May 25, 2013

God and Hot Pretzels

God and Hot Pretzels
One 3rd grade morning three men in dark suits walk into our classroom accompanied by the director. They whisper something to our teacher, Ungureanu Elena, and she introduces them as “Dragi tovarasi din partidul Communist” [Dear comrades from the Communist Party]. Then she steps aside.
One of the “dragi tovarasi” comes forward and speaks in a solemn voice. He tells us how the Communist Party has worked very hard to destroy the enemies of our beloved country, the Socialist Republic of Romania. He talks about the many Communist members who lost their lives to protect us and to make sure that our generation will have the best future ever. He closes his yawn causing speech urging us to be proud pioneers and to love the communist party. When he finishes, another comrade steps forward.
“Sunteti famanzi [Are you hungry]?”
“Da [Yes]!” we all answered chorally.
“Vreti sa mancati covrigi calzi [Do you want to eat hot pretzels]?”
“Da [Yes]!” we shout again.
 “Credeti in dumnezeu [Do you believe in God]?” we take a few seconds then respond with a loud yes.
“Bun. Atunci puneti-va in ghenunchi si rugati-va o ora-ntreaga la dumnezeu sa va aduca covrigi calzi [Good. Then get on your knees and pray for one hour for God to bring you hot pretzels].”
Before the men leave, our teacher kneels and instructs us to do the same. She chants a prayer, and we repeat after her., “Our heavenly Father” is closed with our request for hot pretzels. We repeat the prayer to ourselves, and an hour later the three men walk back in and the third one asks in calm concerned tone:
“Copiii, ati primit covrig? [Children, did you get your pretzels]?”
Tired and definitely hungry we shout,
“Nu [No]!”
“Asta nu e bun. Acum ingenunchiati si rugati-va la tovarasul Ceausescu sa va aduca covrigi calzi [This is not good. Now kneel and pray for one hour to comarade Ceausecu to bring you hot pretzels].”
Again they leave the classroom and we back on our knees teacher and all eyes closed and praying hard. We repeat the new prayer our teacher has for us. She replaces “God and Holy Father” with “The most loved human on earth and Tovarasul Ceausescu.” No later than we say his name the doors open wide and in a grand manner, a few baskets of hot poppy and sesame seed pretzels are brought in. They are passed around, and we help ourselves. To this day I swear I never saw smelled or ate better pretzels. When we finish eating the men return.
“Copii v-au placut covrigii [Children, did you like the pretzels]?”
We shouted full and with joy, “Daaaaa [Yes]!”
“Credeti mai bine in dumnezeu ori in tovarasul Nicolae Ceausescu [Do you believe in god or in comrade Ceausecu]?”
“In tovarasul Ceausescu [In comrade Ceausescu],” we cheer without a doubt.

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