Lilith Gervasi does not sleep nights anymore, not even now, a full year
after the War. Instead she stays wide awake, watching the coast with her
war surplus Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle for Nazis who would never come.
She suffers terribly from something 21st Century doctors would call Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder.
One instant Lilith is scanning the beach in front of St. Catherine’s light-
house on the Isle of Wight. The next instant a woman appears.
The manner of the woman’s sudden appearance is entirely out of the ordi-
nary, Lilith thinks. Then again, so is standing watch all night every
night.Lilith realizes it is entirely possible she is not sane.
The female is not a Nazi, but Lilith isn’t taking chances, not after what
she has suffered. She fires a round into the air from fifty yards to get
the lady’s attention and advances closer.Lilith sees that the strange
woman has white hair, but despite that she looked to be rather young, and
is perhaps only thirty years of age.
The woman watches Lilith draw near with the rifle but she cannot put her
hands over her head because she is nursing a baby.When they are close
enough together that they can comfortably speak the woman says, “Please
don’t shoot again. As you can see I have a baby.”
“Who are you?” Lilith demands. “You don’t sound remotely English.”
“My name is Haziel,”sha says.”And you are correct, I am not from your
country at all.I am from somewhere very far away.”
Lilith’s rifle drops a bit from its sight-line on Haziel’s head. It is now
aimed at har heart. Lilith says, “So what are you doing here?And how did
you get here?”
“I am here to meet someone,”Haziel says.”As for how I arrived, I can ex-
plain it to you, but you would think me to be entirely balmy, rather than
Lilith lowers the rifle to point at the ground between them, and there is
even the faintest glimmer of a smile. “Why did you bring a baby?”
“This is my beloved newborn daughter Del,”Haziel says.”I’m so madly in love
with her I never let her out of my sight.”
That is quite enough. Lilith unchambers the round and slings her rifle over
It is pre-dawn, and in the gloomy light that is beginning to gather Haziel
can take a better look at Lilith. The girl has just reached adulthood, but
there is also an aged look in her hollow eyes, as though she has already
lived four lifetimes, and it haunts Haziel. A kind of Darwinian process in
the camps has produced a girl who is able to outwit, bribe, or intimidate
anyone to get what she needs to survive. Haziel sees the results right on
Lilith’s surface.Sha asks, “Do you live here, at the lighthouse?”
Lilith nods.The work camps had emaciated her body, and when she returned
home to the Isle of Wight and was fed by her father, the weight came back
in the form of strong, wiry muscles. She is eighteen but looks twice that.
“My father is here, she says. “He operates the lighthouse and runs a weath-
“I should like to meet him,”Haziel says.
Lilith spits at the ground. “He has sold his life to the Goy and betrayed
the promise of God that our people should rule Palestine.”
“When you say your nation,”Haziel says,”I know you are not speaking of Eng-
land, Lilith Gervasi.You are a member of a people whose very right to exist
is always being questioned.”
Lilith’s eyes narrow at Haziel.”How do you know my name?”
“I know many things about you.I know that your father was used by the gov-
ernment to help deceive Hitler as to exactly where the invasion was going
to take place.I know you and your mother were taken to camps on the Conti-
nent by German frogmen.I know they tattooed a number on your arm and I know
that you have come through such suffering and human degradation and evil
that few could ever begin to understand the mere periphery of it, let alone
sympathize with the core of your ordeal and your memories of it.”
Lilith shows Haziel the six numbers tattooed to her arm by the SS to affirm
har assessment is correct.She says, “The Crown owes a very large marker to
my father, but he will not cash it in to obtain a thing, a concession of
such little import it could not possibly disconcert the government in the
smallest way. The Foreign Secretary refuses to allow Jews to immigrate to
the British Mandate in Palestine. Not even Jews who are already British
One word, but it explains everything. The Middle-East is awash in petrole-
um, but if the Arabs suspect the Jews will have an independent state there
they will attack the wells owned and operated by the British. So the Bal-
four Declaration and the Churchill White Paper were torn up for the worth-
less pieces of paper they always were, and all bets are now off in the Holy
Land.Lilith says, “The admiral who deceived my father is dead. My father is
willing to let the whole matter go.”
Little Del starts to cry. It is cold, dawn is just breaking, and che wants
hez mother to take hem back to a place that was warm so che can go back to
sleep. Haziel says, “You saw the manner of my coming, and your eyes were
not deceiving you.What would you do if I said I could take you to Palestine
in the blink of an eye?”
Lilith does not hesitate at all. She goes into the grounds of the light-
house complex and returns ten minutes later carrying a small tote bag with
clothing and her personal effects. She also carries her rifle, but now she
also had several boxes of .303 caliber cartridges carried on little straps.
But she has not taken the time to wake her father and notify him that she
is leaving, and Haziel knows that as matters stand the girl might never be
persuaded to speak to him.
Haziel also notes, with some satisfaction, that Lilith carries in one hand
a quantity of unleavened bread.That is the essence of the feast of Pass-
over, to re-affirm the willingness of the children of Israel to respond
without delay to the command of their God to depart a place. Deep down Li-
lith might have a small spark of recognition as to who Haziel really is.
Haziel asks Lilith to hold Del for a short time, which forces the girl to
leave her rifle and other belongings on the ground.Holding the infant dis-
tracts Lilith from the instantaneous transition. The crack of dawn in Eng-
land changes to mid-morning in Israel, for they have moved east toward the
rising sun. Lilith sees the light has shifted, and the terrain has changed
as well.The beach is gone, replaced by desert. Astonished, Lilith almost
drops Del, but just manages to hang on to the child. Her eyes lift to meet
those of Haziel.”Who are you really?”
“If I told you the truth, like I said before, you would think me a nutter,
and blasphemous to boot.But hopefully, Lilith, at the very least I will be
your lifetime friend. There may come a time when I will ask much more.”
Holding Del in her arms and listening to Haziel’s words has an effect that
Lilith would never be able put into words.After a few wordless moments, as
her body shakes with dry weeping, Lilith returns the child to Haziel.
After that she is whisked away by a number of Jewish farmers who live a few
miles inland from the Mediterranean, at a kibbutz founded by Polish immi-
grants in 1943 named Yad Mordechai. The settlement lies on the coast high-
way only eight miles north of the city of Gaza and in later years would lie
only two and a half miles outside of the border of the Gaza Strip.
Lilith speaks no Polish, nor at that point has she learned Hebrew (which
has already been revived from extinction to become the official tongue of
Eretz Yisrael). But all she needs to do was brandish the tattoo on her
forearm, and it is enough for the pioneers.They are already well acquainted
with Haziel and on good terms with har, but they refuse to reveal anything
about her to Lilith when she begins to ask many questions. And in the weeks
and months that follow, Lilith begins to suspect she had been taken to her
new home by an angel of God. That first morning begins to seem like a
dream. But much fighting lies ahead, and that would much more like a night-
As a consequence of the victory over the Ottoman Turks in the First World
War, Great Britain became the master of the whole Middle-East. In the clos-
ing days of the War the British Foreign Secretary. A.J. Balfour, declared
that”His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Pales-
tine of a National Home for the Jewish People, and will use their best en-
deavours to facilitate the achievment of this object.”
In 1922 the Churchill White Paper put forth the premise that Jewish immi-
gration to Palestine could continue until such a time as there was a Jewish
majority there. But by 1939 Britain bowed to threats to British oil extrac-
tion infrastructure from Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen and
reversed this position.This reversal hit at precisely the same time that
Jews were being exterminated throughout the growing Third Reich.
After the War, Polish Jews refused to be repatriated to their homes in Eu-
rope. Physical attacks on them continued, and several hundred were murdered
in the first three months after hostilities ended. Hundreds of thousands of
Jews ended up in Displaced Persons camps throughout Europe, where condi-
tions were only marginally better than they had been in the Reich’s death
For the balance of 1945, only eight small ships carrying a thousand Dis-
placed Persons reached Palestine from ports in Italy and Greece. For the
first half of 1946, another 10,500 immigrants arrived on eleven ships.Hazi-
el took Lilith to the kibbutz at Yad Mordechai during this span of time.
From August 1946 to December 1947, 51,700 Displaced Persons try to make
their way to Palestine on thirty-five ships, but are captured by the Brit-
ish and taken to new camps on the island of Cyprus, where they languish
behind barbed wire. Many of the armed guards of these camps in Cyprus had
liberated some of the same prisoners from the extermination camp at Belsen-
Belson only eighteen months prior to this, and they are fully aware of
this. Clandestine immigration to Palestine falls to a trickle. The British
propose a plan to divide Palestine, but it is rejected by both Arabs and
Jews, and the question is referred to the United Nations.
On August 31, 1947, the UN proposes the creation of two independent states
in Palestine, one Arab and one Jewish, with the city of Jerusalem under
separate international control to administer the holy places of the world’s
three major monotheistic religions. The Jewish side of the partition was to
have 500,000 Jews and 400,000 Arabs. The Arab side was to have 700,000
Arabs and 10,000 Jews, and Jerusalem was to have about 100,000 of each eth-
nicity. The Jews would get the blasted wasteland of the Negev desert, and
the Arabs would get the fertile upper Galilee region.
The UN thinks all these arrangements are fair. So fair, in fact, that after
Israel declares Statehood and the UN realizes the Displaced Persons are
being handed rifles as soon as they get off the boat at Haifa, another SC
resolution is passed to prevent immigration of males from age 17 to 45.
David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency whose authority was estab-
lished by the League of Nations, knew the Jews would have to fight even for
the lousy territory they had been assigned. He orders every Jew in Pales-
tine mobilized for war, men and women alike.
On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly accepts the partition propos-
als by a vote of thirty-three votes to thirteen, with ten abstentions. The
Jewish people, homeless since the days of Emperor Hadrian of Rome, are to
have their own state again. There is rejoicing in the streets, but the peo-
ple danced still knowing war lies just ahead.
On the day after Partition, a bus carrying Jewish civilians to Jerusalem is
attacked by Arabs with rifles and grenades, killing five people, including
a young bride named Shoshona Mizrachi Farhi on the way to her wedding The
bus attack comes to symbolize the beginning of the war for independence,
which would claim the lives of 6,000 Jews, or one percent of the total pop-
In this period, just after Partition but before the official declaration of
the state of Israel, the armed forces are called theHaganah (Defense).
Great Britain still occupies Palestine, and considers the Haganah to be an
illegal organization. By the fall of 1947 Haganah has two thousand regulars
and a thousand reserves.
Armed Bedoin nomads surround a number of isolated settlements in the south,
including Lilith’s collective farm. The Jewish leader David Ben-Gurion
swears that not one single settlement will be evacuated. Armored cars pro-
duced in Tel Aviv are used to secure the water pipelines that these settle-
ments depend on, and also to send weapons and reinforcements through the
After a Jewish convoy is attacked en route to reinforcing the kibbutz at
Yad Mordechai, and all forty-six soldiers are killed, the Haganah develops
a plan to occupy those Arab communities that lay close to or directly be-
tween Jewish cities and the far-flung settlements.
In most cases, the Arabs flee their communities when they are besieged and
occupied. In the case of the town of Dair Yassin where they do not, the
Jewish terrorist groups Irgun and the Stern Gang massacre all the Arabs,
men, women, and children, to the shock and horror of most Jews, including
the leadership of the Haganah. But the Haganah is not yet willing to cut
off all ties to Irgun because they need manpower and rifles and they have
the same enemies. In April Haganah and Irgun even conduct joint operations
along the coast while the British accelerate their complete withdrawal from
In reprisal for the Deir Yassin massacre in March, a convoy of armored
buses is attacked on April 15, and seventy-seven Jewish doctors, nurses,
and patients are killed. Only twenty-eight survive, and only eight of these
are not wounded.
King Abdullah of Transjordan, who is the only real ally of the Jews in the
region, offers Jewish autonomy, but only if it remains under his sovereign-
ty. A Jewish Agency negotiator named Golda Meir is pained to disappoint her
good friend the king, but she has to reject his offer. After all that the
Jews have suffered, especially in the Shoah (or Holocaust), it is simply
not enough to be represented in a foreign parliament.
This leads directly to the declaration of the State of Israel on May 15,
1948. Eleven minutes later, President Truman officially recognizes the
state by cable, before he even knows what the name of the country will be.
Israel’s army boasts nearly 37 thousand troops, but 1,200 have already been
killed in combat. Britain opens the detention camps on Cyprus and thousands
stream into Israel by ship, many having already been trained in the camps
by the Haganah.
On the first full day after Independence is declared, Iraqi troops cross
over the Jordan River. Simultaneously, Israeli troops raid Lebanon to delay
their entrance into the war. Syria comes down from the Golan heights with
thirty tanks and advances to the sea of Galilee. Two 65mm artillery pieces
check the Syrians at the kibbutz known as Deganya, then the guns are rushed
south to attack the Iraqis besieging the old British fort overlooking Gesh-
er on the Jordan River, who then flee.
On the second day Transjordanian and Egyptian troops join the assault.
Saudi Arabia sends a company of troops who fought with Egypt. And Egypt
even lands troops on the beach at Majdal between Gaza and Tel Aviv. The
first Egyptian attack is against the kibbutz of Kfar Darom, seven miles
south of Gaza, where thirty settlers hold off elements of the Muslim Broth-
erhood with grenades. When their grenades ran out, they put explosives in
bags and hurl them at the attackers. When Egypt rolls in tanks, the set-
tlers fire anti-tank weapons at the lead tanks, destroying them, and caus-
ing the other tanks to withdraw.
Egypt bypasses Kfar Darom and moves to kibbutz Nirim, five miles away.
Twenty defenders are killed there but the rest hold on. Not even an air
attack the next day broke their will.
In January 1948, the first state-sponsored forces from Syria began to make
raids, and in this instance, the Jews are aided by counter-attacks from the
Royal Air Force, for the British still considered themselves the rulers of
Palestine, on paper.
When the Haganah completely abandons the coastal highway running south from
Tel Aviv, Lilith’s kibbutz at Yad Mordechai is completely cut off. Only two
private aircraft maintained contact between north and south, carrying basic
supplies and newspapers.
Lilith is part of theGahal, or immigrant soldiers. Most of the children in
the kibbutz are called Sabra. That is, they had been born in Palestine and
knew no other home. Lilith is their guardian when their parents work the
fields, both before and during the war.
Lilith’s kibbutz lies just west of the road that links Gaza to the Egyptian
beachhead at Majdal. Egypt hurls two infantry battalions, one armored bat-
talion, and an artillery battalion against them one dawn for an attack that
lasts five days. It is Lilith’s baptism by fire, the battle that forges
her into a fierce warrior. She would go on to fight in every one of her
country’s conflicts until orthodox Jews prevailed to remove her from the
front lines, and after that she would personally train Del, the daughter of
Haziel, to become the even more legendary commander of Bravo Battalion.It
is Lilith’s unwavering belief that theYishuv, the People, always come
Much enemy armor is taken out with the PIAT (Projectile, Infantry, Anti-
Tank). Those Arab tanks which manage to breach the Yad Mordechai perimeter
are set alight at close range with Molotov cocktails or attacked with hand
grenades whose fragments would enter the tank through the view slit, wound-
ing the crew and forcing them to retire. Other tanks are taken out with
mines, and still others break down and are dragged out of range by armored
But there are just too many Egyptians, and the shelling never ceases. After
five days the settler’s ammunition is spent. Lilith helps bury their dead,
and then helps carry the wounded through the Egyptian lines under the cover
of darkness, along with all the remaining settlers. Yad Mordechai is aban-
doned, and in the morning the Egyptians burn it to the ground. But during
those five days of resistance Tel Aviv is saved from being overrun. The
stubborn defense at Yad Mordechai gives Tel Aviv time to bring in rein-
forcements and firm up the defensive line on the road between the city and
On June 11, a truce called by the United Nations goes into effect and last-
ed until July 9. In nearly one month of war Israel lost 900 soldiers and
Between the first truce and a second one is ten more days of fighting. The
IDF captures Nazareth, the home town of Yeshua, which has grown much larger
than the original five hundred souls. The second truce lasts until October
15, and is followed by one solid week of fighting against Egypt. On the
first day of that week Israeli warplanes bomb the Egyptian air base at El
Arish on the Mediterranean coastline of Sinai, and also cut the railway
from El Arish to Rafa.
After the third cease-fire takes effect on October 22, Lilith and the Pol-
ish settlers who had taken her in move back into the ruins of Yad Mordechai
and begin to rebuild. There would be renewed fighting in the winter, and a
fourth and final cease fire, but Lilith judges that the continued existence
of her new nation is no longer in doubt.
On her collective farm after the War of Independence Lilith Gervasi im-
merses herself in honest toil cultivating the fields and garden crops and
occasionally defends the settlement from gunmen who infiltrate from the
nearby Gaza Strip to kill Jews simply for being Jews. Sometimes these at-
tacks on Yad Mordechai are followed up by fierce IDF reprisal raids. Lilith
is mobilized as a sergeant in the IDF reserves to help guide the counterat-
Apart from her trusty British-made rifle Lilith owns very little in the way
of personal possessions. She has only her clothing, a radio she shares with
the others in the Women’s House, and other such modest things. There are
tractors and jeeps, but they belong to the whole community. All the profits
of the kibbutz are pooled together for the needs of the laborers. The chil-
dren eat and sleep apart from their parents, and Lilith, who is attending
university part of the time, helps to educate them.
On July 23, 1952 there is a coup in Egypt deposing King Farouk, who has
ruled his country since 1936. One of the coup plotters named Colonel Gamal
Nasser steadily rises in influence to become the usual President-for-life.
Lilith graduates from Hebrew University in 1953 and is commissioned a sec-
ond lieutenant in the IDF. During her physical examination the IDF doctors
noted the mass of keloid whip scars on her back, which limits her range of
motion somewhat.They also note the six numbers tattooed on her arm and
know exactly how she had been disfigured.
In the fall, Lilith returns to Hebrew University to begin her academic work
for a Master’s degree. She is interested in the newly-revived Hebrew lan-
guage, which had been essentially a dead tongue (like Latin) for more than
two thousand five hundred years. After the Babylonian Vacation it fell out
of everyday use by the Jewish people, and this was true even in the time of
Yeshua, who had spoken the Syrian tongue called Aramaic. Over those twen-
ty-five centuries Hebrew became a rather specialized language spoken only
by the scribes and elders in synagogues, and in the Diaspora, when many
Jewish communities lost contact with each other, the pronunciation of He-
brew naturally drifted somewhat.
There were marked differences between the way the Shephardi Jews and Ashke-
nazi Jews spoke Hebrew, and there had been some infiltration of influences
from both Russian and Yiddish. When the Zion project was conceived, and
European immigrants began to settle in the Levant with the aim of creating
a Jewish homeland, the “official” pronunciation of Hebrew was decided by a
committee. But it was wrong at many points, and Lilith knew this because
from time to time she speaks to Haziel, who remembers how “biblical” Hebrew
had really been spoken. It only remained for Lilith to prove it. This was
the challenge that formed the heart of her Masters’ Thesis.
Soon after obtaining her advanced degree she received an elevation in rank
to seren, which corresponds to captain.
On July 26, 1956 Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal, seizing control from
the British. He closes the Straits of Tirin in the Red Sea, which effec-
tively puts the southernmost Israeli port of Eilat under a blockade. At the
same time he refuses to allow any ships bound for Tel Aviv or Haifa to
transit the canal. The United Kingdom and France lay plans to take the ca-
nal back by force, and they are interested in getting Israel involved in
this operation. Israel was already leaning toward a tussle with Egypt, the
question was not if but when. Cross-border fedayeen raids from the Gaza
strip had never ceased over the eight years Egypt had occupied it.
The French begin to arm the IDF, especially the air force. And in the third
week of October Nasser moves part of his army into Gaza, including a number
of artillery pieces, which are used to shell the Israeli settlements near
the border, of which Lilith’s kibbutz of Yad Mordechai is the closest.
Nasser also moves troops into the Sinai Peninsula, supplied with the latest
Soviet military equipment.
On October 29 four Israeli World War II vintage P-51 Mustang fighter planes
fly into the Sinai and cut, with their propellers, all the telephone lines
connecting the Egyptian forces in Sinai to their home office in Cairo. On
the same afternoon, 395 IDF paratroopers are dropped at Mitla Pass, only
fifty miles from the Suez Canal. Meanwhile, a force commanded by Colonel
Ariel Sharon crosses the border and seizes (after very hard fighting) three
Egyptian positions along the 150 miles from Israel to the pass. Sharon then
disobeys orders to halt and proceeds to take Mitla Pass, at a cost of 38
On October 31 an Egyptian frigate fires two hundred shells into Haifa from
the sea, but a French destroyer drives it off. Two Israeli destroyers then
chase it down and open fire, and later two Israeli warplanes damage it with
rockets. The Egyptian ship surrenders, and it is boarded and towed into
Israel fights a fierce series of tank battles for Abu Ageila, and after two
days the Egyptians withdraw. From this position, Israel can supply its
troops in the central Sinai without an attack from the rear.
On November 2 the IDF seizes El Arish on the Sinai Mediterranean coast,
which completely isolates the Gaza Strip. By that same evening, the Egyp-
tian governor in Gaza surrenders. The Israelis penetrate to within ten
miles of the Suez Canal and take possession of forty Soviet-made T-34 tanks
and sixty armored vehicles which had been left behind there.
Seren Lilith Gervasi’s part in the war begins at Eilat and runs down the
western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba. The objective is to seize the guns at
Sharm el-Sheikh and lift the closure of the Straits of Tiran. Her commander
is Colonel Avraham Yoffe, and she is part of a motorized infantry brigade
of 1,800 soldiers and 200 vehicles. Their route is along a camel track
that was never designed to be used by wheeled vehicles. At one point at
Wadi Zaala they all break out their spades, dig their vehicles out of deep
sand, and push them uphill.
At Dahab Oasis they have their first firefight against the camel-mounted
troops of the Egyptian Frontier Force. They also are supplied with fuel
from boats sent down the Gulf of Aqaba from Eilat. Meanwhile, a detachment
of Ariel Sharon’s paratroopers advanced in a pincer movement down the Gulf
of Suez, nearly doubles the size of the Israeli assault force.
At Sharm el-Sheikh a huge battery of naval guns are positioned to block all
shipping to Eilat. There, 1,500 Egyptian troops with their mortars and ar-
tillery hold off the Israelis for four hours of intense fighting, and it is
over the course of those four hours that Lilith puts forth her supreme
fighting effort in this war.The big guns of the fort are disarmed by 9 AM
that morning. The water route to Eilat is open once more. Israel achieved
all of her war objectives in just one week, which is fortuitous, because
the American President Dwight D. Eisenhower threatens to essentially bank-
rupt France and Britain if they do not wrap things up. IDF losses are 172
killed and 817 wounded.
Having lost the war, Egypt is compelled by the terms of the cease-fire to
allow Israeli shipping to pass through the Suez Canal once more. Immediate-
ly, an Israeli destroyer squadron passes from the Mediterranean to the Red
Sea to support Yoffe, his battalion commanders, Seren Lilith Gervasi, and
all their infantry at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula.
Not by word, correspondence, telegram, or phone call does Lilith Gervasi
appraise her father in England of any of the things that she had achieved
since she parted from him, nor any of the historic events that transpire
daily around her. But after the war, when the reserves were being demobi-
lized Haziel came calling to visit before Lilith had exchanged her Seren’s
uniform for the clothing appropriate for a collective farm. And Lilith mar-
vels once more that Haziel appears to be precisely the same age as when
they first met on the beach at Underhill on the Isle of Wight in 1946.
Haziel embraces Lilith, then stands back a bit to regard the woman with a
friendly but appraising gaze. She says, “Your father Benjamin will not live
Lilith loses her smile, for she knows what Haziel is asking her to do. It
is something Lilith has dreaded for years. “I’m not ready to tell him ever-
ything,” she says soberly.
“No, but you are, I think, ready to tell him something, and that is a vast
improvement.” Sha holds out her hand. “Come. Please.”
Then Haziel whisks Lilith back to St. Catherine’s lighthouse on the Isle of
Wight in the same manner she had once whisked the girl to Yad Mordechai
twenty-one years prior. So it had not been a dream or a hallucination after
“Will you tell me who and what you really are, Haziel?” Lilith asks as they
walked toward the lighthouse that was so familiar to her.
“I will tell you everything,” Haziel assures her. “Everything! But only
after you have also told your father everything.”
Lilith stops in her tracks. “Why Haziel? Why must it be so?”
“Have you not discerned by now that I am healing your soul?”
After a long pause, Lilith nods her head, then resumes her walk.
“Good!” Haziel tells her. “That too is a sign that what I have been doing