A Gypsy’s Book of Revelation

Picture number one: I lay in a box and rest. Forever. I thought western science would find some clever way to dispose of my body. It turns out western science doesn’t attend to the dead, and so I end up impaled on the horns of a dilemma like Manolete on the horns of a bull: I rot or I get burned; either way I end up in a container. Whether this or the other has been the subject of many late-night talks with my daughter Yelena: Well, Mamita, you can’t have it both ways. “Why not?” I say, because “Why not?” is in my blood — or was. In the end I choose fire because I can be burnt in their midst, and rotting is a lonely enterprise.

It turns out western science doesn’t attend to the dead, and so I end up impaled on the horns of a dilemma like Manolete on the horns of a bull: I rot or I get burned…

Picture number two: The crematorium is a plain building painted in white. The whiteness of it makes my children squint their eyes under the noon sun. I am not driven in a hearse; I am walked there; my box held high on their shoulders. It hits me that dead bodies are walked just like dogs are walked, depending on our beloved for just a sniff of air. Luckily, it wouldn’t occur to my children to drive me through the crematorium any more than through a coffee shop or a pharmacy. We’re not a drive-through people and we’re late.

We squish together through the bare wooden door that’s doubled to accommodate boxes like mine. Behind us, a man who doesn’t belong gets in, but no one pays attention. The service is about to begin and I am ready.

Picture number three: My children watch the man reading the lines I wrote for them. They’re very surprised. I didn’t tell them I could write, and they always assumed I was illiterate. They wouldn’t even know I could use such word as “illiterate.” “Mamita!” “Who would have thought!” I can read on their foreheads. Well, little ones, I learned. Why not?

I don’t visualize the reader, only the vague outline of a light-skinned man. Confirmed he’s not one of us; the man is a Gadjo.

I can hear his voice with clarity. It makes the music of a train, which is the kind I want to hear when I’m gone. He’s trying hard, like he should. From my casket I can smell his fear building up as he reads — fear that we will kidnap and steal his children, fear that we have magical powers. Fear makes him good. The man is reading for his life. Who could do a better job?

Picture number four: All of my children have dressed up for the occasion. My boys got their hair gelled and neatly combed back. I can see traces of the comb, like narrow trenches ploughed on their heads. They’re not light on the gel; it’s tradition, something that cannot be shampooed easily. It doesn’t matter that I don’t like it, that I like their hair unruly and puffy on their skull. I don’t get to be picky, even for my cremation. It’s a package. What I have is a choice of perspective; I can open my brain to different angles of the room and outside of it. If perspective is something I can still have, then I don’t mind those images.

I see their eyes darted on the white man. He stumbles on my lines; he coughs in his fist to regain confidence. They’re toying with him as much as I’m toying with them. It’s a danse macabre, and we’re a people of good dancers. Everybody knows that.

Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4 View All

Printed from Cerise Press: http://www.cerisepress.com

Permalink URL: http://www.cerisepress.com/05/13/a-gypsys-book-of-revelation

Page 1 of 4 was printed. Select View All pagination to print all pages.