"I t’s so quiet here. What’s going on?”

“The groups all went to Caesarea today, didn’t you hear?” replied Bernadine. “There’s this tour of companies that make the latest medical equipment.”

“That’s why we have a free period, because some of the lecturers aren’t here,” added Banu, a dark-skinned giant of a woman from Chad.

“Is the tour only for the Israeli girls? Why weren’t we invited?” asked Reet, a short Cambodian woman.

“Because there’s nothing there for us to see,” laughed Banu. “Where we’ll be working, we can only hope there’ll be sterile needles. What’s the use of touring a biotech company?”

“That’s not true,” said Bernadine. “And I wish we’d insisted that they take us, too. There’s no reason why it should only be for Israelis.”

“But we’re not going to have equipment like that when we go home!” her classmates exclaimed almost in unison.

“You mean our home countries don’t have equipment like that now,” Bernadine corrected them. “My brother Joe calls that a defeatist attitude. We need a tour like that even more than the Israelis. We need to see the most advanced ultrasound devices and the latest defibrillators, so we’ll have the ambition to get that kind of equipment for our own countries.”

“Ha!” Banu’s laughter was contagious. “Bernadine, you know that after I finish my studies here, I’ll be going back to work in villages without electricity or running water, right?”

“Yeah. So will I.”

“So what are we going to do with a 3-D ultrasound imaging machine, if we’re working in a thatched-roof clinic without electricity?”

“My brother would say, ‘We’ll get electricity installed,’ and he’d start doing whatever had to be done to make that happen.”

“He sounds like a young man with great ambitions.” Banu and Reet laughed, but Bernadine didn’t.

“He is,” she answered. “And he knows not only how to dream, but how to achieve. It’s thanks to my brother that I’m here, actually.”

Bernadine got up and found an empty classroom to sit in. The memories were too painful. The evening after Amber’s funeral, Joe had come into the hut smiling. He was sure Bernadine would be happy to be rid of Amber. But how could she be happy after what happened to her that day?

She’d come to Amber’s funeral with all his female relatives. She couldn’t make up her mind how she felt. On the one hand, she hadn’t wanted him. On the other hand, she’d already begun getting used to the idea that he would be her husband. And after all, Mother wasn’t completely wrong; a strong husband could be a blessing.

Amber’s parents were busy chanting a funeral dirge over their son’s pine coffin, but his aunts were looking at her darkly.

“She’s bewitched,” one of them hissed through clenched teeth.

Bernadine stared at her in surprise.

“Amber was an excellent swimmer,” said the woman. “It wasn’t the first time he did that trick with the turtles. He could dance on the canoe with anything in his hands, and never lose his balance.”

“I know,” said Bernadine.

“He had luck,” another aunt said quietly. “He always had good luck. Until he got engaged to you.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 674)