The sun was still high when I left school after finishing my detention and was able to be in time for supper. There was a strict rule at my home about supper – be there and – in time. My father was there, in time, ready for asking the Father in heaven for a blessing on the food; my mother had the pan with heaped-up steaming potatoes standing on the the the table in front of her, ready to be distributed among our family, and my siblings and I were sitting at our designated places around the table with folded hands and closed eyes, ready to do our prayers after father had finished his, in which he thanked God for the food that we were about to have. That was the order of things and it was regarded and if it was the ten commandments.
So, though I was late, I would be at my post around the table at the appointed time. The sun was still high enough in the sky to supply light and warmth over the field of potatoes as far as the eye could see on the right side of the road and the flax, rolling like the waves of the sea on the left. It all made me happy as I hopscotched on my wooden klompen clogs over the narrow brick road when …
I saw at least four gypsy wagons, and women with long skirts, and kids running around, and barking wild dogs, on the narrow road I had to travel to go home in time for supper.
I was so upset I said 'God help me,' without realizing it. Well, wouldn't you be scared?
Going back to follow the much longer route home was out of the question because I would be late for supper.
I once heard that girls always get you into trouble, and sure if the little girl with the long blond hair had not been there non of this would've happen. I had been so happy one moment and now I was not only scared, but terrified, and there was no way I dared pass those gypsy dogs. I heard enough horror stories about them. I was sure that the trouble I was in was not my fault this time, and actually it was not the little girls fault either, but whose fault was it then? The gypsies?
On the berm between the road and the ditch stood a tree planted years ago by one of my cousins or so the story goes. We called it Frank's tree.
I kicked off my klompen and climbed that tree, however not to the top because my weight bent the young tree over the ditch but at this height I was was the closest to God I could get. And there in Frank's tree I told God of my predicament. I fervently prayed for God to chase the gypsies away and even suggested a way to accomplish it. I thought a hurricane would do it alright, or a flood. There was not a fiber in my body doubting God's capability to chase the vicious dogs and its owners away, but so far I had not heard a hard wind, but perhaps miracles were taking some time. I also did not for a moment doubt that God would refuse my request, besides He knew that I was going to be late for supper, He knows everything.
Slowly I opened one eye – partly. I saw the flax field, still moving like the waves of the sea by a soft breeze, and then the potato field, blooming as it had before, and when I opened both my eyes wide I saw that not even the gypsy wagons had disappeared. --- I was sorely disappointed.
Warily I climbed down and when I was down I got good and angry – why was I rejected, were God made a path through the sea for the Jews and left me to fend for myself?
Something snapped in me. Stomping in my klompen I walked right to the middle of the road - I would show that wild dog, and the gypsies, and God too.
There was one boy writing something on the bricks of the road, but I marched straight on for the wild dog who, would you believe it? – who licked my hand!
The boy lifted his head
“He likes you,” he said.
“What are you writing there,” I asked him.
“Nothing much, just a name,” the boy said and I didn't know what to say.
“Rajah,” he said again. The dog really liked me I thought, as he sniffed my pants again.
“What's the dogs name,” I asked. The boy started to laugh.
“Rajah! ” he said, and then I had to laugh as well.
“Got to go now,” I said, “Suppertime.”
“Me too, see ye around.”
“See ye around,” I said and took off – in the middle of the road.
Rayah, I thought, what a funny name for a dog, but I liked the boy. We could be friends ...