This excerpt is from the very beginning of Romani Mitologia [Romani Mythology] (pp. 3–13), Sali Ibrahim’s epic poem, written in Romani, about the creation of the world as well as about deities and people. One could be forgiven for thinking that the work is centred around traditional beliefs or motifs taken from Romani oral culture. However, the narrative is based exclusively on Sali Ibrahim’s own imagination and is told as invented by her.
Like most mythologies, the narrative starts with God creating the world, a process in which the main deity crafts both natural phenomena (day, night, moon, etc.) and major facets of the lives of the people (love, luck, etc.). Apart from God, there are a number of deities forming a polytheistic universe. The world of gods, like the world of human beings, is full of bad and good, mistakes, envy and passion.
References to Romani culture can be found – respect for one’s elders is a must and a strong belief in God (o Del) and destiny/luck (baxt), while avoiding wrongdoing and sins (bezexa).
The typed version of the text was provided by Sali Ibrahim in 2017.
Note on the Romani transcription (Petra Cech)
The transcription into the Latin alphabet does not employ diacritics but rather resembles an ‘English’ means of codification: ‘sh’ (shukar = beautiful) and ‘ch’ (chachipe = truth) are used like in English spelling (e.g. ash and check) instead of ‘š’ and ‘č’, while zh (zhivoto = life), pronounced like the French ‘j’ in jour, replaces ‘ž’. The author does not distinguish between the unaspirated ‘č’ (čačo = true) and the aspirated ‘čh’ (čhaj = girl), using ‘ch’ for both sounds, although aspiration is a phonological feature typical of most Romani dialects, including Balkan variants.