The Air That Lingers About Every Roma

It was a long summer day, having gone through an exam, distant from my residence, exhausted as I was, I had to hire a cab to take me back home. Having been in a bad mood that day, I didn’t insist on picking a driver, I usually skip any melanin-rich drivers in this country, mainly because prior experience taught me that they would pull malicious tricks on me as soon as they start driving. I reached a line of transport vehicles, and saw that the price indicated on the door was within the legal norms. Without further ado, I told the individual driving the address I intend to reach, and waited for him to start the car, and drive.

For a moment I turned my face to the driver to ask if it will take long to reach there. To my surprise he was a Romani! But that was not a great concern, considerable time had already passed and nothing out of the ordinary happened. That stirred my curiosity, I wanted to know more about this individual, and particularly why he didn’t attempt to extort me so far, as his peers have before. While this Romani fellow was concentrated on the road, he asked me about my exam, to which I responded “It was cabbage” i.e. I did very badly, he then told me that he had to study for his driving exam and that the driving manual was quite difficult for him. Upon hearing that I thought that he probably wasn’t very bright, or didn’t have a strong will to keep him going.

He immediately proved my assumption erroneous, by mentioning that he was living with his wife and child in an apartment “It was very noisy” he said “I used to lock myself in the bathroom and read the manual” he added not long after. I asked him how long he had been married “I was 15 when I got married, so probably about 10 years ago” I was surprised that he was married at such a young age. I inquired if he had the resource, home or employment to raise a family back then. He shook his head “We lived in my parents house together, even though we were already too many, we were able to accommodate each other at home” These were part of the traditions that the Romani people held on to. They were an essential reason, for which the Romani were not able to fully integrate into the larger civilized society.

I asked him why he chose to become a driver in the first place, if by chance, he had a passion for driving all day long “There is always that look that people give you because you’re different. If I chose to work in a store for example, whenever something is stolen, all eyes would be on me.” he then added ” A good example would be my cousin in the neighboring town. He was accused of robbing valuables from a hotel room where he worked as a cleaner. If he had stolen those valuables his family would have seen benefit from it but they didn’t. I know because I help them pay their bills” I could see the strains on his face, what he told me seemed quite a disturbing matter for him. “And to answer your question, working as a driver provides you with some independence and since the cab firms are not responsible for lost objects, people won’t always blame me for their incompetence, just because I am a Romani”

I soon arrived at my destination, there were no tricks, only an intriguing conversation. It had become clear to me that moment, that unlike what is known by many (including I), there were in fact honest, hard working Romani individuals that could be trusted, though their traditions hold back their integration into society.

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