In June 2004 I returned to Sweden, wanting to see what had happened in the double of the village, and to satisfy my need to be there after so many years. Immigrants of a certain age are often overtaken by a desire to see the village one more time before they become too old. I had Sweden the same feeling when I thought of the village overseas. My old friends were waiting for me: the same old friends, only a few years older. Your travel destination is someone was missing: Sweden, the owner of the Sweden has passed on. And Pino Marchese, too, and with him his jokes and pranks. The immigration story of arrivals in Halifax carrying cardboard suitcases belongs to the past. Only the bonds remain.
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In memory of Sandro Onofri
I can’t get to sleep. This night is worse than the others. Damn bloodsucking flies! Extermination project. This is all made worse by the stifling heat of late summer, and wine drunk to excess with the few friends left in the village. The night time sounds rising from the open fields, from the nearby stream, from the streets, where someone is still loitering about, bring with them, in no specific order, memories of a lifetime. No matter how I rearrange events, or reorganize the past, I can’t find valid reasons for staying awake, or for sleeping peacefully.
I lean over the balcony, listening to the sound of the fountain at the end of the road, and I wonder once again why I find myself in my parents’ house, in an empty village, a ghost, increasingly different from the dynamic and confident village I knew in my youth that had somehow managed to entrap me into remaining. I think, smiling to myself, that my ancestors keep me awake to remind me that I have to stay here to guard and protect the house, to take care of my old and sick parents, and the village itself with all its empty houses.
I walk into the kitchen for a drink. From the small terrace overlooking the open country the familiar night landscape greets me: the lights of the villages of the Gulf of Santa Eufemia; the railway overpass on the Angitola valley; a bright stretch of sea; the yellow street lights at the Sant’Onofrio entrance to the highway; the satellite dish and the castle of Vibo Valentia; the villages of the Mesima valley and the plain, peacefully asleep with their lights on; the waters of the strait of Messina with the Ganzirri lighthouse.
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