Out by dawn


They always say we can’t stay rooted, that our blood craves travel.

Last night our three weeks here were gone; eviction-note, a slap in the face:

“Out by dawn” ,

as if we didn’t know. We always know in advance.

Kissed by rime this meadow; another place we’d never call our home, but it was a place where I yearned to settle.

When our carts moved slowly through the village I saw the curtains in your window move. White — your hand unclaimed by gold.

Yet a shard of heart remaining, as in every piece of land where Romani are guests

Copyright Sandra Cook

Copyright Sandra Cook


To me this place reminded me of breaking a camp early in the morning. I heard a story in the radio recently about Romani people and how they have and are being treated, and how the myths about their vagrancy has been used against them. Here in Sweden for instance they were not allowed to stay more than three weeks at one place. Whenever I hear a romantic gypsy song I start to think about how it would feels having to leave a place every three weeks. For some reason they have long seemed a group of people where racism is still alive and accepted.

Friday Fictioneers is a group of people who weekly write stories in 100 words to the same picture under the management of Rochelle Wissoff-Fields. Every week about 100 stories are being written on the same subject. I try to visit as many as I can, but sometimes it takes a little time for me to return.

111 responses to “Out by dawn

  1. when you are not allowed to put down roots, you can def feel blown by the wind…this is different than the choice to follow your wanderlust…i would at least crave a place to call my own…

  2. It is hard to understand the way of life that is so different, especially when you don’t make an effort to try and look at it from their point of view. I’ve encountered many Gipsies in my life and they are people with virtues and faults, just like all of us. But with an added burden of a prejudice.

  3. Bjorn, I really liked you beautifully highlighted out a facet of gypsy life that we often don’t consider–that some (perhaps more than some) would like a home, a place to stay. I wonder if in your first line, “that for our blood craves travel” the “for” should be removed.

    janet

  4. A wistful write, but with some bitterness, “we always know in advance”. My great aunt, always the adventuresome soul, married a “gypsy”, romani. they travelled for several years in such fashion until one day, her brother gave them land on his farm. They never moved from that place again, always busy and happy, living in the moment and with nature. they are buried on that land along with their children. He would tell us tales of accusations, prejudice. He was darkly handsome. I can see his face while I read these words. He at least was able to claim that rime kissed meadow.

      • Yes. I know my great aunt’s husband certainly was happy to settle down. He was illiterate but had a very nimble mind and could fix anything…anything…broken. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he could have gone in, taken a look, and worked on a nuclear reactor. Very darkly handsome, always singing and smiling. he was a dear man.

  5. Interesting idea, to romanticise something which many people fear i.e. travelling folk parking up near their home. Like the language though.

  6. “When our carts moved slowly through the village I saw the curtains in your window move. White — your hand unclaimed by gold.” Love that, Bjorn. It would be hard for me not to settle and truly have a place to call home.

  7. Dear Bjorn,

    This was a poignant and moving story and a perfect evocation of the prompt. Our lives are tethered to our ancestors. Who we are is very much dependent upon where we came from. Your sensitive words have shed light on an age old story. Well done.

    Aloha,

    Doug

  8. This is truly a beautiful melancholic story. I felt as though I was the gypsy being evicted and felt those feelings. Excellent! The images you give us are wonderful.

  9. I love the layers to this story Björn. It certainly remains a form of racism that is acceptable here in Ireland and anywhere else I’ve ever lived too. You have shown the conflict between the inherent need to travel and the ‘slap in the face’ of being forced to move on, and that mysterious person behind the curtains – the forbidden mingling of cultures no doubt frowned upon from both sides.

  10. I loved this one! It contained such knowledge of the task at hand foreshadowed,yet so much passion of the moment in so few words. One is left to mentally inquire of one’s self the main character involved.Very, Very Nice.

  11. You’ve painted some vivid pictures – the curtain moving and the carts through the village. Sounds epic and poetic.

    Lily

  12. The blessings and curses of the eternal road, Bjorn. Well told story. It would be hard, I think, to have no roots and no permanent place to call home, besides the innate distrust that everyone held for them.

  13. This is very touching, Bjorn. I have had my own thoughts on the Romani, but you have gotten into their heart here. It must be SO hard to always be on the road.

  14. This could be a tale of today, or of times past: for Sinti and Roma little has changed. Why can’t we let people live as they like as long as they don’t hurt anyone? There seems no place for nomads in the western world. Excellent story, I loved the language and learned a new word (rimed).

  15. Honestly I had no idea that happens, how horrible!
    I liked how you started the piece saying that they crave travel. I think that it’s something a lot of people feel too, but if you think about it, maybe we feel that way because we know we have roots and a home waiting for us to get back. If everyone was like the Romani and couldn’t settle anywhere, traveling would become a completely different thing.

  16. They always say we can’t stay rooted, that our blood craves travel.

    What a wonderful way to start this piece, even as the gypsies are “asked” to leave. Wonderful take on the prompt.

  17. You’ve described the life of travelling people so beautifully. Your narrator has such a resigned note – “this is the way it is” – though he obviously wishes it were otherwise.

  18. Bjorn, that would be tremendous to have to leave a place every three weeks. To be a guest but never a dweller. You captured it well here.

  19. Romanis are, as you say, still hounded. There were tens of thousands killed by the Nazis but they don’t get remembered like the Jews.

  20. Beautiful story telling, Björn. You have really captured that sense of loss, displacement, judgement… and we, you and I, both seemed to be prompted to think about racism, discrimination… from a lovely photo of frost.
    This line: “White — your hand unclaimed by gold” is gorgeous!

  21. “Yet a shard of heart remaining, as in every piece of land where Romani are guests.” That is positively lyrical, Bjorn.

    Your story is both beautiful and sad. Also very intriguing: I did not figure out what exactly the tale was about, until the last sentence. Well done!

    • Sometimes to leave that to the end.. telling something familiar without mentioning it, is something called defamiliarization, I think if I had said gypsy on the first line, there is a risk that there are those that would see the story through the glasses of romantic myths..

  22. Great story Bjorn. It must be difficult to be wanted by no-one and feared by most. Particularly when there is a young lady with a bandless finger. You captured the futility and inevitability of their life and the loneliness and frustrations of never being able to settle and belong.

  23. You’ve written a very accurate account of the lives of these Romani people. It’s sorrowful to be diminished to being without a homeland.
    They had a program, here in the US, that showed their lives and their customs. I found it interesting that the young girls dress provacatively yet are very formal when they are around young men. Oddly, the teens are married very young – 15 or 16 years old.
    I liked you’re story. : )

  24. A lovely story – a call for understanding. A sweet lost love.
    (Here in the UK travellers are not treated well but there are dilemmas too, for example some traveller children (girls and boys) can have a hard time from their own family if they really want to stay in school and not be taken out early.)

  25. I had no idea about the 3-weeks notice for Romani. That is heartbreaking, as is your fiction here, Björn. There’s a lot of power in the motion of this line, I think: “When our carts moved slowly through the village I saw the curtains in your window move.” It imparts the essence of the Otherness these people feel when they’re being exiled. Very powerful, and a fantastic use of the photo prompt, besides.

      • Fascinating, although sad. Thank you for sharing this information; it’s all too easy for a person (any nationality) to love their country such that they see no faults in it whatsoever. To me, it’s more “patriotic,” loaded word though that is (especially here in the States), to expose the faults to light in hopes of improving them or at least reaching some consensus about what direction to move.

  26. Thanks for sharing this, Bjorn. Sadly, one doesn’t have to look too long or hard to find the heartbreaking reality of racism alive and rampant in our world. I’ve heard much about the Romani people (Is it considered deprecating to refer to them as “gypsies”?). In fact, one of my former pastors, who had adopted two dark-skinned girls from India, had to leave a mission post in Europe because of hate crimes against his children. So sad.

    Thanks for shedding light on this issue.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

  27. Beautiful story and very poetic. I found it more interesting as it is said that the Roma’s origins lie in north-west India and that their journey towards Europe started between the 3rd and 7th Centuries AD. The Banjaras of India share a lot in common with the Gypsies in terms of their dress, looks and a shared linguistic heritage.

  28. Loved how poetic your writing was. I was a traveling nurse before retirement and found it difficult to move every 3-6 months. I cn’t image having to move every 3 weeks. What a nightmare.:)

  29. It must be terrible to have to move every several weeks, to never have a permanent home. No wonder they’re burdened by the cycle of poverty. Well done as always, Bjorn. 🙂 — Suzanne

  30. Beautifully written, yet sparing prose.
    When I was in my twenties, one of my housemates (an artist) was the son of a Romany gypsy who’d settled for love of a woman. They lived in a council house and seemed happy enough, although I suspected that just sometimes in springtime, his mind would drift off into a bout of nostalgia over his days on the open road.

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