She really put all of herself into it

Author: Martin Zaplatilek, Brno
Location: Stories Exchange Project Workshop #4
EastWest Institute
The lady in Hradec Kralove who told me this story died two weeks after she told it to me. That was really strange. When she was telling me the story, I could feel that she really put all of herself into it. I could see that she was very ill. Maybe she thought this would be the last time she would have a chance to tell her story. So her death affected me a lot. It was really very special that it happened this way.
"My nephew Honza is from a mixed marriage. His mother was white, a Czech, his father black, a Rom. But Honza has his father’s skin color, and other children let him know about that from nursery school on. He was always on the margins of the children’s and the teachers’ interest.
Around the time that he started going to school, his parents’ marriage fell apart. But as Honza was growing up he began to miss a family environment. His grandmother stopped being enough for him, and he finished elementary school with poor results. Other children’s parents condemned him, and teachers reacted badly to him, and he began to hang out more with the children of Romany families who didn’t have the best reputations in Hradec Králové. Soon these friends had formed a gang that specialized in car theft. It didn’t take long before Honza was on his way from the court to a juvenile correctional institution. Though one of his friends thought he was the weakest member of the gang: apparently he was too sensitive.
After he was let out, Honza went into the army, where he completed a carpentry course. Shortly after leaving the service, he got a teaching certificate in his field. But he soon stopped devoting himself to this work and, after working sporadically at various temporary jobs and helping out in an agricultural cooperative, he fell into thievery again and was given an unconditional sentence. When the end of his prison term was near, through friends I got him a job as an assistant at the Hradec hospital.
At first Honza did not want to accept this offer, but he allowed himself to be convinced and became the first Romany hospital assistant there. He got used to the work surprisingly quickly and the doctors and nurses began to value him for his industriousness. After four years of he became Head Assistant at the surgery clinic, and married one of the nurses. He is now completing a course to become a specialized orderly for the outpatient surgery.”

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