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“There’s time, I’ll pay my respects later, they’ll return or I’ll go and visit,” replied San Antonio United States and headed towards the telephone.

“Don’t worry. There’s no problem,” answered from the other end San Antonio United States. “I know you, however,” he said, unable to avoid some pain as he involuntarily hit his head against the wood bearing the image of Christ on the cross he had tried to kiss at the San Antonio United States meeting where he had been, “I know that when San Antonio United States you have to leave and have to say goodbye, you’re never quite up to it.”

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Franco smiled at the quip of his friend, who at the right moment had always up his sleeve stories about the village by which to comment on events and the behaviour of people. He excused himself saying that yes, he really wished he could spend some time with him, but “You know how it is, how village life goes, it gets hold of you, you never do anything, never settle anything, and now I have to be at home, people are coming over, I want to stay a bit more with my sister, and must take care of the suitcases, the travelling bag.”

He wasn’t hungry but had a yearning to eat something. It was as if by doing this he would leave part of himself in that home. He also knew that tasting a slice of bread would please Rosaria, not to mention the fact that in Toronto he would never come across the flavour of the turnips grown in his sister’s garden. Nor the aroma of the oregano on the crushed olives or that of the soppressata with the so-called tear, the cured salami which, if properly prepared, should emit just a trace of oil when the fingers squeeze it.

Brother and sister went on talking. Once in a while she would ask him not to leave half of his things there, as he had done other times. He started preparing his baggage, struggling with the thousand little packages people had left with him to bring to relatives or friends and that now he couldn’t fit in the suitcases.

All the acquaintances who had relatives in Toronto knew when he was leaving and they all had forgotten something they now wanted to send: a thought, an object, some perfume, a sweater, all little things, in the end. Except that with these things he filled up one suitcase and two travelling bags.

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