“I was 12 when they brought me here. My father had died the week before. They had taken my mother away. She was screaming and since then I haven’t had any news of her. I didn’t know exactly what it meant to die and I didn’t understand much of what was happening to me.
When I was a child I spent hours and often even whole days from dawn to dusk sitting on the roots of olive trees under the burning sun. I used to smell the fragrance of the earth and listen to the harsh muttering of hens. I spent the starless nights listening to nocturnal animals singing in the dark. Life wasn’t frightening at all then. The storm looked like the joy of the sky and a friend of the trees. The wind told me stories full of splendour and brought me news about places beyond the horizon. The river’s water was as beautiful as the light of the sun. And, finally, the silence, the silence of the country during the peaceful nights and the sunny afternoons! The smells of the earth don’t vanish through the years, and yet I’ve been saved by silence, by the transparent silence of my childhood: the silence in which I was born, the silence in which I grew up... and now, half a century later, the silence in which I live, forgotten by everybody.
My father had to cut off one of his fingers, because it festered after he got pricked by a sickle, but he managed to work all the same with his remaining fingers and with both hands when he tied the vines. I remember that the piles of straw looked like golden domes at that time. In the wheat field, he used the spade to turn the earth and the hoe to break the clods and he wiped his forehead with his shirt sleeve. He used to drink wine from the flask to stand the scorching sun rays and, between one day and the next, when evening came to relieve him, he leant back against the old almond tree, half-closed his eyes, and started singing.
All the strength of the nails isn’t enough to scratch the hardwood door. They switch on the light from the outside after they have peeped through the keyhole. When the keys creak inside the locks it sounds like a gnawing of the lungs.
And yet, today I would still be willing to live my life with joy, although my youth has been killed in this place.
All the stories published herein have been recorded by Piero Colacicchi