Ilija Jovanović: The Lost (From Gurbet Romani)

      Ilija Jovanović was born in 1950 in Rumska, Serbia, the only child of a penurious Romani family. He worked as a farmhand until 1971 when he moved to Vienna and worked first in a metal factory, then as a pharmacist's assistant. He served as cultural advisor and secretary general of the Romano Centro and in 1999 won Austria's prestigious Theodor-Körner prize for cultural contribution. He died in 2010 after a protracted illness. The Romani text reproduced here, in Gurbeti dialect, is taken from his collection Budžo (Landeck, 2000.)

The Lost
By Ilija Jovanović
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

The tongue that sang our words is lost —
We are a silenced people. 
The world we lived has been killed off —
We are dying people.

When we stay in one pleasant place,
They drive us out.
Our threads are cut to shreds. 
Borders block our every rout.
We do not know anymore where we can go.

To the gadje1 we aren't really people
Of the right kind
Because we are different. 
They hound us over all the world.
We go and we go.
How long? How far? We do not know.


1 - a term for non-Roma, people alien to Romani ways.  

The Original:

Xasardo Them

Xasardi si amarai đilanbadi čhib.
Amen sam bi svatoso them.
Amaro trajo si mudardo.
Amen sam bi trajoso them.

Te ačhilam pe jek kamlo than
traden amen lestar.
E dora si maškar amende čhinđarde,
e granice phanden jek avreste amaro drom.
Amen ni džanas kaj maj dur te džas.

E gadžénđe naj sam manuša sar von,
kaj aver čhande sam.
Traden amen pe sa o them.
Amen džas thaj džas
ni džanas kaj thaj dži kaj.

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