Cry, Cry, Cry

In Current reading, Local projects, Music, proto drafts, Revision, The Crab Walker on July 4, 2014 at 12:08 pm

A friend of mine who knows I sometimes work with people known here as “gens du voyage” (road people) offered me a novel by Alice Ferney called Grâce et Dénuement (Grace and Destitution). I read it yesterday afternoon. Followed the well-written, well-documented and moving story of a librarian who does weekly readings to the children at an illegal Gypsy encampment. Recognized the bitter price one of the little girls pays for admittance into a local school. Nodded at the evictions. Shaked my head at the worse than crummy living conditions where an old woman’s dearest wish is real wood for the campfire fuel, to replace garbage and smoldering discarded car seats. Put down the book and cried as an emotional and physical release.

Once the limbic system calmed down, I couldn’t fail to notice a mistake I would have made, had I written something similar myself. Although Ferney distinguishes the Gypsies from the Roms, she uses the words Manouche and Gitan interchangeably. My gitano friend set me straight on that one when I committed the same faux pas, two years ago. “Non, Lucie,” he explained, and mapped out three streams on the table. “We, les gitans, came up to Spain through Egypt. Les manouches settled in Germany. And the Roms – well, they’re from Romania, yes? The name says it.” My gitano friend feels for the manouches and the Roms the way a stalwart of the Church of England considers papists, or a Sunni talks about a Shi’ite. My friend is thrilled when I sing No tengo lugar y no tengo paisaje. I can imagine his grimace if I then segued into Bubamara in a We Are the World type medley.

Never mind. My gitano friend took the theoretical test this morning. The one he must pass to receive, what? A passport? No. Something way more important: a driving permit. He raced over here in close to a dead faint, repeating that  he passed the test. He’s convinced of it.  Rattled off his response to each and every one of the forty questions on the test. He’s promised me a party to end all parties when he gets official confirmation.

A daunting prospect. There’s honor involved when Gitanos party. I’d better get in more slow laps at the pool.

Meanwhile, in story and in my brain, Johnny Cash sings “I taught the weeping willow how to cry, cry, cry…” (Big River).

Kadima? OK.


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