( Book 1 - Heir to the Throne )
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14. Staying home; playing hide and seek; and feeling jealous.
The next morning, I refused to leave my bed, while I waited until everybody else had left our camp.
I didn't want to see my enthusiastic friends leave me, while I had to stay here!
Seeing them would only make me feel even sadder...
My Mom called me 'pigheaded'; but I became angry, and told her she was wrong and I didn't look like a pig.
I looked like a normal boy, and certainly not like some stupid animal!
Besides... didn't I resemble her and my Dad, as I was their son?
If I was a pig, they both had to be pigs too...
My Mom chuckled a bit at my indignant face, but she didn't dare utter another word.
My Dad laughed at her, and told her:
"Never try to outdo our son, when he switches into his brainiac mode! You will only make a fool of yourself..."
Yes, that was exactly what I tried to make clear to my Mom!
I disappeared under my blankets, turned my back towards them, and tried to get some more sleep.
Then, I heard Michail's big truck, pulling up from our parking lot and entering our circle of caravans...
Of course, my curiosity won from my anger, and I jumped out of bed and raced to our living room to have a look outside.
There was Michail's enormous truck, having one of our spare caravans attached, waiting for our kids to get in...
I dressed in a sudden hurry, and bolted out of our caravan to say goodbye to my lucky friends!
All the kids looked at me with happy faces; but they told me they were sad for me and would miss me.
Yeah, well... I would certainly miss THEM!
I went to Misha and hugged him, to let him know I wasn't mad at him for leaving me...
To my surprise, Misha got tears in his eyes, while he turned around hastily and entered the attached caravan...
Did my friend really miss me that much?
All the older kids followed Misha into the caravan, accompanied by one of the grown-ups.
Another grown-up helped a couple of youngsters climb into the backseat of Michail's enormous truck.
They went in with beaming faces, and enthusiastically waved at us.
Only our youngest toddlers had to stay behind, including me, longingly looking at the truck and caravan combination...
Michail tooted the horn; and the combination left our camp and disappeared into our surrounding woods.
A moment later, a couple of smaller cars drove into our circle of caravans.
They filled up with many grown-ups; to visit another gadjo town and try to gather some valuable goods to sell them...
This time, my Mom and Dad accompanied them; while a couple of older women stayed in our camp to look after us.
One by one, the crowded cars disappeared into our woods, following Michail's truck towards the gadjo world.
At last, our camp was silent again; and everything around me felt very empty...
A few older women started to prepare some leftovers, warming them over our campfire.
Immediately, all the left behind kids crowded around them, demonstratively rubbing their hungry stomachs!
Reluctantly, I joined our toddler-group to have my own share of the food, because my hungry stomach felt empty too.
The little bit of warmed food helped somewhat to dispel the yearning feeling, but not much...
After our scanty meal, I left our camp and sauntered into our woods, wanting to be alone.
I didn't want to play with our group of toddlers, while all my friends had lots of fun in some interesting gadjo town...
With tears in my eyes, I walked along the winding path to our huge clearing.
There, I turned to the left and slowly followed the path towards our waterfall.
In the meantime, my thoughts were about why life had to be so cruel to a certain little prince...
I reached our ravine, sat down on top of its ridge, and stared at all the beautiful colors of our splashing waterfall.
However, I didn't really see them, because my eyes were again filled with tears.
Now and then, I wiped them with the backs of my hands, but they returned immediately...
At last, I let them just drip, now and then sniffling.
For a long time, I sat on a ridge, staring at our waterfall without seeing much, moping and feeling disappointed.
Why did I have to be such a small runt for such a long time?
Even for an almost five-year-old boy, my body was still very immature...
When would I finally grow up, and be allowed to visit the interesting gadjo world?
I was sure I would be very good at begging, and a valuable part of our kids group!
At last, I started to throw little pebbles into the water, trying to hit the same place twice.
In the meantime, I tried to remember what exactly Misha had told me, about small children having their 'growth spurt'....
When would I finally have MY first growth spurt?
Or, would I be a 'little runt' for the rest of my life?
By now, Misha and the other kids were surely having lots of fun in that interesting gadjo town!
In the meantime, I had to bore myself to death here...
My eyes started to tear up again, but now I wiped them angrily with a tuft of grass.
I was NOT a crybaby!
After half an hour, one of our older women showed up and tentatively approached me.
I looked back at her; and thought, maybe, she could be a bit worried about me...
Well, she didn't need to do that, because I was perfectly able to amuse myself, without any help!
I didn't need anybody from our camp to cheer me up!
Only Misha would be able to do that...
The worried woman stepped nearer and ruffled my hair, while she asked me:
"Why don't you join your friends around our campfire? They miss you..."
"I just don't feel like playing with the toddlers! Misha is my friend, and together we always have lots of fun. I wanted to be with Misha today..."
To my utmost consternation, I started to cry again...
Immediately, I suppressed my tears, so that the woman wouldn't think I was one of our toddlers!
I hoped she didn't hear my sobs, while I furtively wiped my eyes with the backs of my hands.
I didn't want to be a crybaby, and certainly not in her eyes.
The friendly woman smiled at me, while she stretched her hand out towards me...
Still feeling a bit unwilling, I took her inviting hand, and hesitantly let myself be dragged upright.
Okay, I didn't seem to have any other choice, sigh...
Maybe, going back to our camp would pass the time a bit faster than sitting around here moping...
Walking together, we sauntered back to our campfire and the other attending women.
Nobody said a word, but they all smiled at me and seemed to be happy to see me back.
Then, they offered me a steaming and nicely smelling cup of soup!
Wow. That was an unexpected but very welcome surprise!
Suddenly, I felt thankful for leaving my solitude and returning to our camp...
Of course, our toddlers were again playing their game of hide and seek around our caravans.
I had played this game myself many times before, when I was still a small boy and wet my diaper at night.
I was very good at the game, and the others always had a lot of difficulty finding me.
However, now, I belonged to our group of bigger kids...
I slumped down onto one of the wooden benches around our campfire, and silently sipped my soup.
At the same time, I started to mope again...
Why did my life have to be so empty, while all my friends had lots of fun in the mysterious gadjo world?
Why didn't my Dad allow me to accompany my friend Misha, to help him beg?
All my regular friends were there; and only a couple of small toddlers and I had to stay here.
This wasn't fair!
Again, I repressed my tears...
After some time, six-year-old Jonno and another boy of around the same age approached me hesitantly.
Although they both were nearly two years older than I was, I still thought about them as being much younger.
Could it be because I was a Prince, or did I really feel a lot more mature than they were?
Maybe, my too bright brain was in the way and confused me about our ages...
Both boys looked at me pleadingly, while one of them asked:
"Please, Harold, our game of hide and seek is always a lot more fun when you join in..."
"Sorry, but I don't feel like playing today. I wanted to join Misha to that gadjo town..."
"Please, play with us; because you are the best. It is always less fun without you..."
"Well... Okay. Then, let's go. Who is the seeker, and where is the border?"
Immediately, all the other kids started to cheer, while they enthusiastically crowded around me!
They told me they had missed me a lot; and they were very happy to have me back...
To be honest; during the remainder of the day, I had more fun than I could have imagined that morning.
I WAS very good at the game; and the other kids had to do their utmost to find me...
They looked everywhere, searched all the bushes, and nearly tripped over my legs that were buried under some litter; but didn't see me.
At last, they gave up, and called me!
I showed up, triumphantly, from within a dense bush only a few steps away...
Then, it was my turn to be the seeker.
I put my hands across my ears, closed my eyes, and slowly started to count to twenty...
In the meantime, all the others scurried away hastily, trying to find a proper hiding place before I started looking for them.
Although I couldn't see or hear them, I could clearly feel their energies leaving me and spreading out into many different directions!
When I experimentally focused onto Jonno's energy, I felt his aura going to our campfire and hiding behind one of the older women...
After I finally reached twenty, I opened my eyes and started to look around.
Of course, I saw Jonno immediately, squatting down behind an older woman.
However, because I hadn't given him a fair chance, I pretended not to see him...
Then, one of the other kids moved a bit behind a caravan wheel, and I saw him and called his name.
Because I knew every nook and cranny of our camp; it was relatively easy to find all their hiding places.
One by one, I found my friends and called their names; or, I described them in case I didn't know any newcomer's name.
Nobody had been able to free themselves before I saw them and called their name!
We had a lot of fun, and decided to go on with the next game.
Just when we started to vote for the next seeker, one of the kids looked around and asked:
"Where is Dimi?"
"I don't know... Who is Dimi?"
"He is the little boy who joined us today for the first time... He is only three years old, but he seems to be really good at hiding."
"Okay, let's find him; before he shows up, frees himself, and I have to be the seeker again!"
I started to round our camp again, carefully looking everywhere...
However, I didn't find another little boy; although I was sure I had scrutinized all our known places at least two times!
Could Dimi have left our camp, or could he have entered his own caravan without warning us?
Was this the same feeling the other kids always had, when they couldn't find ME, and had to give up and call me?
By now, many other kids were helping me find little Dimi; but they didn't detect him either...
Where could the new little boy be? He seemed to have vanished into thin air...
Should we give up our search, and call him to show up?
I still wasn't sure, and hesitantly told them:
"I want to be sure Dimi plays fair, before I give up. Maybe, he has left our camp; or he hides outside our border or in one of our caravans..."
One of the other kids started to laugh, while he told me:
"I know where Dimi is, but I am not telling you! I only guarantee you he IS playing fair."
This was the first time, since I played hide and seek, that I wasn't able to find a hiding kid...
Because I was 'pigheaded', I decided not to give up, but continue my search until I found him!
From now on, I would use every dirty trick I could think of!
Closing my eyes, I concentrated on some little gypsy boy called 'Dimi', determined to detect his energy field...
Immediately, I sensed a joyful aura, having quite a lot of fun at outdoing me!
The little devil...
He was quite nearby; desperately trying not to laugh at all my idle tries to find him...
Now, I was even more determined!
I felt around for little Dimi, until I knew exactly from which direction his energy field radiated towards me.
To my utmost surprise, his aura field came straight from our own black-and-golden Royal caravan!
The little hellion!
I had never thought anybody else would ever dare to hide under what was my own Royal home...
However, now I HAD the daredevil!
I went to my caravan, and ducked under it to have a closer look.
Where could Dimi hide himself?
At the back of the caravan, I saw a scant pile of fallen leafs, haphazardly blown against one of the cartwheels.
I had seen it before, but never thought anybody could ever be able to hide under it.
This pile was just too small to be able to hide anything, unless there was a small hole in the ground...
I crawled under our caravan, and tentatively wiped the few leafs away.
A happy looking tiny face showed up from under the litter, immediately offering me a broad smile.
Two little dark brown eyes looked straight into mine, sparkling with joy and pride!
Then, a small boy popped up from the tiny hole he had hid himself in, grinning:
"I thought you would never find me! Now, it's my turn to be a seeker."
I liked Dimi immediately, and thought we could easily become friends.
The only thing was, that he would be too young to be allowed to join us into our woods.
He would have to wait for at least another year or so, until he would be dry during the night...
Grinning at each other, we crawled from under our caravan, immediately cheered at by all the others!
I took Dimi's right hand and put it high into the air, while I declared:
"Our game of hide and seek is won by Dimi! He is the best hider I have ever seen."
Dimi started to beam; but he also reacted a bit timid when everybody focused on him.
Then, he wanted to be our next seeker.
He closed his eyes, while he hesitantly asked me:
"Please, Harold, could you help me count to twenty? I can only count my ten fingers..."
Of course, I helped little Dimi; although it prevented me from partaking in our next game.
However, helping him also felt like declaring my friendship to him...
To my surprise, Dimi turned out to be very good at finding the others as well!
In no time, he had tagged them all; with a beaming face and sparkling eyes.
Near the end of the day, our cars returned into our camp, while the drivers tooted happily.
Immediately, we all crowded around them, wanting to see what they had gathered.
Much to our delight, they had their trunks filled to the brim with lots of valuable gadjo goods!
Our men stowed the gathered goods immediately into our nearly invisible caves along a few ravines.
There, they would be kept cool, and they were hidden away from any unwanted eyes...
In a happy mood, we helped our grown-ups carry the many goods and stow them away.
Then, the tired men gathered around our campfire, drinking lots of coffee and warmed soup.
They told us how they barely escaped a mistrustful police officer who tried to arrest them.
Of course, they immediately spread out into different directions, and waited until they were sure none of them had been followed.
Then, they sneaked back to the cars they had parked outside the gadjo town, and drove home in an excellent mood.
A moment later, Michail's truck-caravan-combination showed up, while Michail enthusiastically tooted his horn.
Obviously, he was in an excellent mood as well!
All our older kids jumped out of the truck and caravan, proudly carrying several bags filled with nicely smelling food.
They piled the bags onto a table, and sat down onto the wooden benches around our campfire.
Michail emptied a few bags onto a big platter; and invited us to come over and taste the goodies...
Immediately, everybody crowded around the platter, and started to munch on all the delicious gadjo things!
For the first time in several days, we were able to fill our hungry stomachs to the brim, and that felt wonderful.
The happy looking kids started to tell us about their many adventures while begging in a nearby gadjo town.
In some places, they had been chased away, spit at, and called nasty names.
However, in other places, a couple of nicer gadjo people had helped them and given them some food.
Now and then, they even got some money, which Michail had put away into another paper bag.
The best place for begging seemed to be the 'central market', near the middle of the town.
There, our kids got their paper bags filled with the most delicious things...
Now, we had brownies, cakes, hotdogs, rolls, and even loafs of real gadjo bread that tasted strange but very nice.
It felt wonderful, to have my stomach properly filled!
However, at the same time, I still felt a bit sad, by thinking about all the adventures I had missed today...
I was very jealous of my older friends, who had been allowed to visit the so interesting gadjo world.
Even seeing my friend Misha back, and hearing his stories, didn't help me to come out of my disappointment.
That evening, we had a big feast, while we all gathered around our campfire.
Our violin players played wonderful melodies, full of joy and longing.
Many people started to dance, our children climbed from lap to lap to be held and feel safe, and everybody had lots of fun.
One time, Misha tried to dance with Biny; but they started to fool around, leaving us bellowing with laughter...
We had a very good time; and I finally lost my negativity and started to enjoy our feast!
At last, I was too sleepy to keep my eyes open, and asked my Mom to put me to bed in our caravan.
I even apologized to her, for having been too 'pigheaded'!
My Mom only smiled, while she draped the blankets around me and kissed me good night.
Within a few minutes, I was sound asleep.
That night, I dreamed of a gadjo town; where I chased away all the nasty inhabitants, by spitting at them.
I went home, carrying lots of money; to buy many bags of delicious food and nice looking clothes for all of us.
My new friend, little Dimi, enthusiastically helped me distribute them...
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Harry AnderS, Dutch psychotherapist and writer of 'books with a message'
and, of course, a huge hug from your big friend, little Harry...