Discovering Novi Bečej: Stories, people, history

By the paths of the past: Discover the rich history, interesting events and unforgettable people who have shaped Novi Bečej through time, as we return together to the heart of this beautiful city on the banks of the Tisza.

Dudara - Part of Our Childhood

On the right side of the road leading from Kumane to Novi Becej, from Radnicka Street all the way to house number 41 on Lole Ribara Street, and about fifty meters from this street towards the railway track, there was a meadow planted with mulberry trees. This is how it got its name - Dudara.

Dudara was a charming meadow in this part of the town. In spring, when the grass turned green and the tree branches filled with leaves, Dudara became a gathering place for children and youth. Laughter and shouts from the children's games echoed in the air. Besides the joy and happiness of playing outdoors in Dudara, children took special pride in herding flocks of goslings to graze. They enjoyed watching the goslings nibbling on the lush green grass and laughed when a gosling struggled to pull a piece of grass, flipping over onto its back, only to struggle to get back on its feet. Alongside the children, the guardians of the goslings were geese who vigilantly ensured that no intruder from another flock would sneak in.

Starting from their homes with a flock of goslings, children solemnly promised their mothers to keep a close eye on the goslings. It was a sincere promise quickly forgotten when Dudara was filled with a multitude of children and gosling herders, and everyone eagerly rolled around in the green and dense grass, forgetting about the goslings. In the beginning, the game did not interfere with taking care of the goslings, but as the play became more intense, the promise made to the mothers was gradually forgotten. Like typical geese, they grazed and even forgot to care for their offspring. Some lagged behind, while others sought new company in another flock. As the goslings mixed, the geese did not remain separated from their young ones; they joined the flock as well.

When one of the children, in the midst of the game, remembered to check on their flock and found them missing from where they left them, everything else was abandoned, and a search for the beloved goslings began. Every interest in the game ceased, and everyone anxiously searched for their flock. Despite the effort, no one could find their goslings because they all looked the same among the others. Cries echoed through Dudara as everyone searched for their own, but how could they find them when there was no distinguishing feature among the goslings? Widespread lamentation and blame-shifting ensued, circling the flock, attempting to separate the mature geese to help segregate the goslings, all to no avail. They sat, observed, discussed what to do, but none of the suggestions or attempts to separate the goslings yielded results. How would they face their mothers and if there was a solution at all? Blame was thrown around, at each other's geese, as each boy considered his mother the wisest and best gosling mother, but those others with their flocks had approached and mixed the goslings. The game grew tiresome, and the joy of caring for the goslings vanished in a moment.

Noontime approached, the time to send the goslings home for the mothers to feed them. However, with almost all gosling herders losing their flocks, those more responsible left Dudara, running to their homes in tears to deliver the sad news to their mothers that they had lost the goslings. They would explain to their mothers that despite their continuous attention, they couldn't save them because, fearing the geese, they couldn't approach them to prevent the mixing.

Mothers knew how it happened and expected it when they released the goslings into Dudara. Therefore, each mother marked her goslings in some way, usually with a unique feature, so they could find them if they strayed into another flock. Although they anticipated this, they found it challenging to leave their housework and go to Dudara to separate the goslings. Hence, there was a rule that the anger would be taken out on the designated guardian of the goslings. Before heading to Dudara, the gosling herder received a spanking, and the mother, in tears, would grab the child's hand, pulling them toward Dudara.

The arrival of the mothers simplified the problem to the extent that the gosling herders couldn't believe how clever their geese were. Geese recognized the voice of their mothers, and as each mother called out, 'Like, like!', the geese came, leading their goslings. If there were a few stragglers, the mothers, recognizing them by their unique features, would catch and reunite them with their flock. Thus, this 'drama' was successfully resolved. Mothers might have lost time from their daily routine, but it was a lesser evil than having the geese with their goslings in the yard all day. In this case, the spankings served as a kind of prevention to avoid a repeat, even though all mothers anticipated losing time the next day to separate the goslings.

As the goslings grew up, Dudara changed its appearance, and life in it became new. Instead of green grass and goslings, it gave way to mulberry leaf pickers for feeding silk worms. During that time, the impoverished people of Novi Becej raised silk worms, which was a source of income mostly earned by women and children. Then, in Dudara, in mid-July, three or four threshers arrived, and for 7-8 days, they threshed wheat for the impoverished people of Novi Becej.

After the threshers left Dudara, it relaxed until the autumn rains, when ponds formed in certain lower areas, attracting, instead of goslings, now flocks of mature geese. It was their kingdom; they bathed, mated, and enjoyed themselves until winter when the ponds froze.

In winter, Dudara became even livelier than in spring. In late autumn, nearly all waters from nearby street ditches merged, turning a large portion of Dudara into a swamp. By mid-December, this water froze, remaining frozen until the end of February. True, the ice wasn't immediately thick and solid, but that didn't bother the children, who couldn't wait for the swamp to freeze and prematurely tested its durability. First, they tested it by throwing frozen dirt, then with larger pieces of brick. If it endured all these trials, the bravest ones attempted to conquer the frozen swamp slowly, step by step, until they moved a step or two away from the shore, and the foot that stepped first sank under the weight of the body. When that happened, due to panic, another part of the ice broke. General laughter and teasing ensued, but the one who fell wasn't in a laughing mood. Not at all, because they were wet, and the frost was tightening, so they couldn't bear to dry their pants, socks, and shoes in Dudara; they had to go home as soon as possible. They knew that a spanking awaited them there, and they would have to squat 'near the stove' until the shoes and clothes dried.

So, the trial showed that they should wait a bit longer for ice skating. However, patience betrayed them, so the next day, if there was no severe frost during the night, they tested it again. This went on until, finally, the ice thickened sufficiently, and Dudara became an ice rink. The whole meadow echoed with the laughter of children and young people, skating and playing hockey. They spent their free time on the ice until late into the evening, and they felt happy and fulfilled. A bonfire was set up at one end of the swamp to warm up by the fire and, perhaps, dry wet pants, socks, and shoes.

Such times were happy times. Time passed quickly, and Dudara turned into a memory of bygone times. In those years, Dudara was a place of gathering, joy, and games for the youth. Although it no longer exists, the memories of Dudara are still alive in those who experienced it. Dudara will forever remain a part of our childhood, a place where friendships were forged, laughter echoed, and memories were created that still warm our hearts today.

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