’t have, and we’ll make a bonfire to heat up some stones… and all the neighbors will come to see what those kushim are burning in the yard.”

“And then we’ll put the hot stones in the pit, and three taro roots and a little meat on top of the stones,” he went on. “Oops, but they don’t have taro here.”

“We could use sweet potatoes instead. Pretty similar.”

“So we’ll put in three sweet potatoes,” Joe agreed. “And we’ll close the pit and cover it, and sit for an hour and a half waiting until the mumu is ready.”

“We’ll sit by the bonfire and wait, and Grandma Gillette, who isn’t here, will tell us about the Great Crocodile Spirit.”

“And Grandpa Cargo will tell about the day the dead returned from the Darkness.”

“And then we’ll open the pit,” said Bernadine with a glint in her eyes, “and we’ll take out the meat and taro — I mean the sweet potatoes — and we’ll eat mumu and feel like we’re back home.”

But their village in Papua New Guinea, Yango Bay, was thousands of miles away, and there was no way they could dig pits or light bonfires in the courtyard of their building on Rechov Rashi. “Maybe we’ll take a trip outside Jerusalem sometime,” Joe suggested. “We’ll invite a few friends, and dig a pit, and make a mumu like you never tasted even in Yango Bay.”

“But you don’t have banana leaves.”

“You see plenty of bananas here in the shuk, right? So there must be banana leaves. We just have to find them. You know what?” His shoulders straightened. “On Sundays we’re doing practicals out on a farm. I’ll ask my supervisor where there’s a banana orchard, and I’ll go there and get some leaves.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 668)