It doesn’t matter where you come from; a little bit or a lot of your heart will stay in your home country…
It’s exciting, living in a foreign country where the language is not your own, where things are different & new.
When one thinks of a life in Rome, they may think glamour…fun…but realising that home is so far away can take it’s toll…
If only for a brief moment the young lady wanted to be herself away from the scrutiny of eyes she did not know and those who judged her regardless. Was she from eastern Europe, a babysitter, a secretary or a rich man’s lover?
Only she knew the answers, only she knew who she was as the eyes and taunting faces questioned her and mocked. Some of the women perhaps, were even envious of her and that she’d left her country, family and friends to settle in a new one…she looked different this is true and she dressed differently too and of course she sounded different, Italian was not her mother tongue.
Why had she come here, why had she left her home so comfortable and secure? She had been to university, she was clever. Wasn’t she? Doubt filled her thoughts as the countless faces trudged passed her as she made her way home, hands laden with bags of groceries. Only servants trudged kilometres with bags in this city. They were heavy too and she’d had to park so far away.
She wanted to be home, in the confines of her appartment where the eyes could no longer see her and she could be herself.
All paths lead home…don’t they?
I love short stories with impact, with enthrall and with suspense.Don’t you?
How many stories offer the thrill of riveting suspense?
How many women live for their children and their husband?
How many live each day waiting? Waiting for what in essence?
“If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved of you and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
‘The phone rings, it is pouring with rain outside and the kids are screaming. ‘Hello, Burton household’, she chirps, faking happiness.
‘Listen, you are breaking up, hang on’. She mutes the phone with a cuffed hand. ‘For goodness sake, will you shut up , you noisy kids, I’m on a phone call’.
She uncuffs the phone. Muffled screams and taunts continue through the walls to the kitchen.
‘Sorry, what were you saying?’ She continues through the crackles, puffing on her now half lit cigarette.
‘I call from..Sc…on..doo..Maam..’
‘I can’t understand a word you are saying’, frustrated now her words mixed with fury, ‘the line is crackling’. A murderous scream drowns out her fragmented conversation.
‘Awwwww, that hurt, I’m bleeding’. Her phone call ends as she rushes to the adjoining room.
Terror marks the faces of her two frightened children as one lies motionless on the floor.’
Now this is ‘bello’
She waved as she approached, dissecting me into hundreds of minuscule pieces. ‘Ciao bella’, she grabbed me and fleetingly touched my cheek to hers, lips pursed and then with the other cheek she repeated the ritual.
‘Ciao Mara’, I responded. I hadn’t seen her for a few weeks. ‘Quanto sei bella’, she stood back and continued to dissect me, ‘you are BEAUTIFUL’. I was always taken aback by the word ‘bella’. It seemed to be used so effortlessly and in my mind was not a good ‘truth’ indicator. People who barely knew each other would tap cheek to cheek and say,’ ciao bella’. Do you really think that I am bella? I asked myself time and time again. Do you really think that it is wise to call a person you have just met and do not know bella? How language differs country to country. In English, it would be highly unusual to address someone with ‘hi beautiful’. Even people who know you would think it strange!
I felt a tinge of embarrassment whenever anyone said ‘ciao bella’. I really didn’t know how to take it and it took me a decade to become acquainted with it’s usage. Needless to say the words didn’t slip off my tongue very easily.
Life as a yellow peg in Rome
“The yellow peg slipped easily from my fingertips. I watched as it spiralled to it’s demise. The unclean concrete below had become a meeting ground for others just like the yellow one; a coloured playground. Today the yellow could meet yesterday’s friend the green one.
‘Ciao’, a morning voice broke my concentration. It was my neighbour at the window in front of me, armed with washing and a handful of pegs. ‘Oh, ciao Monica’, we often met here at the same hour of the day, in the same pose. I continued to hang my laundry on the pulley system that had been created in this long trim courtyard in the centre of our apartment building.
‘Merda’, I heard Monica blaspheme as her pure white t-shirt drifted to the ground to play in the coloured playground. None of us ever rescued the pegs but clothing, well that was another story. Once retrieved it would be covered in dirt and grime. It happened to me once,frightened and vulnerable enveloped in the stale confines of the building, I’d grabbed my white singlet top streaked with dust and blackness and run up the four flights of stairs without stopping. They said rats lived below.
How I longed for a hills hoist. The laundry looked so happy hanging there as it twisted and turned, partying in the wind. I would watch it for hours when I went home on holidays. Watched it baking in the sun, whites whiter than white. The fresh and clean smell of happy laundry is something not easily forgotten.
The sun never reached the courtyard, my laundry couldn’t dance in the wind or frollick as it spun around. It wasn’t happy like the laundry back home.”
A sea of cobbled streets
The gypsy’s perspective is one that is not acknowledged on the cobbled streets of Rome.They are regarded as beggars and thieves. Maybe this is a fragment of what their lives might resemble if we were to walk in their shoes:
Mother of four children
Lives in a caravan in the outskirts of Rome.
Gravely ill with MS (undiagnosed)
” I can hardly take a breath under here. The black hood covers my head as I inhale the filth of the cobbled road beneath me. The winter chill has possessed my bones and I am chronically sick. I have walked kilometres in the last few days. What I own is on my back, my feet are worn and dirty. They jeer me you know, they think I am vermon, they don’t know where I have come from and how much sufferance I endure. To them I am faceless, the beggar with no identity. Some toss me a few coins, others ignore me and one or two tut-tut as they pass. I hear them beneath my layered rags. I hear the words, the blasphemy. My numb hands rolled into fists are practically lifeless but my hearing is faultless.
When approaching footsteps hasten I know they will not stop or look my way but when the footsteps hesitate and then slow to a halt I know there is a chance the odd coin will be thrown my way.
They don’t know where I have come from and how much sufferance I endure”.
Santa Prisca, the Aventine church in Rome
“If I stood in one spot for this long there was a reason. Studying the oil painting, in the small and humble church of Santa Prisca in Rome, was mesmerising. I was transfixed, the detail in his cumbersome hands, the pain, the anguish and the solace in his virtuous face. How could it be that there was pain and solace? Broken fingernails caked with dirt and hardship. Yet his face was serene, perfect even as his head tilted upwards. I was the intruder as I stood unable to shift my gaze from the beauty before me.
The chatter of a group of tourists broke the silence. The adolescents whispered and sniggered behind faces that quite simply were unable to appreciate the significance or majesty of what was before them, juxtaposed by the modesty of the tiny church the oil painting was a masterpiece, hopefully one day they would recall the importance of their brief visit.”
He has an honourable stance, respected among his own kind.
This has been my dilemna of late. To share one’s thoughts, ideas and emotions with complete strangers and not just one or two but opening up your toolbox of thoughts to the universe. Today, however, I have decided to share a snippet of a short story I have written. I welcome your feedback, thus I throw my words out to you to be critiqued by those I do not know.
‘The stallion, now settled, stood still. His frame was strong and muscular, the sweat had turned into dry white foam covering his muscles. John began to walk him quietly to the small paddock he’d had the farm hands prepare today. The sun’s last ochre rays lit the darkening sky as John cautiously took off the purpose made noose. One of the rules in the horse industry was never show fear, as a horse can sense it a mile away. John had been breeding race horses for years and was well accustomed to this rule, he knew the beasts like the back of his hand. Once freed from the rope the stallion galloped off with fury and mounting confidence in his stride. He pranced; he swayed his head back and forth and put on a spectacular show. He pawed the grass and overturned the fresh soil, glad to be out of the confines of the float and away from human hands’.
Words there are so many and so much we can do with them, oh,the power of words…til next time…