I recently got a chance to read two stories by Galina Trefil from Flock – The Journey. Both stories, Calo with Calo and The Proposal, though very different, have a romance at their core.
In Calo with Calo, teenaged Milo Dimitrov is entranced with the girl next door. In a really equal world, this should have been a simple love story. But the girl next door belongs to a conflicting Romani clan so Milo’s parents obviously don’t want his attraction to develop into anything more. At one level, the story is simply about teenage rebellion. That spark within you that makes you thrust your chin out and do exactly what your parents tell you not to. But if you have any familiarity with the intricacies of a caste system (whether Indian or Romani), the story is also about the fight between traditionalism and modernism. Milo, new to America, would like to throw away the shackles of traditionalism and be free to love whoever he wants to. At the same time, he is traditional enough to feel more attracted to a fellow Romani girl than to other American girls whom he can pursue with less difficulty and certainly less opposition. The author has managed to bring out all the complexities of relationships between immigrants in a foreign world. So while this story is essentially Romani, you can see that it could easily have been that of an Indian boy and a Pakistani girl in America, or even a Punjabi boy and a Malayali girl.
In The Proposal, fourteen-year-old Timotei Hagi asks young Camelia Avramescu to marry him, while they are both huddled inside a small house, hiding from a rampaging mob outside. Camelia doesn’t think much of Timotei, and indeed, even Timotei is not that much in love with Camelia. Why then does he propose to Camelia? Especially when, at any moment, the mob outside could break through their barricades and eliminate the entire tribe in a matter of minutes? Timotei can’t rescue Camelia and her family. He can’t single-handedly take on and vanquish the enemy. He is too young for all that. But this heartwarming story is about a different sort of bravery. It is about the courage you need to put away your own fears and try to make the world a better place for someone else, if only for a few minutes.
Both stories have left me wanting more. Looking forward to reading the rest of Flock – The Journey, compiled and edited by Mahua Sen.