Lake Balaton, in North-West Hungary, was chosen by the Gypsies to set up their winter camp. It was strategically located with many villages nestling around the lake offering the nomads food and work.
Winter for the Gypsies has always been a critical season, and many times to survive, some gypsies felt free to ‘chore’ (stealing/borrowing) on nearby farms, helping themselves to fowls, eggs, rabbits, or whatever they could find.
That winter, at the encampment, saw life sensibly slowing down keeping the gypsies around the campfire and inside their wagons. The men busied themselves producing woodcraft, forging horseshoes and blacksmithing useful items, and jewelry making. Those articles were easily exchanged with the locals for more necessary food and forage. But that particular dry winter found the Gypsies busy, helping the local farmers, with some of their miraculous medicines, to eradicate an unusual mice infestation from the grain silos.
The Gypsye’s women, as usual, kept busy with the local women foretelling the future, reaching the apex of their popularity, finding their reputation had preceded them, opening doors, and receiving friendly welcomes and some necessary coins.
Joko, that winter was sad and taciturn. He felt the heaviness of the grave responsibilities for the welfare of his own people. Smoking his pipe, melancholically withdrawing into his thoughts, he kept wondering for the futility of his entire life.
He thought that life has never been generous with him. He missed the warm of a happy family, with an adored wife and the joy of many sons and daughters.
Therefore, at this time in life, he felt to be a lonely man, and missed the joy of grandchildren.
In his loneliness, his thoughts were nostalgically returned to the past memories when Marika was alive. Closing his eyes he could see her and remembered those words she said that night and the way she looked at the sky, glancing at the Little Bear constellation.
Yes, that constellation burned incessantly into the sky above and was the only tangible connecting point with her and capable of resurrecting her memory. He was sure that Marika was, at the same time, looking back and thinking of him. She was the one who asked him to look into the sky whenever he thought of her, and in that way she would be with him, holding hands and keeping their promises of love, like had been their first night together. That was the only tangible connection left for him, to feel close to his beloved Marika.
On those lonely nights, he called and talked to her loudly so his voice would reach her where she was resting. Joko mentally could magically recreate the old times, seeing his adored wife sitting next to him, and smiling back.
It was a winter day like this just twelve years ago, when he lost her and the baby boy, at the time she was ready to give life. That was her final act of love for him. That baby boy had been the only one she had been able to carry to the end of her pregnancy and the one they wanted so much.
The many times they had tried before, their dream of having a family had miserably ended in miscarriages, in the early months of pregnancy.
None of the many herbal remedies, prepared by Gypsies women for her had worked the miracle. But finally and miraculously she carried a child alive in her womb, and now the time of delivery had arrived.
Joko, revived in his memory that last day with Marika. He clearly remembered her happiness to finally be a mother. They had camped in the usual area that the gypsies used for a long time, near Lake Balaton. Marika had been held in the tent where gypsies’ women are confined to give birth.
The delivery was announced with the breaking of the waters. Those were the last minutes that the midwife allowed Joko to comfort Marika. She was visibly in pain and holding Joko’s hand, told him, “Soon you will be a proud father and your descendance guarantee. I’m sure it will be a baby boy. Don’t you see how big I am? He can only be a boy.”
She was right. But the baby was too big, and difficulties arose, and she had a long battle in trying to deliver him. She fought with all her energy against destiny for the next three days. On the second day she felt the strain and hour after hour, her will became weaker and exhaustion was evident leaving Marika incapable of fighting. Over the days she lost too much blood and her fate was sealed. Marika finally lost consciousness and was too weak to fight for her baby and her own life. Her battle was soon over.
Joko buried them the next morning in the depth of the beech forest nearby. To protect their bodies, from the nocturnal predators, he moved a large stone over the grave.
To recognize the site of the grave he carved on the stone the stars of the Little Bear Constellation, as a symbol of their love.
Joko was now silently crying. Marika had been the only love in his entire life and the reason why he missed her so much. He never thought of marrying again even though a few women of the clan showed interest in him.
He decided to go early in the morning into the woods to visit them, to commemorate that sad anniversary.
Joko thought, “Tomorrow is the twelfth anniversary of when Marika and the baby died. I’ll spend the day in the forest with them. There are many things which I want to tell my Marika. For a day it will be our usual way of life and we confide in each other and we’ll share emotions together. She will be as beautiful as ever and I’ll hold her hand and be able to tell her how much I love and missed her.”
Gypsy’s people keep alive the memories of their dead ones through time, and act as if they are still alive and part of the family.
Their close relatives had become the wise ancestors of the family, to be consulted as their guides, to guard and to heal the ones who are alive. These are vital links that keep open the spiritual bonds between the people alive to those that have preceded them in life.
End Part 4