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I was born in a Gypsy ghetto

21 Mar 2019

illustration by Yuki Haze

Trigger warning: Mentions of trafficking, rape and molestation

In the Gypsy ghetto, I was raised in poverty – dodging hepatitis and racial attacks. I have stab wounds, burn marks and scars from my “homeland”.

A mixed-race transaction of separate parents, I am supposed to feel the pull of both families. I am supposed to feel the pull of my Gypsy family rotting in Eastern European squalor. I am supposed to feel the pull of my white German family flourishing in Berlin grandeur. Supposed to.

Never pulled, only pushed. Pushed from my prostitute Ma, 13 years my senior. Pushed from my proud racist dad, too egotistical to allow me to live without him but too disgusted by my race to fully want me.

Trafficked in for sin as a pre-pubescent Gyp-ling, I carved a home for myself in England. The land that raped a molested girl into submission also gave me the gift of words. The land that taught me how to read and write. The land that gave me an education. The land that gave me healthcare. The land that didn’t tell me I should die on the streets because Gypsies weren’t allowed in their clean buildings. The land that redeemed itself.

Home is where Kemi cooked us jollof rice and begrudgingly cooked me plantain as we whined about our uni assignments. Kemi in her Nigerian defiance carving a career in a white backdrop.

Home is where Candi and Jackie told me I had a talent I shouldn’t waste. My university lecturers, women who were as white as the men that protest to cut out our wombs to stop us breeding more Gypsies.  Candi Miller’s gorgeous face telling me “I am”in a South African tongue. Jackie Pieterick swinging her lustrous mane of hair in American glory as she forced me to have faith in my own words. Women that made me.

Home is where I walk down the street listening to Xmal Deutschland wearing a nath and my G Y P S Y status proud.

Home is when I wear my two plaits with flowers and shop for raspberry sorbet in a leopard print velour tracksuit.

Home is a smile from a cashier as she scans my items instead of recoiling and shouting for security to remove the Gypsy.

Home is where people refuse to believe Gypsies are treated so horrifically. Refuse to believe we are raped, beaten, forcibly sterilised, forced to live in squalor!

Home is where there is a divide. Those that detest me for daring to be born in a different land and those that accept me as another human striving for dignity.

Home is where you want my name G Y P S Y but you don’t want my scars. You want my culture but not my presence. You want my blood – not my existence.

Shayal celebrating her promotion with expensive champagne and samosas. Raji celebrating her Year 11 class, bursting with inner-city statistics, going from D to A in their GCSEs with shisha pipes and kebabs.

Darlene teaching me how to use the embroidery machine whilst singing along to the Bay City Rollers and scolding me in Punjabi. This is home.

Home is where I can look upon my brown sisters working as doctors, lawyers, teachers, bankers, artists and free.

From gal-dem’s second print issue on the topic of home