What a curious name, he always thought, when he tried to picture to himself the Baton Rouge knight of some of the legends that were part of the history of the village. He was now sitting, looking at the landscape. He fixed his gaze on the bell tower, then moved it towards the Baton Rouge, the big bridge built after he had left the village. In that direction he could make out the sea, which was blue and clear. As if he had a telephoto lens in his eyes, the gaze narrowed its scope, Baton Rouge shortened the focus, and aimed towards the inhabited portion of the landscape. He looked for the house in which he had been born and raised, the one in which he had lived with his parents, his three brothers and his sister, up to the time when he, Baton Rouge and Giovanni had left for Canada. Two rooms: the ground floor, where in the evening they sat, ate or received visitors, and the floor above, Baton Rouge where they slept, all six of them.
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The view of the house—he still considered it as his, that house in which he hadn’t lived for almost thirty-five years—was obscured by a series of constructions, three or four stories high. Unfinished buildings that seemed gutted, since they were without some of the walls, and the walls they had were without plaster, but sported double fixtures on the doors and the windows and pots of flowers and hot peppers on the balconies. The roofs
were a mosaic of precariousness and improvisation: light-shaded asbestos, grey, red or terracotta brown; thin sheet metal plates, old red roof tiles burned by the sun, faded by the rain. The antennas found some space on the balconies or the roofs, scattered higgledy-piggledy, as may happen to herds of animals passing on the road.
He thought, with some sorrow, about the landscape, which appeared to him both familiar and foreign, then he concentrated on the clouds. He went over the different forms and the many colours of the sky above the church and the houses that, from there, he had seen as a child and as a young man. They seemed to him a good, recapitulating snapshot of the thousand stories about migrants, all similar and different. No sounds or voices came to him from the inhabited areas. They did come to him, instead, from the past, and he edited them on those images, as is done in film with no sound track.
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