Who has a piece of the broken mirror?

Margita Reiznerova
My father was a storyteller. When the adults came to visit, the children were sent out of the room, and the adults would tell each other stories — fairy tales. Later I realized how clever my father was: how he was using psychology. Of course the children would sneak back in and listen. My father knew we wouldn’t sit and listen if they told us to. But he knew that this way the stories would be heard and could be carried on.
What I’m going to tell you about happened a long time ago, many years ago: when the Roms – or the Gypsies, as you may call them – still lived in their own country.
They were doing very well because their king cared for them as if they were his own children. But the King’s time came, and he had to go to the other world.
He called all the Roms to him and said to them: “Listen to me very carefully, my children: you must not forget what I am telling you. You must pay attention to my words. Very soon I will no longer be with you. When I give myself to the other world, you too will not stay here. You will be driven apart into all the corners of the earth. That is why I am giving you this worthy old mirror.
Be very careful not to break it.
Anytime you don’t know what to do, look in the mirror. The mirror will lead you: it will show you the way. Whenever you look in it, you will know who you are, where you come from, what was and what will be, and where you are going.
As long as you stay together, things will go well for you. Wherever you go, you will be honored because you will bring people joy and blessings. I have taught all of you what my forefathers have taught me, and you will value handwork and hand on your knowledge to people coming later. So value the old, wise ways. If you do not, you will have difficult lives. The worthy old mirror will remind you of the truth. Take good care of it, and be careful that it doesn’t break. If it breaks, you will forget everything that you knew and everything that you knew how to do.”
The king finished speaking, and then died.
The Roms buried their king, carefully wrapped the old mirror in a cloth, took their children, and started on their way.
Together they passed through many countries and cities. Wherever they came, they were welcome because they had such good hearts and let everyone share in their wisdom and their art.
As the Roms wandered on, they came to a beautiful land where people with good hearts and dark skin like them. The Roms stayed in their country and dwelled a long time with them.
But it so happened that one branch of Roms wanted to wander on. So the question was who would keep the mirror: those who were moving on wanted to take the mirror with them.
Then it began.
The Roms began to fight over the mirror, and as they were struggling over the mirror it fell to the ground and shattered into a thousand pieces. When the Roms saw what they had done, they began to struggle and strike each other all the harder.
When the battle ended, everyone tried to find at least a little piece of the mirror.
And then they scattered to all parts of the earth.
The Roms slowly began to forget what they had learned, who they were, and where they came from. And nowhere were they welcome guests.
Whoever had a piece of the mirror lived somewhat better, but those who did not have a piece had a difficult time. They wept more often than they ate.
Today the Roms want to know who they are, where they come from, and where they are going. So they search and ask each other, “who has a piece of the broken mirror?”
A lot of water has flowed by, but the Roms are still waiting.
So whichever of you has a piece, let’s put it together with the others and make the mirror whole again. Hurry and bring the smallest piece, so that the mirror can be whole again. _________
So hurry and bring whatever piece YOU have, and help us make the mirror whole again!!
You can make your comments and tell your stories right here, right after this reminder.
OR you can do that after taking part in a discussion of this story: the next entry in this menu, “I not only see thereflection: I also see behind it.”
But PLEASE give us your piece of the mirror, either by scrolling down right here and typing it in, or by responding in the windows provided after “I not only see….”
[You may also be interested in knowing that Margita left the Czech Republic to apply for asylum elsewhere in Europe not long after she told this story in Prague in October, 1995 in a theater-piece produced by The Stories Exchange Project. She is now living in Belgium.
Would you like to know more about this?
Ask us!! But be sure to give us your e-mail address in your response.]

4 Responses to “Who has a piece of the broken mirror?”

  1. I would like to either ask your permission and/or the authors’ permission to print an excerpt of this story in the magazine ARts Dialogue. This is a non-profit artists magazine aimed at creating dialogue in the arts / across disciplines / cultures. see our website for what this is:

    on the otherhand if someone would like to email me material in the form of an article we could print this about the stories exchange project. Just email me what you think is the best approach. regards ,Sonja

  2. I would like to invite Margita Reiznerova to a conference. Can you tell me how to contact her

  3. Mandi Rom. I am Romany. My family is from Romania though, not Czech republic. Are you willing to have my stories here? If not is there another forum for me? I am happy to have found this forum. Please e-mail me with your answer.

  4. Perhaps inside we are all the same; our souls long for resolution, as we struggle to solve the puzzle of our hearts. We all have to look inside ourselves, because that is where the answers are.

    I thought that this was what the story was about. It is a “true” story because it is about all of us wherever we come from and whatever life we lead. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

  5. I would like to ask the author’s permission to use this story in the educational programme I am conducting. This programme is to reduce the negative stereotype of Roma among polish students.

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