SHORT STORIES: by Patrik Čonka

'Romipen' / Being a Rom
Translated from the Romany by Karolína Ryvolová

When my uncle’s daughter died, he was already old and unwell. Some days he just lay in bed, because he could not walk.

On the day of the burial, his children prepared a car, which was meant to take him on the funeral procession from their house to the cemetery and back. It was a kilometre and a half away.

But the old uncle surprised not only his children but also others, when he said: 'I’m not coming in the car, I’ll walk the way you should do at a funeral.' But how, when he cannot walk, I wondered to myself.

His children did not have to think hard to come up with an idea. They heaved the uncle onto the shoulders of one of them, who carried his dad from their house to the cemetery and back.

I had never seen anything like that before. With great dignity and honour, they carried the uncle to the coffin. No one found it odd, no one laughed.

I finally realized I knew what romipen, being a Rom, means.     




The Morning
Translated from the Romany by Karolína Ryvolová

The last two years have been the same. Grey, drenched in smoke from cigarettes, pointless. I’m opening my eyes, and through the mist of sleep I’m looking at the flaking wall. I turn around and the sound of the bed disturbs the mouse which has come here from God knows where and which is just now eating my old bread. I’m looking at the wall and I’m thinking of Marika. The whore. A letter from her is lying on the table among scraps of food. I haven’t opened it yet. I don’t feel like it.

A racket in the corridor interrupts my train of thought. The neighbour is giving Fanda a bollocking. Fanda is the new one who she’s picked up in some dirty bar.

It’s raining. I get up and go to the bog. It’s been clogged for the last two days. Why bother fixing it. Who for. Outside, I can hear the shouting of the kids going to school. Brats. A stranger’s face in bad need of a shave is staring at me from the mirror. I run my palm across my face. I should get a wash and look for work. What for, though. Fuck this life!

I’m returning to bed and I pick up her letter, opening it along the way. 'I have no money for the kids.' Always the same. Money, money, money. The slut. She’s stolen my kids and all she wants is money. As if I haven’t given her enough already. Curse this life! She says she’s gonna take me to court. Let her come back to me and then I’ll give her everything, but as it is – nothing.         

I saw her yesterday. With the old guy. She was laughing and calling him Pepa. And he was calling her Majka. Urrgh! She used to hate it. From me. He got the little 'uns some sweets. Pah! She says he’s got a job. Why wouldn’t he, since he’s white! If I were white, I’d also have one. If I had a car, I could make money with Ferko. He knows how to make money. Got more money than the gadje. Not only that, he gives them orders! Ferko is a good guy.

Gotta get up. I’ve got to, I’ve got to, I’ve got to! Oh, screw it...







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