The rOME cHRONICLES: …and so it goes the tale of ‘the Mouth of Truth’.

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A Roman with very broken English quietly explained the tale of the Mouth of Truth to me with a stern look of seriousness.I was mesmerised, not only because it was difficult to understand him so I clung to each word but also because the story was creepy…

…If you are to place your hand in La Bocca Della Verita’ and you are an untruthful sort of character who tells fibs or even petty white lies then the mouth will chew off your hand, I mean rip it off, bite off fingers one by one as blood trickles down the corners of the giant mouth. The Roman actually played out the biting of fingers with his own hand shoved unpolitely down his throat. It was an unusual scene.

But don’t laugh I actually fell for this… So, having heard the horrific tale from someone who lives in Rome, I was genuinely petrified when it came time for me to visit ‘la bocca’. A teenager, about three people ahead of me, plunged his hand into the cavernous hole. His smile quickly receded as he struggled to retrieve his hand. I gasped, as the onlookers laughed raucously. The teenager pulled out his hand, still wholly intact, waved it to the crowd and moved away.

I felt a little ill, ‘I don’t think I’ll have a turn, non posso…’ I backed into the line of eager tourists, whom with a sense of camaraderie stopped my regression.

‘Tu puoi’, my boyfriend urged me forward. The line forced me onwards.

Crazy thoughts invaded my head ‘Well, we’ve all lied before…but what if I was the unlucky one and my hand really did disappear…what if it was true and a bunch of people I didn’t know watched my hand get crushed,eaten and blood oozing…weeping…?’

I approached dubiously and with my eyes scrunched up tightly, I placed my right hand into the ominous mouth. I’m left handed and I needed that one if anything did happen.

The line of queue waiters stared intently at me and my hidden hand and my boyfriend waited patiently to the side…I managed a small breath…

I survived the ordeal and I still have two hands to show for it, I guess it really was only a tale…it had me going though…and thousands of other tourists too…

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The rOME cHRONICLES: The tale of the pregnant pause in a Roman post office

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Being pregnant in your own country is hard enough, but it is amplified in a foreign country when your grasp on the language isn’t perfect…

She waited in her thin cotton dress with it’s shoe string straps, she was one of many in the serpent line and foreign tongues outnumbered her.
Her pregnancy was in its early stages and her bump was noticeable to her but not so much to others. Mostly because others were too busy with their own lives to be concerned with that of an Australian girl and and why should they concern themselves in her life anyway.
The line moved at a snail’s pace. She still hadn’t made it inside the door. The human serpent weaved around like the check- in at the airport. She began to fan herself with the bill she held in her hand, which was the purpose for standing in this line, to pay the telephone bill. The temperature started to rise as the sun reflected off the glass doors. She was feeling a bit light headed and imagined she probably should have eaten the rest of her croissant this morning.

Gradually, she made it in through the glass doors. There was no air conditioning and a stale overpowering stench filled the post office. People hovered close to each other. Personal space was not respected in Rome. She felt the man behind hers breath on her neck. It made her feel uneasy so she shuffled ahead, lightly touching the woman in front of her. The two cashiers were busy chatting. One was dragging on his cigarette and sipping his espresso in a minute plastic cup and the other, a woman in her forties, was in an in depth conversation with her customer.

The line moved ahead. She glanced at her watch. The office shut in less than an hour which meant she’d been in line for almost two hours. Her legs began to ache and perspiration trickled down the back of her knees. She was eighth in line now; she began to wave her bill frantically as beads of sweat coated her upper lip.

‘Signora, signora’, the cashier’s voice increased in volume as she stared right at her. “Venga, venga, lei e’ in attesa’. That’s when the uproar broke out. The cashier had very gently encouraged her to come forward because she was pregnant. Then the incoherent voices screamed tortuous words, ‘non e’ incinta, e’ la segretaria di qualcuno!’
An angry elderly man exploded, arms thrust in the air. Rudely, he told the other serpent line travellers that she was only someone’s secretary and wasn’t pregnant at all. He’d created an entire life story for her without knowing the details.They tut-tutted in chorus.

She had no secretarial skills…

She was just standing in a line like everyone else…and she was pregnant…

As she approached the cashier’s window her tiny frame showed the signs of defeat and exhaustion. Constricted by the thickening lump in her throat she seized an uninvited pregnant pause and then in poor Italian she spoke to the cashier. Embarrassed by the excitement all she wanted to do was to fly like a bird out of the confines of the hideous cage.

Bill paid; she left the post office to the snarls of evil faces she hoped she would never lay eyes on again…