A few years ago my mother presented me a file of yellow documents she found. They were my grandfathers’ Issac Kipnis.
We lived in a small village and shared a large yard with orange and pecan trees. As an architect he planned both houses in a Bauhaus style. His office had a separate entrance, and I used to skip the three stairs and visit him. He let me sharpen pencils, and brush off eraser crumbs. Sometimes I would join him on the balcony watching how he unfolds a wooden long box and pulls fresh pink ammonia scented blueprints of villa plans. He smoked a pipe and cigars, and had a loud voice.
One afternoon, as a new baby- pink- plan was born out of the long wooden box, he pointed at the shadow of the house on the ground, and said sharply that shadow will always reverse the side of the sun: “Look for yourself and see!”
A law of the universe was unveiled. I consider it my first drawing lesson. I was eight.
He told me stories about the time he lived in Alexandria. He spoke longingly about a synagogue he planned. He mentioned how extremely interesting that city was; the artists who lived there, the different languages and music in the air. He could speak Arabic, French, English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. His life and work in Egypt was mixed in my mind with the Pharos and building of the pyramids.
Years later in my mothers’ kitchen, I am leafing through the old documents; it is all here; A synagogue, a church, a swimming pool, villas and more. I am astonished to see his round face looking back at me from ancient eras. The triangle of the pyramid behind resonates with the triangular shadow of horses, men and donkeys. It must be noon time.