Irena Eliášová

* 1953

  • "1968. At that time, I was fifteen years old and did not understand politics. I didn't know what was happening but I could hear on the radio that we were being invaded: 'The Czechoslovak Radio is under siege.' My parents asked: 'Irenka, what is going on?' I was the eldest child. I said: 'I don't know what is going on. I don't understand it.' Our elders replied: 'There will be war.' We were afraid. Well, we... I wasn't. I was fifteen and didn't mind one bit. I was interested in completely different things. Frankly, I couldn't even grasp what it all meant. Not at all. I recall receiving letters from Slovakia immediately. Our cousins and aunts wrote to my father that the tanks passed through their village but nothing happened."

  • "For me, to be a Roma means for children to respect their parents. To respect their parents and their elderly. This is the spirit of being a Roma, and a number of other things. But even if I wanted, there is no way to persuade people to admit they are Roma. And that is wrong." - "In your case, is this related to the use of Romani language?" - "Certainly. Yes, I was just thinking about it. I am terribly grateful to Ms. Milena Hübschmannová for instance, even though I never met her in person. I thank her very much for practically enable us to write in our mother tongue. That is a wonderful thing. I am only sorry that my mummy couldn't live to see it. She was a well-read woman and she'd never had believed someone would be able to speak Romani. A white person speaking Romani perhaps better than myself. I mind, you know. But seriously, Milena Hübschmannová contributed to our language being taught at a university along with all others which is beautiful. Us Romani people, we should really be grateful. I am only sorry for not having known her."

  • "My husband saved money to save me my first typewriter - Continental. He brought it to me for my birthday and said: 'Here you go and now you can write!' I was eager to write a book about our settlement. However, the family found out; most of all his brother and people at work, saying: 'Well, I need to have this and that written and don't know how to do it.' He said: 'You know, my sister-in-law has a typewriter. She will write it down for you.' This is how it all started. Acquaintances and family coming to our place. My husband was really angry about it. I used to write court appeals. They committed various crimes so they wanted me to write them requests. Once, I even asked for a pardon - and it was granted."

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    Liberec, 16.07.2016

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While aging, I recall my parents whom I’d like to stay here forever

dobová eliášová.jpg (historic)
Irena Eliášová
photo: archiv I. Eliášové

Irena Eliášová was born on 3 May 1953 in the Roma settlement of Novésa (Nová Dedina u Levic) in Slovakia. Her father made a living as a musician. In the 1960s the family went to seek work in Czechia. They stayed at numerous places both in Southern and Northern Bohemia. She only finished elementary school because following her father becoming ill she had to take a job and help provide for the family as a seamstress. After getting to know her future husband the couple moved to Liberec. When her three children grew up, she finally became fully invested in her beloved writing. In 2008, she published the first book of memories called “Our Settlement”. She published in Kalmanach and in an anthology of contemporary Roma women literature. She publishes her texts on the website of the internet publishing house Kher. She attends author readings. She writes in Romani.