Things are heating up a little in this scene! Settlement – forced or “chosen” – was tantamount to giving up Romani identity. Children were often forcibly taken away from their families and made to speak the local language exclusively – a cultural death sentence. Adults were often forced to live in conditions that went utterly against their strict purity laws. In many Rom cultures the lower half of the body is considered very impure – to the extent that living in the bottom floor of a house could be considered unclean because of the lower parts of the people walking above – thus the comment about “living on top of each other.” Ancient family trades dating back to life on the Indian subcontinent would have to be abandoned in favor of subsistence living.
Many families who did concede to settlement (rather than being forced by local law enforcement efforts) had virtually no choice in the matter; losing your horses or wagons or being cut off from a traditional trade route could be a crippling blow. This particular family has had a rough year for its patriarch to be giving thought to the matter.
Cheerful stuff! Check back next week, I promise that things will perk up a bit.