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Panorama Mama

 

 

Panorama Mama page 27 Ernest Samuel Llime

lived in. The Communist government did not approve of the gypsies' nomadic ways and they were attempting to ground them by making it difficult to travel to other locations without permits, as well as creating a police surveillance branch that monitored all dwellings. In this case a whole gypsy tribe was assigned an address with a number of very small connected railroad-style apartments. These were similar to the ones that me and my parents lived in and I was told that the whole area between (and including) the park and the farmers market, used to belong to some rich boier(landowner) and that the railroad-style low buildings where originally used as stables and servant dwellings. The gypsies used to ply all kinds of itinerant trades like knife-sharpening, pot re-covering, rag-trading, busking and fortune-telling.

     One fortune-teller used to pass through our little alley once a week or so and try to hustle a couple of lei (Romanian currency.) She used to dress in colorful layers and hide her hair in a kerchief in the manner of older gypsy women, but I think she was only somewhere on the down slope of twenty. She looked quite beautiful but had disconcerting smile due to the fact that two of her teeth were covered in some kind of silvery metal. She called herself Madam Zorica and she was pretty good at her trade. One time she told my mom that she was going to go on a long trip over the sea, which for many reasons, seemed like science-fiction at the time but turned out to be quite true. I also heard that she used to ask married women to put a bit of salt on her cards before she read them - one time she asked this younger girl to sprikle the salt at which the girl protested that she was a virgin and didn't have to do it - Madam Zorica said, that's OK just do it anyway if you'd like a true reading - at which the girl blushed and ran away.

     On my way back from school, I used to pass right in front of the gypsy place and I noticed that some of my school mates used to walk into the yard once in a while so one day my curiosity compelled me to walk in as well. The first thing I saw a bit to the left of the entrance, was a tent and the door-flap lifted at once revealing Madam Zorica - it was as if

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