Tag Archives: Romani

Mighty Like A Virus

I hardly ever get sick, which means that on the rare occasions I am sidelined by a random plague, I’m convinced I’m at death’s door.

You can laugh if you like but, I have a healthy fear and respect for that tiny, mighty lifeform known as the virus. It doesn’t care what your plans are or how many items you have on your to-do list.  It just moves in, sets up housekeeping in your bloodstream, turns on some music and does the cha-cha all over your poor, feverish body.  If you’re unlucky, it will invite its friends to the party. And, frequently, there’s not much you can do about it until it gets bored and saunters off to find a new victim.

Lovely.

On the bright side, once you get your appetite back and can actually sit upright without feeling dizzy, you can indulge yourself in a good book without feeling too guilty about not being at your post. I’m spending my convalescence with Zoli, a historical novel about a Romani woman who is expelled from her family for revealing too much of their history and culture, though poetry and song, to the gadje (non-Romani). The narrative winds back and forth through time and place, beginning in Slovakia circa 2003, where a newspaper reporter searches the Roma camps for news of the mysterious Zoli, a legend in literary circles.  Loosely based on the life of the  poet Papusza, Zoli is equal parts beauty and heartbreak, and has definitely made me want to read more about Romani history and culture.

I do wish authors would stop using the word “gypsy,” though, in their book titles and descriptions.  From what my research tells me, many Roma people find it offensive, and yet its use persists.  Perhaps language, too, is like a virus that cannot be actively defeated, but only stubbornly waited out?

Leigh Anne

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