“Wow! Weird! Who is she?”
I was showing visiting friends, Frieda and Anna, around my new hometown. The woman in question did not often come to town but when she did she stood out among the mini-skirted throng like a … like a … well, I was going to say sore thumb, but that does not really express it.
I had to admit I did not know who she was, except, “I believe she is one of those people they call “Blourokkies” and they live on a farm about thirty miles from town.”
“Does she always dress like that?” asked Frieda, eyes following the figure walking briskly along the opposite pavement. At the same time Anna asked, “What are “Blourokkies”?”
I tried to answer both questions at once, “Yes. I think “Blourokkies” means “Blue Dresses” and she always wears a plain blue dress with a high neck, long sleeves and a long skirt. And, as you see, a blue scarf over her head. I understand they are a religious group who say that God speaks to them – don’t ask me how because I don’t know - and they live their lives strictly according to the Bible. That’s all I know.”
By now the lady in the long blue dress had entered the bakery and we sauntered on. Frieda continued to frown and chew her lip. “Weird!” she repeated, and remained abstracted all the way home.
Later she roused herself from her reverie to ask, “How does God talk to them – okay, okay, you said you don’t know. Do you have a Bible?”
Surprised, I answered, “I think there’s one on the bookshelf. Why?”
“Don’t know. Just thought I’d look.”
Leaving Anna absorbed in a jigsaw puzzle we two located a Bible somewhere on a higher shelf. “Whew!” Frieda blew the dust from the top edge. “Not the family favorite, is it?”
She kicked off her shoes, snuggling into the big chair near the fire. Seeing neither girl needed my company I wandered into the kitchen to make the family meal.
Dinnertime was as much about talking as about eating. It was the one time of day the family spent together – on a normal day, I mean, and so we all brought news and views to share with one another. This evening Frieda flummoxed us all by asking right out cold, “Does anyone understand the Bible?” She looked around at open mouths, poised forks, a silent cessation of activity. Even my brother and sister looked stunned. Eventually my father, a well-regarded family solicitor, cleared his throat, put down his fork and smoothed his agitated moustache.
“Well, my dear,” he began, “there are men, scholarly men, men of the church, you know, who study the Scripture assiduously. They would be able to answer your questions. However, we as a family, ” his eyes swept the table, quelling any contradiction, “we do not have the competence to answer your questions.”
He returned to his knife and fork. The subject was closed. But it had been a bad start and conversation was desultory. Besides, Frieda was not yet finished. Along with the dessert she trotted out her next question.
“Who are the “Blourokkies”? Are they scholarly men?”
My mother choked on a spoonful of ice-cream as Father turned his full attention to Frieda.
“My dear girl, what IS this sudden interest in religion? There is a group of farmers, good men no doubt, and successful farmers, who live in the neighborhood of this town, and who are known locally as “Blourokkies;” chiefly I believe because of the dress affected by their womenfolk. I do not think you could truthfully call them scholarly men. I think it would be more correct to refer to them as a CULT.” He pronounced the word distastefully and frowned as he considered the best way to explain this. “I understand their beliefs are – er – somewhat outlandish, though to be sure they are well-behaved citizens, if somewhat anti-social. By that I mean that they do not take part in the usual events and activities of the community, but keep themselves to themselves. May we leave it at that?”
Without waiting for her reply he turned to Mother. “Maria, may we take our coffee in the living room please?”
With evident relief she nodded and they rose and moved away, leaving us young ‘uns to clear the table. I could see from Frieda’s expression that she was not yet satisfied. There would be more questions, and I didn’t know who was to answer them.
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