It’s a good thing to be a gypsy

Author: Katka Holubova
Location: Brno
This happened to Marta when she was ten. She was in the fifth grade.
They were learning a poem by Karel Jaromir Erben. Marta was very sensitiveabout one verse: "Let the Gypsies finally be quiet.”
Marta was ashamed to say that.
When she recited the poem in class, the teacher had to correct her for mispronouncing the Czech word for Gypsies: instead of “Cikan” she said “Cigan.”
But Marta could not say what the poem said: it just did not feel right. So when she was supposed to recite it again, she just kept silent. The teacher said she would call on her again next time.
But at home her father helped. He said to Marta: “What are you going to say? If they want you to pronounce it their way, say it their way. Don’t be afraid. You’re a Gypsy” – Cigan, he said. “What’s wrong with that? Be glad that Erben remembered us Gypsies and put us into his poem.”
Marta answered: “You know it’s there to curse the Gypsies, not to say anything nice about them.”
But her father said that it was a good thing to remind people of the Gypsies’ existence, regardless of what was said. “We have our fears and other people have theirs. Erben got the idea of scaring people by saying that the child is as noisy as the Gypsies. Think of your mom, the way she speaks. To some people it seems like shouting: her voice is very loud. To white people Gypsy speech may sound like shouting. But that’s nothing to be ashamed of. And you did nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a good thing to be a Gypsy. Or am I a bad person, someone to be ashamed of?”
So Marta understood. She accepted the fact that she was a Gypsy, that she was different from other people. Not only did she look different: she WAS different.
The funny thing is that later she won an inter-school competition with this troublesome poem.________________
16 May 2002
Gabriela TomasovaI don´t knopw how you came to an opinion that Gypsies are thiefs. I am aGypsy and all I have ever stolen was a ten crown coin from my mum´s wallet.And I confessed immmediately when I came back from school. I have beengrowing up in a family that doesn´t have to steal to live comfortably. Idon´t know what bad experiences you have with Gypsies, but next time whenyou write – try to write the name of the person who hurt you. Not all thepeople are the same. I don´t have anything against you but try to be moresincere to the Gypsies you meet.

No Responses to “It’s a good thing to be a gypsy”

  1. it touched us dearly it hasnt left my head i have been crying myself to sleep about it and i wanna know how i can help??

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