Stefan Palison told his story of Prince ‘Kokalo’ to schoolchildren in an elementary school at Malmö in Sweden where he was teaching Romani (he himself made the accompanying sound recording). The narrator tells the story specifically for a young audience. He addresses individual pupils (‘De nadjon pakjalas lesko muj, kade sar o Robert peske paposko’ – ‘This son obeyed his father as Robert did his grandfather’) and describes at great length scenes relevant to children: how bored the boy is, how he repeatedly hesitates to open the forbidden room, his pangs of conscience towards his father, to whom he had given his word, and the arguments he uses to justify to himself disobeying the order.
The storyteller goes into great detail about the inner monologues of the boy and the dialogue with his father who explains why he should not have opened the door. The narrator does not expect the young listeners to interpret the text themselves, he presents a logical story told linearly. The audience is audibly living the story. They ask questions from time to time, including about the age of the young prince, and want him to be given a name (Jozhi). But the storyteller expressly gives him an alias name in Romani: Kokalo is an ancient Greek word meaning ‘bone’.
As to the contents of the story, the narrator does not follow any particular template. The story of winning an enchanted princess is found in the fairy tales of many countries. It is an important structural element for the searching and trials of the hero. These basic elements are freely combined by the narrator with adventures and various motifs to create an individual tale of magic.
The young prince does not pass the first test of reliability. Therefore, he has to repeat the test after having experienced several adventures. This time his battle of conscience is even longer. The young listeners have enough opportunities to evaluate their own potential behaviour. Once again, the young boy fails. However, as it is his destiny to become king and marry the princess, all this happens although he fails as a hero: our designated destiny (‘So dela o Del pe muro šero, dela!’ – ‘Whatever God has decided for me will happen!’) stands above the deeds of men.
However, the story does not really end well: the boy loses his father, murders his friend by mistake and damages himself. The princess is not happy with him, he who has ‘neither wit nor hair on his head’ (‘či godji taj či bal po šero’) – a humorous turn of events that is not typical of fairy tales. Thus, the story does not focus on sending a moral message to the audience but showing the conduct of the prince, who reacts just like a ‘normal’ boy and allows himself to be led by curiosity, pride and boredom into ignoring prohibitions.
Mode, Heinz; Hübschmannová, Milena (ed.). 1983–1985. Zigeunermärchen aus aller Welt. 4 Bände, Leipzig: Insel-Verlag.
Cech, Petra; Fennesz-Juhasz, Christiane; Halwachs, Dieter W.; Heinschink, Mozes F. (ed.). 2001. Fern von uns im Traum. Märchen, Erzählungen und Lieder der Lovara / Te na dikhas sunende. Lovarenge paramiči, tertenetura taj gjila. Klagenfurt: Drava Verlag (Transkript und deutsche Übersetzung / transkripto taj njamcicka translacija / transcript and German translation: pp. 216–45).