Are you hungry?
This what happened upon returning home.This is how my journey to pain and hope starts.
Samey observing people in a bar in Augusta, curious and reticent. Samey smiling at me and filling my heart with joy when I stand next to him. Samey looking scared as we enter the bar and follows me tightly as we cross people’s eyes.
We drink a cappuccino and I feel like this is the first time for him. What amazes me is his smile. We speak a lot, I ask him many questions. We call his home and he speaks to some relatives and then I drive him to a school converted into an improvised centre for refugees’ reception. He wants me to go in and see where he lives. His smile reassures me. I want to believe I will find nice little blue rooms, painted with care, rather than randomly placed anonymous folding beds.
We walk up to the second floor, he points at a folding bed in the corridor and with great satisfaction says, “I live here.” Something inside me breaks; I can’t control my tears while he looks at me puzzled because he doesn’t understand why I’m crying.
*Photo copyright: Michelangelo Mignosa
You see their eyes at night when you go to bed and your heart shrinks into an iron cage. I wonder who loves these children of the Earth; who will comfort these children of pain; whom do they pray when they are scared. And I feel guilty. I feel a huge pain and sense of guilt listening to their stories. Because my wealth caused pain and violence, I’m looking for redemption, for relief for me and them.
I go from courage to sadness, from strength to weakness. I never know what the best thing to do is and I only try to make the centre where they live, a better place. I sweep the floor, I listen and comfort them. But comfort does not exist, it’s fake, I feel an hypocrite saying it since I can go home and hug my dad, mum and aunty.
Saying “hi” can work the magic if it brings a smile on their faces. Saying “hi” turns into a powerful thing if it makes them look up and stop staring at the floor. Saying “hi” can briefly delete memories of horror and torture.
Yesterday I was asked what the meaning of life is; I asked the same question to my family while having dinner. Different answers from different people but basically all the same. The meaning of life for me is only Love. Immense and extreme love. The Love that turns tables, the Love that heals the wounds. The Love for others that opens your heart and rips your chest apart when they hug you. The feeling of doing something beautiful. Something beautiful in a world full of horror. Something that can turn, for a few seconds, these children of pain into children of fortune. And Love can be called Zagara (T. N. Orange blossom, flower of the orange tree widely grown in Sicily) and can be born in a super tiny village in Sicily from a mother who wants to pay tribute to the land that rescued her after her journey of hope.
Translation by Francesca Colantuoni
Original text by Maria Grazia Patania