Taking a little break in my reading this morning. Woke up terribly early having to run to the lavatory to prevent a blood bath in the bed. Couldn’t go to sleep after changing clothes and everything. Typical. Feel depleted of too much blood so I am just sitting reading “Katitzi på Flykt” and “Sparky” is playing with his brothers’ cars and garage. They never play with them while he is having a blast. It’s Flash McQueen, Sarge, Filmore and Doc Hudson. At the same time he is watching “Cars” as background.
The book is so terrifying that I have to take breaks. Two weeks ago, ca., I wanted to start reading something that would hold both “Cookie’s” and “Kitty’s” interest. This idea popped in to my mind. “Katitzi”! I had forgot all about that series that I so much loved as a child. The true story of the little gypsy girl Katitzi. Fun, exciting, different, drama… Well, I should say Romani really since that is the correct name for them nowadays while noone called them that in the 1970s when I started to read the books and when they were published. I only remembered the bright side of the books. But when I have read them now, to my children, I see the dark side to them as well. We borrowed the first book probably two weeks ago. And the children did not want me to stop reading. Every evening I had to read so long till my throat could not take it anymore.
It’s amazing how “Cookie” has never ever heard the word gypsy actually so she is getting to know something entirely new. Something one ought to know really. That there are elements in society that has not been welcome and are still, in some ways, not welcome. A people that in many ways do not fit in, not to the norm anyway. She is learning and I am re-learning. I really am seeing things differently reading them now, with all my historical knowledge. Somehow, I never found out back then either, that the series had 12 books! I never got to read a fraction of them. Got caught up with my dad’s accident, death and so forth, of course but still…
We started reading about Katitzi when she is 7 years old and in an orphanage. Racism is prevalent in the person that runs the orphanage but on the whole things are not so bad in pre-war Sweden to little Katitzi that isn’t an orphan at all. But, her selfish father decides to bring her home. I say selfish, because in all the books that come after this first one, he does not have Katitzi’s welfare in mind at all, he just wants to be surrounded with what is HIS belongings. He doesn’t care a straw about his third wife’s hatred for his four oldest children. Katitzi, who lost her mother at age 9 months and was brought to friends in the circus world, when her dad re-married, has no memory of the gypsy life and world. When she gets back to the camp after more than 2 years absence, she has to learn a new language, wear strange clothes, work, eat strange things and worse of all, get beaten by her step-mother. Katitzi and her siblings call their step-mother “The Lady” but her real name is Siv and she ran away with Johan Taikon, deserting her two children, to live what she thought would be a romantic life. Romani life is not romantic though. It’s cold, damp and wet to live in a tent and awful to be chased away every three weeks. And there is no school for the children which is a sore spot for everyone since the gypsies are the only analphabets in the country!
In the subsequent books we have got to follow Katitzi and the fates of her three older siblings that matter the most to her. She gets a dog that protects her from some of the beatings. Her brother Paul can’t do much more than give moral support. Her sister Rosa that is the real mother in the family since she does all the work, is married off at age 15 since Siv doesn’t want her around. She divorces after just a year. Katitzi runs away but is forced back time after time. The family has kept to themselves since all the gypsies have spread out all over Sweden to be safer. Authorities want them extradited to Germany where they would meet a sure death in the concentration camps. So the gypsies keep a low profile as much as they can being so different, and keep to the idea that if they are spread out and the Germans come, then they can’t all be annihilated in one blow. The war is hard for them without ration cards, they starve, get tuberculosis and finally some families move together for moral strength, outside Stockholm. That is how far I have got in my readings for the children BUT “Cookie” found the books soooooo good that she read ahead so I had to jump ahead privately. Wikipedia said that the latter books are not suitable for children so I jumped to “Katitzi Barnbruden” to make sure nothing bad was in it for an 11-year-old. The title means “The Child Bride”. Siv, the lady, forces her husband to marry Katitzi off at the age of 12 years and 8 months! And the family where she ends up, has lied about their economical status for one, on top of the fact that Johan Taikon knows nothing of the 19-year-old boy that he marries his daughter off to. At the wedding that is visited by the press, they lie about Katitzi’s age and name and say that she is 16 and called Rosita. Katitzi is too young to understand a single thing and that was is happening is illegal according to Swedish law. I let “Cookie” read the book since the most awful thing that happened in it was another beating by Siv but Swing the dog bit her so bad that I thought that would make the event milder to read about for “Cookie”. Now I am pre-reading Katitzi on the run but NO this book she will have to wait years to read.
According to gypsy ways, yes, you can marry your young girl off BUT she will only be like a daughter in the family for the first years and the husband is not allowed to touch her for years in a sexual way. In Katitzi’s case though, her awful husband doesn’t care. He rapes her over and over and once in front of his brother-in-laws since they don’t believe it when he brags that he has broken the contract. Katitzi who is only 13, runs away from that shameful happening, not understanding that she is pregnant! She is just a child, having put on her red wedding dress again, she runs to Gothenburg to take a boat to America where she wants to become a film star. But when she has arrived to Gothenburg she gets caught by the police and is sent back home. Noone is listening to her when she is screaming that she is a child and already married. She desperately wants someone to help her. When back in the camp, her husband who hates her, is proud to have her back and her parents-in-law gives them their own tent to share with her husband’s sister. Katitzi stops eating and washing, she doesn’t want to live anymore now when she understands that she is pregnant and that noone cares. She has shamed her dad by running away so she can not go home to him (he has moved) and noone has dared to tell him that her husband has done what he has done. Everyone is protecting the swine Lazi so he will not be fined in gypsy court. I feel so upset I don’t know how to continue reading the book but at the same time I have to find out what happens. I did cheat and read ahead and I know that Lazi beats her up so she looses the baby. For Katarina Taikon’s sake I want to finish the series myself. She had a ghastly life but decided to record it, to let people know and she doesn’t just write about the bad parts, but of course when she was going through these awful things, the books can’t describe something but misery. Poor woman! At the same time, she did get her revenge. She put the gypsy plight on the map. She did marry a Swede that I think she probably had a good marriage with and with him she had something like 4 children. Can’t find the information on the internet now even though I did find things out for “Cookie” two weeks ago when she asked about Katarina Taikon’s fate. Katarina/Katitzi fell badly and ended up laying in a coma for years before she died. Can’t understand why I can not locate the info again? Sad end anyway. Today I learned on the internet that she actually did end up acting in a film! WOW! Must check it out some more.