Passing Definition

I was raised to code switch admirably, to play the part, to step out of one world and into the next seamlessly. It wasn’t a conscious decision on the part of my parents – it wasn’t even their decision at all. Baba Edita prided herself on her good...

Life/Line

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself. It is not far. It is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.” ― Walt Whitman, Leaves of...

Identity

It was one of those bright, searing summer days. I stood with my Bibi below the treeline on a hill somewhere north of Vyšný Tvarožec, looking towards Poland. I was young, six or seven, and it was the last time I ever visited the places my family were from....

Zoralipe

“Romani are so very strong,” Papu told me once. “We carry the rest of the world on our shoulders without any complaint, yet they are always telling us we must do better!” People have repeatedly asked me for more clarification regarding why I...

The other side of me

This is a more personal post, a shorter, less known story. I never talk much about the Polish side of my family. Many… most of them died in the Holocaust. They were Siwak and Mirga. I… am Siwak and Mirga… and Zavačková. We changed our names when we...

Silence / čitiben

“Silence,” Maami said, “is the only thing that saved our lives.” She barely talked about her life during the war, their passage out of mainland Europe, or their arrival in the North of England. Sometimes, there were brief mentions, scuttering...

Grief / briga

So hin učo oda svetos, hej, de te merel, jaj, mušinav. Hej, de te merel, jaj, mušinav, hej, de njič man Devla njič na dukhal The world is so high, hey, I have to die. Hey, I have to die. Hey, nothing hurts me, God, nothing ____ Sometimes, there in the dark Papu...

benginjali balvaj / Terrifying Wind

Today, as I walked in the sun on my lunch break, a cold gust of wind followed me, rustling the trees as I stepped by. I shuddered and stopped. Bibi Penella told me a story once, when I was seven, about a wind just like that. Once long, long ago, there was a young Rom...

Passive/Aggressive

“You Gypsies, you never stand up for yourselves. That’s the problem,” the gadžo professor nodded his head emphatically. We had been discussing the situation of Romani throughout Europe and the best way to improve conditions. “You don’t do...

My words, my stories / mre lava, mre paramiča

Academia loves a good story. A quick JSTOR search yields papers, such as “Roast Chicken and Other Gypsy Stories”, “Gypsies Drown in Shallow Water”,  “A Gypsy, a Butterfly, and a Gadje”,  or “The Gypsies’ Fiddle and Other...