The arendt files, p.19
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       The Arendt Files, p.19

           Ivan Rosemblatt
 
“How long have I been out here waiting; two, three hours?” Robeson shielded his eyes from the afternoon sun with his both hands, his sight wasn't what it used to be. He had been squinting, scanning the horizon obsessively from the moment their agreed upon hour had passed. “Don't be anxious Paul. When have you had this kind of time to yourself? Two years perhaps?” He worked all day, every day, slept four hours at most. Each morning he woke with a jolt, a rush of memory, a onslaught of tasks and responsibilities.

  “This is what I lack, time for reflexion. I should think of something worthwhile instead of worry” He clasped his hands behind his back and returned to pacing. “We are free for now, but vulnerable”. It was a question that had been haunting him for years. Should they split up or stay together? Although he knew that by keeping them in one place he was risking total annihilation. But where could they run to or hide? Wasn’t that the very nature of blackness, to be both invisible and revealed? Defeat meant annihilation or slavery. It was all so desperate.

  He always returned to the same point, a single thought tha reaffirmed his choice. “They always worked to defeat us by seperating us. Pitting us against one another. No, from here on out we stick together, as much as we can.” He often wondered if they would have been able to accomplish the things they had without the terrible events that had brought them there. It was a terrible question because he already knew the answer. Of course not. Though one was reticent to ascribe a single positive note to the result of the enemies actions he couldn't help but feel an immense sense of pride in the changes they had made. When they arrived the majority of people were illiterate. Now, eight years later, 99% of adults could read.

  Maybe it was hubris and but he was convinced he led the best army world had ever seen. From the beginning the women had demanded to become soldiers, now everyone was taught all aspects of military craft, from drill to strategy to battlefield command. He was so confident he would have put his people up against the Spartans without hesitation. They practiced hand to hand combat incessantly. The funny thing about it was that it made them happy. His mind drifted back to his day performing Shakespeare in England, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.” It sounded trite and hackneyed until you were in it, right in the middle of it.

  His reverie was broken by a distant hum in the dessert silence. The sound became more distinct and he was able to make out the plane approaching in the distance. Five minutes later the single engine plane set down gently onto the earth. He remembered how bright Arendt had been, and he wondered whether he would be her equal. Well, he wasn't her equal, she was in charge. He just hope he would make a good showing. There was so much at stake. She looked the same only older perhaps. A very sensible blazer and skirt, glasses with thick black rims.

  He wasn't expecting her to step out of the pilots side.“Hannah, I had no idea you could fly.”

  “Old Jewish ladies aren't supposed to fly?”

  “How did you find the time to learn?”

  “It's a hobby. A childhood dream. I found the time, what can I tell you.”

  “I'm sorry. I started out with trivialities. It is so good to see you.”

  “Wonderful to see you as well. Paul, this is my assistant ________”

  “Pleased to meet you young man.”

  “The pleasure is all mine Mr. Robeson.” They shook hands.

  “My parents saw you perform Othello in London. They would just go on and on about it.”

  “Well, not all of the critics were so gracious in their appraisal.”

  “What do critics know?”

  “More than artists like to admit.”

  “Paul, he has some important papers and our things. Could someone help him?” Robeson lifted his hand up and his voice boomed out like a foghorn. “Oliver!” Hannah and _____ shared a meaningful glance, both impressed by the power of the voice, it had physically jolted both of them. One of the young men who had been waiting at a distance ran over.

  “Yes Mr. Robeson?”

  “Oliver would you please help this young man with his papers and supplies.” The two men started to unload the airplane as Arendt and Robeson walked away, both with arms folded behind their backs. They walked in silence for a bit. Arendt spoke first. “This is the proper posture for dignitaries, correct? Hands behind the back.”

  “I will tell the photographers to only snap pictures when we are both posed thus,”

  She looked around. “Barren but beautiful. I like it here. I like the air. Where are we headed Paul?

  “Oh, the encampment is a few miles up this path. We've prepared some refreshments.”

  “I hate to be a bother but I should let you know that I am perhaps good for two miles.” She said this as she patten her jacket pockets and found her cigarettes, pulled one out and lit it.

  “Really? Hannahh, you shouldn't smoke. You have to take better care of yourself.”

  “Thank you for the reminder Robert. You can join the chorus. For god sake, this is why I never wanted to join any movement, or take any kind political role. You lose all sense of privacy. Everything is up for discussion. That young man over there never let's up. He won't let me enjoy these things even for a second”

  “I aplologize. I didn't mean to pontificate.”

  Hannahh shook her hand in the air. “No, no, I apologize. It's not you, its everyone else. I appreciate your concern. I get irritable, it was a long flight. Of course you are right. An old woman doesn't like to realize how bad it is. I used to walk for hours in Paris. It helped me think. I would get back home and write. Think and write.”

  “You aren't that old, Hannahh.”

  “I know. I use it as an excuse. I need to exercise more, but I spend weeks on end in hiding, never leaving a room. I should do some calisthenics but it just strikes me as banal. I always liked to walk.”

  Robeson waved over one of his men who were trailing a hundred feet behind them to provide privacy. The tall youth ran over. “Yes Paul.”

  “Michael, go on up ahead. Have folks bring the refreshments this way and set up the chairs and tables about a half mile up ahead.”

  Michael nodded, “Half a mile?” Robeson turned to Arendt. “You can make it half a mile right?”

  She nodded. “Yes, half a mile of course. I'm not crippled for gods sake just out of shape and a bit old.”. “Have them rig up some sort of palanquin, and bring a good group of men to help. We are going to need to help our guest make it to camp. The trip has been taxing.”

  “Yes Paul. Right away.”

  “This is very embarrassing Paul. I going to be like some ridiculous white woman on safari in Africa being carried by the 'blacks'. This is not what I had in mind at all. I had hoped that being out here, away from the United States, your group wouldn't have to participate in that kind of theater of servility.”

  “Nonsense. You are our guest and the terrain is uneven. It might look like that to outside eyes, but that would only be appearances, this is more like family. In any case. Let's not worry about it. It is very good to see you Hannahh.” He turned and took both her hands in his, smiled broadly and began to laugh. “It is wonderful to you as well Paul.” She leaned in and kissed each other on both cheeks.

  “I miss European sensibilities. It was in my travels to Europe where I first felt what it was like to be treated as just a person, not as a black man.”

  “Paris?”

  “Yes of course.”

  “The equality of man, Rousseau.”

  “Yes.”

  “What was it Epicurious said about friendship?”

  “I have no idea. Something very smart I am sure.”

  “”Of all things which wisdom provides to make us happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship.' That is what he said.”

  “Yes that is it.” Robeson hooked his arm into hers to give her support as she walked.

  “Walking next to you is like being next to a giant, I feel very small.”

  “Tha
t's how I feel on a mental level with you, small.”

  “Pfah, nonsense. You are brilliant, and an artist. What I would give to have a creative bone in my body.”

  “You are creative at war Hannahh.”

  “Thinking and writing as I said, that was the only life I was made for.”

  “Now you are a general.”

  “A general without battles.”

  “The first real battle is close. How long until we launch do you think?”

  “Within three months, I would say. If all goes relatively as planned.”

  Chapter 20

 
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