It’s black and white

Author: Hana Kozurikova
Location: Libice nad Cidlinou
One day when I was on my way home from a friend’s house I saw a pond by the side of the road and decided to take a dip.
When I’d hit the grass to catch some sun, I saw a young couple trying to convince their little girl to take a ride in a small inflatable boat.
The scene was interrupted by a bunch of Roma who had also decided to enjoy the day by the pond. I knew some of them from when I’d worked at the City Hall as a Romany assistant in the social services department. Their kids were attracted by the boat and wanted to take a ride, too. I nodded at one of the mothers, Danuse, whom I remembered from elementary school.
The group was making a lot of noise speaking and shouting in the Romany language. The little girl – her father called her Veronika – was just standing there. She didn’t look too happy when Danuse’s kid got hold of the boat and demanded a ride. I glanced at the parents and saw that the father was on the alert.
Danuse turned in our direction and, in the Slovak Romany dialect, asked what the kid’s name was.
She seemed to be expecting me to answer. "Veronika,” I said.
Then I heard Danuse ask Veronika whether she was interested in having a boat ride together with her little daughter.
Veronika just stood there quietly.
I was afraid to look at the parents. But Danuse lifted Veronika and sat her in the boat. This was not going to end well, I thought.
In just a second, though, Danuse had both kids safely in the boat. She rocked them and they laughed. The parents look contented. And Danuse chattered on in both Romany and Czech.
I started to get ready to leave. On my way out, I heard Danuse scream in my direction. How could I possibly have left behind both the kid and the boat?
Without saying a word, I pointed at the real parents. Now it was her turn to be taken by surprise. Eyes wide open, she stared at the couple. She was speechless.
I left them all behind and drove away, but I still laugh when I remember this. Life is very colorful, right? It’s not black and white: it’s black-and-white.

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