Going back to India

A Workshop Script by Robbie McCauley in collaboration with Ethela and Ilona Ferkova, Ondrej Gina, Margita Reiznerova, Hana Syslova, and Miroslav Mencl
First performed in Czech and Romany atthe Roxy Experimental Space, PragueOctober 12, 13 and 14, 1995


How was it when grandfather wanted to go back to India — to his fatherland? ILONA:
I was already fourteen. My father was bothered by people scorning Gypsies, and always trying to humiliate us. Czechs often said to us:
Go back where you came from.
That made my father suffer. Then he found out — I don’t know where from — that we Romanies had come from India. He was so happy when he found that out.
He thought and talked about it constantly, and he wanted to know more.
And he began to think about going back to India.
All the Romanies laughed at him. Some of them thought he was crazy. But he didn’t mind.
One time he had a fight with the local Town Hall about the flat we lived in. It was small and wet. But they wouldn’t help us at the Town Hall. My father saw that as discrimination, because many Czechs lived in better flats than ours, but the Town Hall gave those people new flats anyway. Whereas they refused to help us.
So one day he decided to protest – and the way he protested was very unusual for that time.
He took a bunch of children, and put some of them on a little wagon that he pulled around the square. He had the children shout:
We want to go back to our fatherland!
The men at the local Town Hall got scared to death because nobody did anything like that before. They went to see my father right away to ask what all this meant. ONDREJ:
I want to move to India because Romanies are treated very unfairly here!
It was in the Sixties, and that time everyone thought twice before making any public protest. Maybe because it was so unusual and because he was an uneducated Romany, they offered my father the chance to move to India. Of course he didn’t go, and our lives went on. But the Romanies stopped laughing at him.
ONDREJ walks proudly across the space.