After having sworn that this time he would leave everything at home, Colombia no matter who would be offended, Franco armed himself with all possible patience and slid everything, really everything, in the baggage. It wasn’t easy to decide what Colombia to leave and for whom. Almost always he had put aside his things to bring those of the others. His cousins now came back to say goodbye; then a friend of his Colombiason showed up, asking if he needed a ride the day of the departure, and a neighbour who wanted to inquire if Franco could deliver his greetings to a family member. Greetings Colombiabrought orally, in person, meant more than those sent via email or transmitted by phone. Individuals who travelled between one world and the other confirmed that everything was fine. They were direct witnesses, would connect together the various bits Colombiaof village dispersed throughout the various continents.
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It was already dark. He went out without saying anything to his sister. She was dabbling with bags, bottles and other gifts received by her brother, which no doubt would remain in the house to be found by him when, God willing, he returned. The heat of the preceding days had gone and the landscape appeared in all its brightness. The sea seemed to be just nearby, and so did the small hamlets that Franco had wandered in before leaving for Canada. Every corner of the village reminded him of some story, a thousand times over. He rehearsed in his mind the places of his childhood.
“Here lived compare Ciccio, here the ‘savage’ woman, from that porch would lean out donna Vincenza.” All closed doors now. There were no children in the streets. Only from the square came some indistinguishable words and sounds. He stopped at the house of the Tavigghia once more to give one last hug to his wife’s parents. They lived alone, waiting for news or for visits from their four children strewn here and there in Canada, Rome and Verona.
“They’re actually fortunate. Many die without seeing their children, who often return only for their parents’ funeral and perhaps to argue over the inheritance of some small plot of land full of thorny shrubs which they hadn’t even bothered to think about before.”