Chapa once had a different name, sometime, before he was torn from the earth.
That is, a name of the kind registered in the Ministry of the Interior, on identity cards. A name for passports and police registration. He did not mind revealing it to us. He had long since detached himself from it, and he had nothing emotional about that name. I think he would not have cared either if I had revealed to you, here, the same official name, which is still in his pocket in some tattered ID card. Sometimes you have to pay salaries to those in charge of the aisles, letters and numbers are a very fat bribe to the establishment, which eats and swallows them deep in its cellars, computerized today, manualized in the past. The same past where Chapa never thought that one day he would be able to part with his name. He was his whole identity, everything he was, he hung on to that name. he did not believe there were sides in him that were outside the boundaries of the name.
"Now I'm an unnamed man," Chapa told us, "try me and see."
Without a name you are fluid and reach everywhere, without a name you can have a thousand names, hold on to them and let go of them as you wish. You are not accountable, and they cannot lay hands on you, those whose essence of life is to lay hands on others and imprison them, as compensation for being imprisoned themselves. For each of us they did it from childhood, Chapa said. Get us used to identifying with our name, to answering even before we are called by it. Thus we cut off what was left of the remnants of the ancient bee wings with which man was ever born. Chapa told us about the ceremony in which he burned his name. Somewhere in space, with his alien friends, some of whom, in their worlds, had similar and even more complicated problems, and some stood aside and laughed at it all.It seems to us quite atracting, this idea. We flowed with his words until we reached one large and abandoned courtyard that was in the area, surrounded by eucalyptus trees. Chapa gave each of us an eucalyptus bark. Each one engraved on his shell his name, surname, and his identity card number, the ones they already had. We then collected some dried leaves and branches from this yard, and Chapa lit a fire.
"If you will, now it will be a ceremony of parting from your name. Or rather, your first ceremony of acquaintance with your true self, which will begin as soon as the shells of your old name are thrown into this fire. But I must warn you. This acquaintance can be very frightening.
Do not rush. We still have the whole young evening. Think about it well," said Chapa.
We sat like that for an hour around the fire, laughing, joking around. Zvi even offered to bring a finjan from his house, the nearest house there, and make coffee. Chapa suggested that we drink the coffee after. Then we were silent, or rather, each one was isolated with his own eucalyptus shell, and began to be uncomfortable in the air, until Chapa said, "Well. So you give me the shells now?"
He knew we were not about to give it to him. We were not ready yet.
It was already dark.
We took each one his shell, and without saying a word we left the yard.