In this blog post I`d like to tell you a bit about my family.
My father Graziano used to work as a truck driver for an important Italian trucking company. He drove all over Europe and is a person with lot of knowledge who I look up to a lot. He is now retired and finally can stay relaxed enjoying the tranquillity. My mother Rita instead does the housewife, I really get on well with her, and my sister Denise works as a secretary in a bank besides being mom of a little kid called Omar, my nephew.
Denise and I have always been close. Although she is eight years older than me we have a good relationship and it is lovely to chat with her. My dad is obviously Italian but my mother, even though she was born in Italy, is not. She is a Gypsy of ”SINTI” ethnicity.
Sinti are part of the people called “ROMANY” who don`t have a country but have antique origins, language and traditions from India. Gypsies came to Europe eight hundred years ago but no-one knows why they left their land and despite the fact that so many years have passed, many of them continue to speak their language known as “ROMANY CHIB”.
So I, as well as my sister, can speak two completely different languages.
To tell the truth, the situation is changing nowadays because unfortunately this beautiful language is dying. The reason why there has been a significant decrease in the number of people who speak Romany chib is that young boys no longer feel Gypsies and are attracted to everything that is modern and fashionable. The old customs and traditions are now lost and not long the language will be as well.
The Gypsies were victims of racism and persecuted throughout the centuries all over Europe. They weren’t allowed to speak their language in public, they couldn’t wear their typical clothes and neither could congregate in public places with individuals of their own ethnicity. Moreover, many of them were imprisoned or killed but the worst was during the World War II, when the Nazis killed more than 500,000 Gypsies.
In the course of history, despite all the adversities, they have always been able to overcome any obstacle, but now the technology and globalization are doing what the Nazis weren’t able to do: they are destroying and crumbling the values of all the people.
I have wonderful childhood memories because when my grandmother was still alive, I used to spend all my summers with all our relatives camping with caravans on a piece of land owned by my uncle. I enjoyed staying in that place with all my cousins sleeping in caravan and playing with them. I felt so happy when in the evening everyone was sitting around the fire listening to the elders like my grandmother telling stories about our old traditions and eating typical Gypsy food.
I remember her as an amazing woman, full of energy despite her age with long black hair and typical long Gypsy colored clothes. I loved sharing my time with her when was a child, I wish she was still here. Unfortunately, things changed a lot, my grandmother and all the other elder relatives are no longer alive and for fourteen years no-one has continued doing things of the past anymore; my cousins and I have grown up, some of them are married now and everybody tends to forget our past experiences as well as our past memories and everything that kept us together.
As far as I`m concerned, I want to say that even though the world is changing, my grandmother will always stay in my heart and I have to say thanks to her for everything she has done for me and for all the beautiful memories that she left me.
The future for Gypsies is very uncertain, many live on the margins of society without a regular education, most of them make use of drugs and alcohol and all that was in their culture is slowly disappearing. I really hope one day all this can change in the best.
Alessandro Veronese, Upper-Intermediate B