Me Rom som, alje me džanav hoj oda nane kavka te phirel. But, but kinjardi som. Amaro hlasosi (glasurja) hine maj cixe. So sas čerindjom? Njič.
Kana na kana bajinav te phenel “me Rom som”. Na džanav so som te kerel. Kanastar e policija aven te ame khera… me… darav jagata, alje me čuxinav o švablikos…
*sigh*… gadže na džanen. Jon phenen “ame sam Tigane!” thaj mišljinen jekh čačes Rom pheneha “ako!” …..
Može me na džanav njič.
How are your people? How is today, your people, today?
Tu san amaro, amen sam tumare. Dža Devlesa.
Šaj arakhljom tut angle. Patjiv kaj dikhljom tut angle.
You are ours,
we are yours.
Perhaps I met you before.
Go with God.
Na. Naj dživde. Sa sa sa džan avka.
Are they alive?
No. They are all gone.
… be honest? If so, why?
…. just heard that I WAS ACCEPTED ALREADY!
[I think I’m crazy, going back to school!]
If one more person tells me I’ll be okay in these exams because”I’m smart” or because I “always am” or because I “freak out over nothing” … I will kill someone.
I just had meningitis. I have short term memory loss, exhaustion, headaches, and dizziness. I’m not just freaking cos I think I won’t get an A. I am freaking because I can’t remember things I just read. I can’t remember to do things ( like pick up my wallet when ordering a coffee; or remember my medicine; or remember what I just did with my phone). I’m scared. I’m scared it’s permanent. I’m scared of failing. I’m scared that I will get sick again.
I just need some support … Not to basically be told “oh shut up”
become fluent in Slovak.
become fluent in my dialect (written and spoken… it’s such a learning curve, writing something that was only ever spoken to you).
get a better job.
start my non-profit (almost there)
and finish writing my set of kids books (Romanes & English), then illustrate them (ahahahaha)
[I’m potentially fucked]
For those who don’t know
people always ask about my nose-ring when they find out I’m Romani…
"is it, like, an ethnic thing? like a throw back to your Indian roots?"
It was a 15 year-old-seemed-cool-at-the-time thing.
"but like, isn’t it appropriative to like, Indian people?"
Many cultures have piercing traditions.
"is it like,"
it’s 9.21 and I am still in bed.
At least I have my computer now though….
(I have 33 articles to outline and be able to remember in the next four days - something is incredibly wrong here…)
I failed middle and high school. Scraped through in the end with enough to get out the other side.
Report cards always said “must try harder”, but it seemed that no matter how hard I tried, I always came up short. D’s and F’s littered the pages like fallen leaves.
Really, they were my fallen dreams.
You can’t be anything if you don’t get the grade, they told me. Over and over. Must try harder. Too distracted. Doesn’t hand in homework.
I didn’t have anyone to help me navigate school. Grandparents completely illiterate, parents not much better. No books in our house. No bed time stories. No reason to read or work on the masses of ludicrous homework that was shoved absentmindedly into my bag at the end of every day.
A bag that was thrown into the corner as soon as I got home. No one asked me “do you have homework?” No one asked me “do you need help?”
None of my teachers saw the writing on the wall. They only saw a dirty Gypsy. Someone who was a waste of their breath. I wasn’t just out of my element and drowning in piles of letters and numbers,
I was unruly; wild; dirty; stupid; a waste of time.
I was never going to be anything except a drop-out married-young mother-of-many. I watched friends do this over and over - not just the girls.
Alvin, Petru, Danut - all dropped out, all married, all worked menial hard-won back-breaking jobs.
Vioria, Illona, Anja - all dropped out, all married, all mothers to five or more children by the time I left high school.
After high school I went to college - first to nursing school, where I thought it was acceptable to my cultural heritage AND to non-Romani - women’s work with mostly other women.
I was wrong. It was hard. I didn’t fit in. I had no idea about studying at that level and being away from my family. I was kicked out after a year because I wasn’t “meeting standards of conduct” for my program - in other words, I was lost and afraid and no one was helping me.
I got a low paid shop job after that. Petru and Leon, the boys picked by our families had married other girls by then. I was rapidly becoming degeš (unclean) through no wish of my own, but all the travel by myself, living away from my family, and education was making me undesirable.
I attempted college four more times before I came to the US.
Only here did I manage to graduate - and only in 2011 - with my bachelors. It was my dream to go on and get a PhD. I wanted to be the first Roma I ever knew with such a degree. I’ve since met some amazing Romani women with PhDs. I’ve since learned that I’m not the kind of person to get a PhD. I’ve since put that dream onto the shelf too, with all the others like dollar store trophies that shine out how hard I tried.
Here I sit, three weeks away from walking across the stage to get my MA degree. Before then, of course, I have comprehensive exams to prove myself - exams for which I feel I haven’t even begun to study (they start in a weeks time and I’m freaking out). I’m drowning in papers I need to finish…
and I still managed to keep a 3.95 GPA… until now.
but I’ve been thinking… what does that really matter? I’ve proven I am as capable (maybe even more so) than non-Romani in the same environment if given the same chances and support. I’ve worked so hard to prove that a Gypsy woman can be educated and be more than a stay-at-home mother/cleaner/wife. I’ve fought bigotry and racism in my own program, but have been forced to compromise time and again (no thesis; no presentations or publications; no conference papers; no teaching experience)…
I feel completely disillusioned with my future and with who I am as a person. I feel I sold out to the Great White Education Machine and I’m about to be unceremoniously spat out the other end…
and what great strides have I made? What great things have I learned? What wonderful jobs do I have lined up for myself?
Nothing at all.
I spent the last 7 years fighting for this; for my BA and my MA. Fighting tooth and nail…. for what? Does it make me a better person? Does it get me to the job I want?
My Papo was right.
"Ko bi džanelas te thovel kher bi o karfa? Savore sam kadaj. Savore sam o karfa thaj amare čhavale sam o kašta"
"Who can build a house without nails? We are all here. We are the nails and our children the wood".
All we need is wood and nails to be happy. A grade, a piece of paper? It doesn’t mean anything and I think I realized that too late.
… and I hate myself for it.
It’s hard to explain. I know other Roma will understand. In order to achieve we are forced to sell-out. Forced to drop our accents, speak in English, write with correct grammar, wear non-Romani clothing and eat non-Romani food. We’re forced to assimilate to be educated,
we’re forced to blend in to try and stand out.
All I keep thinking is,
was it worth it?
To lighten my skin, shorten my skirts, and unbraid my hair?
was it worth it?
To walk away from my traditional family, banish myself from the Roma community, and learn the meanings of all of these big words?
I don’t know anymore.
But, I know I feel lost and alone and ver