The gypsies come to town

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Rumours had been swirling for weeks before they arrived, of beautiful gypsies who take your personal belongings to rid you of your unwanted memories. Everyone in the village said it was nonsense, saying these women where only hoarders, but you could see every one of the villagers looking closely at their belongings and searching for those things that made them recall painful memories.

His tie tucked into his shirt, the butcher started cutting the meat just as his father had shown him as a little boy, believing he would remember another one of his sayings, while the old lady who hid her smiles behind her scarves waited before pouring the milk in her tea, so that she could drink it lukewarm, just as her grandmother used to make it. But this behaviour proved fruitless, and it was only when they gave up on recollection that they would find themselves being plunged in a past so lost, it felt like new. Holding on to what triggered the sensory experience, they prepared to send it off with the gypsies.

The day the gypsies set up camp on the soft green moss just outside the village I only noticed because there was a long line that went as far as the piazza, with the villagers carrying fabric covered chairs, armoires in brushed wood, chipped tea cups, perfume bottles, tiny teaspoons and more. I walked towards the huge grey tent to see what was going on. “Wait in line like the rest of us Madeliene!” I heard someone from the back say, to which I turned, and spreading out the folds of my dress, I showed everyone I wasn’t carrying anything to give to the gypsies.

The fisherman was at the front of the line, resting on his armoire. He was telling the two gypsies to take it because it reminded him of his late wife. The two slender figures looked like beautiful black hawks. They wore black short dresses built with ruffles and sheer, and black nail polish; the rest of them ­— their eyes, their skin, their shoes, were clear and nude. They wore their hair in bows, cones and croissant shapes ­­— rumour was that if they cut it, they would die.

gypsies Image source: Thom Browne SS 14

The line seemed to be an infinite one as the villagers kept lining up with their belongings. In his cashmere sweater, the librarian brought the lace table cloth which reminded him of his mother and the woman who sold fresh spices every day, even on Sundays, in her floral print dress (so that no stain would ever show) carried her brother’s cream coloured lab down the line with her bare hands, while the poor thing let its tongue hang out. One by one they thanked the gypsies for taking painful memories away from them and each one headed home believing they would never again experience the pang of an involuntary memory.

I stood there for a while, as they listened to what each villager had to say, nodding once they’re asked whether they can take away the token and pointing to the pile every time. I did not wait for them to clear the line; I was not curious enough to know how they packed everything up and left; how they walked from village to village in heels. I do know they did not leave a single item behind — they took away all of the furniture, the couture and the customs they were given, and causing a stamped, they left the village.

Story credits: Vogue Italia and Thom Browne New York for the images.

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