We had been living there for a few weeks. Sometimes I woke up at night and put my arms out in order to feel the air, to understand where I was.
The darkness was thick, I felt like a stranger in that brand new room of my own.
I had desired it, imagined it, I had dreamt of it, hoped for it. But now I was afraid.
Huge and stemless flowers entirely covered the walls. Sometimes I seemed to feel them move and brush my hair with their bright coloured velvet petals.
With the change in my life I had lost my niche in the bed, the one that was lowered in the evening as darkness fell, and was closed during the day. Now I only had my blankets – too light – to bury myself inside.
Then she came one day. My mother’s mother, my grandmother.
Nobody had told me that I should share my room with her. But my grandma was not like the others and I was curious and happy.
She used to wake up before dawn, tiny in her black dress, she seemed to walk through that enchanted space between sleep and wakefulness, as a fairy-tale character. Until small and silent gestures brought her out of the dark.
I used to hear her hoeing in the garden, her flowers, her plants, her memories, the hopes still to be conceived. Little by little, lying in my bed, I learnt to recognize the noises made by her tools, inside her hands, the time of pruning and the time of sowing. I loved to close my eyes and listen to the smells of spring, the summer burning heat, the water pelting down on thirsty earth, the autumn clearing of leaves, the blankets spread on the branches like a cloak against the winter freeze.
She knew how to dwell in the night without being afraid, in her double bed, as high as a mountain. Since she had arrived in my room, I was no longer alone with the dark. I often heard her whisper words, as if there was somebody by her side in whom she could confide.
One night, with my heart in my throat because of a nightmare, I crossed the empty space between my bed and hers. I climbed the mountain and curled up by her side.
Then I searched for her hand, in her palms she carried a lively lump of little beads that she ran through her fingers. She was chanting the same words again and again, words that I didn’t understand. Her whispers lulled me to sleep.
With her I learnt to work the land, the one of the crops and the one of my dreams, I have dug furrows to plant out rose cuttings and seeds of confidence, I tasted the time of dawn to let gestures of care and imagination grow. With her I have learnt to listen to the rhythms of the seasons and to those of the hearts, to see bright silences even in the darkness of fear, to dig inside every little hole to find again roots of lost dreams that are still green.
The trees, the flowers, the plants in my garden still show off to the air the indelible signs of her care. I still wake up at night, and find her voice. I slide my hand under the pillow and cling to the string of her beads, I tick them off without saying a word, until I arrive at the cross, now worn-out, of her prayers. And I find peace in that enchanted space between sleep and wakefulness, where she is still waiting for me.