logo bibliolibro colore

Initiation by the Road

by Valentina Rizzi

It had to happen, sooner or later. Initiation by the road. A stone’s throw from home, when you least expect it, at the town festival of the quarter where I was born and raised, back from summer holiday. And yet the road initiates you whenever it wants and you can’t help it. The reverse refused to function after a month off and I had to push Bibliolibrò to get it out of the Bibliobox. Get a move on, sluggish thing, holidays are over! Scent of salty air, slanting rays and long shadows waiting for the evening. Late summer breeze, potholes, jerks and the weird unmissable sensation of riding my three-wheeler once again. Freedom is in the air this evening: the town festival can wait. I remember the promenade’s beauty, the sky turning pink, children waving their arms and the good feeling of being back home at last, driving Paperinik’s car, the one that turns you into a superhero in the eyes of the world. But within 24 hours my perception of the world irreversibly changes.
I go back to the festival on the second day and discover a foul deed. Don’t worry, you can leave your stuff here, the watchman will take care of it! Fortunately I had taken Biblio with me. The four drawers packed with school copybooks, placed at the four corners of the gazebo that protects Biblio against humidity, have vanished. THEFT. Astonished, I look at my “first time”. The road gives, the road takes. It’s its law. I have been travelling the most absurd places all over Italy and it is just a stone’s throw from home that somebody dared do this to Bibliolibrò, an icon, a symbol, the mascot of all children. Who will give me back my copybooks in time for the beginning of the school year? Who will refund me the hundreds euros I have lost? The news of the theft arrived the same day of the other news: the dissolution of my Municipality infiltrated by the mafia. I sit down and look at the empty gazebo with my face blushing for the sudden slap. Even today, a light breeze is blowing, I smell the sea as my man, my inseparable companion in misfortune, comes to me. He is the first one that hugs me as he helps to set up the stand. Then come small lights, caresses. Tears on the tip of my face sting my eyes and my heart. Ancient ritual gestures repeated as I keep on figuring out who could have done this. A sad awakening from the dream of being invulnerable astride Bibliolibrò. The road is not always a refuge. After so much wandering, it chooses precisely your home to initiate you. Maybe because it’s when you fall that you realize you are not alone. Maybe because your neighbour bakes and offers you cakes to console you, and your parents join you with shrugs and vigorous pats on the back, maybe because then comes Michele.
Three years old. The son of the neighbouring candy sellers. What’s the story today? No Michele this evening I don’t feel like telling stories. Why? Because I feel a little sad. (The pest climbs up the stool and plants a kiss on my cheek). Would you tell this one? No Michele we told it yesterday evening… But he doesn’t give up, he stands up, takes a bunch of books and sits on my lap putting his arms around my neck. I sigh, I shake off rage and fear, pick up RIFUGI, leaf through it, read and invent: a moon voice comes out caressing things, a dirge, a tune from the past. Michele helps me telling the story and falls asleep in my arms, his mother the candy seller sighs and says thank you. The handover and the stroller. Fireworks begin to fill the sky above our heads, I watch them on Biblio next to my man. Hundreds of people with their heads upward flock together exchanging comments. The entire community gathers around the procession of the Virgin Mary in a boat that parades through the Canale dei Pescatori up to the sea and I find myself praying. For my people, for Bibliolibrò, for my love and for these sheets of paper. Protect them, Holy Virgin, protect us. All on the same huge sea road. All under the same sky. Initiation is accomplished.