mirno

Le Barreske dad / Barr’s parents

I came up with how those two met.

It’s just after the second world war when a Crimean Romani man, Mirno, was travelling through a small village in south-eastern Ukraine with his camp. He went into this village to try to sell some goods or find some temporary work.

As evening came, the locals found some chickens were missing and blamed Mirno. He was captured and beaten by the local men. In the struggle, he managed to get away, and scrambled in through an open door of a small home and passed out from his injuries.

Katya (Ekaterina) discovered the injured man in her home in the morning and nursed him back to health and hid him from the villagers. During his stay, the two fell in love with each other. However, Mirno’s camp was moving on to find a better place to settle, and he had to go along. He vowed to return for Katya though.

Some months later Katya delivered their son, whom she named Nikolai. The locals did not take kindly to him, saying he looked like a dirty “Gypsy” boy. Katya tried to make excuses that she had married a Turk, and he was simply away for a while. Nikolai was sent to school. He did not make any friends, but was pretty good at racking up enemies.

When Nikolai was eight, his father finally returned. He was kept away longer because he’d been arrested for robbery. Mirno took Katya and their son and moved them to a new home he’d built in in his village in Crimea. Nikolai continued going to school until he was thirteen, when he dropped out to work as a blacksmith with his father.

Upon getting to know his son, Mirno gave Nikolai a Romani name — Barr, meaning stone, which to Mirno represented his son’s strength. And there we have it.

Barr never uses the name Nikolai now, and resents that he has any Gadje blood in him. He still loves his mother, however, he just wishes she were Romani.

Also, his son-in-law Drago would be in hysterics if he found out. I’m not even sure if Lulu knows, or his own wife realises. Maybe they were just used to the fact that his mother was Russian-looking and left it at that — that she was a very Russian-looking Romani woman (who doesn’t speak Romani at all, which in their village is unheard of).