For many years as a kid, I was upset with God. It was something in the way the priest gripped my cheeks each time he would come to bless our home after Christmas or Easter. It was something in the smell of incense that choked my throat when I entered the church. And, although my grandmother tried to build a halo of legends around God with whispered bed-time stories, the continuous gossip of old ladies in the church halls made my skin crawl. I was the constant target of this blabber, as I didn’t use to cover my head and as my 8-year old clothes were ridiculously regarded as too voluptuous. But most of all, I was upset with God because of the war in Yugoslavia. I used to spend several hours looking outside the window at night and imagining fires and violence, until I would eventually fall asleep, tickled by a childish despair and by the smell of dry rags. It was hard for me to believe God had his ways. I blamed Him for indifference and sometimes even for inexistence.
Then, a strange event occurred, that would change my view of divinity forever. As a child, I had many dreams. Some were as insignificant as building a snow castle each December, or gathering dandelions, while others were close to impossible. My most eccentric dream haunted me each time I turned on the old television in my parents’ room. The former communist regime was not yet forgotten, and mass media were still a luxury. As a consequence, my childhood was intoxicated with TV channels aired directly from Britain, and most importantly, with British commercials of shiny, oversized plastic toys that could move and talk. There was this particular Barbie horse that could walk by itself when you pushed its tail that really caught my attention.Most of my dolls were dead rags that hardly resembled anything and that had buttons instead of eyes, so I was surprised that a toy could be so beautiful and seem so alive. I sometimes wondered why one couldn’t find toys like that on the Romanian market and at times I felt that I should have been born in Britain – I found it all a divine plot against me, as if at birth I had been catapulted into the wrong context. It was quite common for guests to see me suddenly drop on the floor and burst into tears, even if two minutes before I had been standing quietly in front of the TV, munching some cookies. It was a pretty weird scene, as I never demanded my parents to buy me the horse when crying, but rather ordered them to move to Britain. My poor mother had to temper me each time I started those inevitable cries. And one of her best methods to make me stop was to warn me that Santa and the Easter bunny wouldn’t bring me presents anymore, because I scare them away.
That particular day, my parents were out shopping, and I was left to share my burning emigration desire with the blank walls. The burdening solitude echoed a divine presence in my mind and, for the first time in my life, I felt the sudden impulse of sitting on the floor and talking to God. It was not a prayer, I felt. It was just as talking face to face to a person in a café, over a steamy coffee. I explained to Him why I wanted that toy horse so much and, with every spoken word, I realized that I could overcome my desire. I concluded with the certainty that if I were to see and touch that toy, I would surely lose my interest in it. As if God had agreed upon the deal, a shimmering light hit the nearest roof outside and reflected inside the narrow hallway where I was sitting, filling it with a still grace.
My father used to repair televisions for extra money. Most of the time, he would take me along, knowing how much I liked to discover the intricate contraptions behind the overwhelming screen of the TV.That afternoon, after my discussion with God, we went to visit a rich family whose children had most of the toys I saw on TV. And in a quiet corner, the horse was waiting for me, with a glowing stare. I picked it up and its silky hair made my hands shiver. I examined its small nostrils and the beautiful curve of its neck and then I gently pressed its tail. Exactly like in the commercial, it obeyed, and started moving across the room, bumping into every chair or object in its way. The sound of each step it made covered my echoing heartbeats. For a second, it was as if that horse generated my every breath and thought. Then it suddenly stopped and I came to realize that there was no difference between my imitations of toys and this Barbie horse. In fact, they were more human and close to my heart, as this horse almost looked alien in its still grace. From that moment on, it meant nothing to me.
I cannot doubt the existence of God since then. He became, in my eyes, sensible towards the small details that round up one’s life, even towards the superficial dreams of a little girl that watches too many commercials.