I became one of them

Author: Ivana Simikova
Location: Brno
This is my own story. It dates back to my childhood, and my memories of it are still vivid and important to me.
I used to spend the summer holidays with my grandmother.
The Romani population in her village was quite large and had a positive impact on the life of the place. The Roma lived differently, but everybody accepted them and considered them interesting. For example, the wedding of the local Gypsy leader’s daughter was attended by the entire village.
When I was little, maybe before I went to school, my parents took me one day to the local swimming pool. There were lots of people there, including one very large Romani family with a little girl. They placed their blankets away from the others. I was somehow attracted to the girl, but I was also sorry for her being so lonely.
So we became friends. We went swimming together. And when we got out of the pool one of the women, maybe her mother, approached us with a blanket to dry us off.
I became a bit shy. The thought of being wrapped in somebody else’s blanket was a little unpleasant to me. But she kept inviting me to come over and join them. I think I felt I couldn’t turn her down, so I let her wrap me in the blanket together with the girl.
I was struck by heavy odor: my head started spinning. So that’s what people meant when they say that Gypsies smell different.
I was dazed – but it was not unpleasant. And I felt that they accepted me and that I became one of them.

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