My heart flew out of my body and hovered

Author: David Ferko
Location: Usti nad Labem
I’ll tell you something that happened to me.
I was employed by a company that had a social gathering every year for the employees. We were invited for dinner to a restaurant. We had a great time, drank a little, and – , it was all very nice. It was around eleven o’clock at night and we were heading home. I was on foot, by myself: I lived nearby.
On the way I ran into some skinheads. I thought they wouldn’t notice me, because my friends always were telling me that I don’t look like a Rom, but like some kind of foreigner: “David, you’re a total Italian,” they used to say.
But I didn’t escape their attention.
Suddenly they were all standing around me, and one of them held a knife to my throat. I was alone and there were six of them. I had no idea how it would all turn out, or what I was supposed to do. My heart flew out of my body and hovered somewhere above my head. I was very afraid of them.
I collapsed.
Ever since I was little I have suffered states of collapse. I felt the knife beneath my throat the whole time. I was terribly afraid. I covered my face with my hands. They cursed me, called me black gob, black pig and said I belonged in the gas chamber.
Suddenly one of them asked me my name.
“David, ” I told him.
He asked if I was David Ferko, and if I didn’t by any chance recognize him. I said no, but he said he was Marek P. Suddenly I remembered who he was. We knew each other.
He told his friends to leave me be, that he knew me and that I was from a decent family. We knew each other from school. When we were little we were friends.
So they let me walk home. If he hadn’t been there, I don’t know where I’d be today. I guess I wouldn’t be alive anymore.
I’ll never forget this as long as I live.
And when I had told this story to other people, they said it would be interesting to ask Marek for his story. So I did, and here it is:
“David Ferko was my friend in grammar school. He’s a Rom, but we really understood each other – and we enjoyed ourselves together.
Once we went on a school trip, to see some nature. They divided us up, four to a room. David was a very shy boy. He didn’t know which bed to take. There were two bunks. He wanted to sleep up top, so I told him to go ahead and lie down there, that it didn’t bother me: I could sleep on the bottom just as well. The other boys looked at me kinda strange for being friends with a gypsy. But it didn’t even occur to me: I just accepted him as he was. We were always together, because we understood each other.
Our good friendship ended when we left eighth grade. I joined the skinhead movement.
You’re probably going to ask why I started to hate Roms. It was because I had the feeling that they had used me enough, and also because they beat up my sister so badly that she was in the hospital for three months.
A little while ago I met David again. It was at night. He was walking by himself, probably going home, and my friends suddenly attacked him.
But I remembered what we had been through together, and I didn’t want them to beat him up. I told them to let him go and not hurt him.
Life goes on. Now whenever we happen to meet, we have a nice talk and remember our beautiful, trouble-free childhood.”

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