Mar 12, 2017

Chatting with Lisabeta!

-Hello Lisabeta! How are you today?

Through Daniel who has been one of my home care people this winter I have learned her name is Lisabeta, not Elisabeta which my Swedish ear first heard. As I have mentioned before Lisabeta is the Romani woman earning her living outside my grocery store. We have met twice a week for 1,5 year now. Before Daniel came into my life I mostly bought her a grilled chicken, since that was what she asked for. Sometimes fruit.

It was really frustrating to me that I couldn’t communicate with Lisabeta. She knows a few words in English and three Swedish. And of course I don’t know any Rumanian. But then life brought me an interpreter! Daniel who himself comes from Rumania and has been here for about two years. His Swedish is impeccable, that young man really has a good ear for language!

So, I got to know Lisabeta lost her husband early. Her elderly mother is back in Bucharest while Lisabeta’s two children in their early twenties are here In Umeå with her, as well as her three young grandchildren. Daniel tells me it is rare for a Romani woman only having two children, which would be explained by her husbands death.

Now, I wanted to find out how to communicate the most basic with Lisabeta. Daniel became my teacher, and I learned Rumanian is a mix of latin base language, slavic and also some rests from old Daccia, the original Rumania. This was so exciting!

As I am a little bit familiar with Italian I jumped on everything that was related to that language, it was easy to learn, and fun, I loved it!. But the slavic heritage… I just can’t wrap my head around it! It’s interesting how difficult a word can be when you can’t connect it to anything at all, no matter how bad you want to learn it. Thanks for example, I just had to drop that one. Lisabeta knows thank you in Swedish though, so it isn’t the end of the world.

Lisabeta's and mine twice a week dates now are so much fun. And this is how are conversations goes, in Rumanian:

-Hello Lisabeta!
-Hello Maria!
-How are you doing today?
-Good. (Or sometimes not good). How are you doing?
-Not good (way to often). What do you want today?
-Meat. Or fish. Or potatoes and oil. Or baguette and butter. Or eggs. Or fruit. Once pizza

I pick up my groceries as well as her’s and handing them over afterwords I say:

-There you go (which is with pleasure)
-Thank you Maria (which she says in Swedish)
-Stay well!
-Thank you. Stay well you too
-Bye bye! (which is until we see each other again, like Italian)

I don’t think I have bought Lisabeta chicken since she was able to tell me what she really wants.  Chicken was probably the only word she could express in English. And of course I feel ashamed about responding to her “How are you doing” with “Not good”. At least I am not on my knees on a purple cushion in a cold and dark country far away from home. But I consider us friends and I can’t lie to a friend.

Did I mention we are laughing a lot? So happy to chat with each other even though quite restricted. And Daniel complimented my pronunciation the other day saying “Now you don’t need me any more” But of course I do, I want to learn more!

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