I can’t even remember where I met Paula. It was maybe at one of the gatherings where we used to sing.

Paula was already 21 and I was something like 12 or 13.

Paula was a Gypsy orphan, long distance adopted by a family from Germany.

She went to visit them once or twice and came back loaded with clothes, Kinder chocolate, and stuff.

We used to laugh our socks off when she was telling me that the family had no problem with farting at the dinner table.

She kept her suitcases at my place and she would change at least four times a day, ruining my mother’s very sensitive nerves.

One day I took her to the big choir and the conductor said that she was a genuine alto voice. He said she had a natural instinct to second sopranos and needed no training whatsoever because she had perfect pitch. She could second the sound of the air if she wanted.

Paula had a limp and permanently needed shelter because she couldn’t sleep at the orphanage dormitories all the time, as she was over 18.

Her voice had smoke in it, had warmth in it, had perfection in it and had that passion in it that Gypsies voices have.

After I went to Uni, she kept on singing but then she met a guy and ‘ran away’ with him to the other side of the country. Had two kids and only later returned to our hometown.

I met her once after, totally random, gave her some money and she told me how much she missed our laughing and singing.

Her kids were now in care and she was still looking for a place to live.

Paula, the thing I most sorry about is that the world hasn’t yet heard your voice.