In you I hope to die
At the moment available only in Italian – English translation in progress
Here I am, Irma, sitting on the beach at Piazza Mazzini asking myself: Shall I do it, or shan’t I?
And if I do it, why? My whole past life was coming back into my mind, invading it all. Everything, including what I no longer remembered or could possibly remember but had marked me forever.
The window with sea view of the hospital in which I was born in the south of southern Italy. My adolescence in Rome, a Rome with too much traffic, too much chaos, too much smog. Too much.
Shall I do it, or shan’t it?
My life as a modern nomad, living a bit here, a bit there.
Some journalists call us graduates who leave Galileo and Leonardo da Vinci’s beautiful homeland in search of a better future, «cervelli in fuga» a case of brain drain. I have always felt myself to be an emigrant 2.0. , wondering if I left by choice or out of necessity and feeling myself eternally hovering between the two.
That sea in front of me had breathed in the hopes emanating from ships going to America and Australia at beginning of the twentieth century. The end of something in search of something else at a time when the ocean was separating for real and going to a new continent rhymed with «forever».
The same «forever» that I then breathed in, gazing at the sea off Cape Town, the Cape of Good Hope on the other side of the world. Not even the Internet managed to make me feel any closer.
The South African ocean was a shark-infested sea, with high and low tides, with waves as high as the Berlin Wall. The one in front of me now off the calm Tuscan shore was just asking me a very simple question: «Will you do it, or won’t you?» My beloved sea knew full well that my «real» home was in Brussels. It also knew that I had made a cast iron promise: «At least until Flaminia finishes secondary school».
Well then, what would be the point of having a home in a place which has no links with your past and doesn’t belong to any part of your life to date? Obviously it has nothing to do with a man who cannot relax when your daughters are present or if you are next to him when he meets his children. So, what is the purpose of having this house in Viareggio then?
The purpose, dear sea of mine, is not the past but the future. That future, I want it to be a happy one, much happier that all my past to date.
And between the past and the future, here you are Irma, my all time companion, friend and sister. And it is to you that want to tell this story, my story. With you and for you I have searched and found the red thread running through my life.
My hands write, my brain thinks, my thighs spread. My nose is big, my bust is full, my eyes doe-shaped. My heart beats, my chemistry and my hormones press. But beyond all this, here you are, Irma, pure soul who have followed me since the beginning and you have always had to come to terms with me.
You, the one who looked into my eyes while on that little cloud in the sky and told me: forever, in both good times and bad. And I would like to apologise to you for all the times when I have not treated you well, didn’t listen to you and took you where you didn’t want to go. I apologise and I tell you, I love you, today and forever. Are you ready to start over again and stay beside me anyway, despite everything?
My body was dust and unto dust it shall return. You will go back where you came from to become an angel and you will accompany those who come after us. My daughters, my nieces and nephews and all those who have the will, time and determination to be touched by your heart.
It is only by looking into my eyes that I find you, Irma dear. Perhaps this is why eyes are said to be the mirror of the soul. And this is why I can tell you: «In you I was born and in you I hope to die» as suggested by the verse of Mario Tobino written on the pier in Viareggio, perhaps to encourage us to be reborn a thousand times in the heart and soul of people who will have known us and have decided to love us.
1.2. Before me (Mum and Dad)
Well then, Irma, to begin with I can confirm with certainty that I did not create myself, nor was I found under a cabbage or brought by a stork, which had it existed, would still be suffering from a slipped disk since when I arrived on this earth I weighed 4.2 kilos.
You remember don’t you when I was little, while I walked at my mother’s side, people we used to stop us in the street to tell my mum «Carletta, she just looks like you!»
From my father I inherited my lump of putty nose, and my short-sightedness and, so I am told, also his character. However, I have always thought people said that to spite me. To my eyes he was presumptuous and stubborn, certainly he was not how I would have liked to be even if, I must admit, I must have caused you so much grief precisely because of this stubbornness! I don’t know how and I don’t know when I decided that rationality is more important than feelings, and I have therefore mistreated you in a variety of ways, precisely because of this presumption. I thought I was doing it for your own good, Irma, or perhaps I was only trying to save myself. I don’t know.
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