The story, from the collection Velvet Blues: The Rough Nineties in Romani Short Stories, is a tragicomic morality piece about a Romani man who defied the laws of Romipen (Romaniness) and, through his greed, brought bad luck upon his family. It illustrates Roma’s high integration into the Czech environment after their post-war arrival from Slovakia. It shows how pursuing material ballast has replaced traditional Romani values: mutual help and solidarity learned from their non-Romani neighbours. Last but not least, this text, unusual for Romani writing, reflects the Velvet Revolution’s fateful impact on the lives of Czech Roma; rather than relief, they felt insecure, fearful for their lives, and afraid of moving to the lowest social class.
Published by Kher, 2021
© Kateřina Andršová
Gejza Demeter (1947–2015), a Romani writer, grew up in Slovakia but went to secondary school in the Czech Republic, where his parents lived. After three and a half years, he left his medical studies and settled in Neratovice, where he held various professions. After 1991, Demeter worked as a reporter for the daily newspaper Expres. He wrote in Romani and Czech and published in magazines and books. In 1992, a short story triptych, The Spirits Among Us (O mule maškar amende), appeared, and in 2013 a book of Romani fairy tales, Garden of Eden (Le develeskere bar).