One morning in July, I was in an area of Rome a little off the beaten track to find a mechanical that I had reported to a friend because we had to refurbish our old Volvo 240 Polar!
I was at one of the those corners that fortunately still exist in Rome … outside the city, the oldest areas, into the countryside and, as they say in Rome: “next to the city ring.” (that is, near the ring road, the main highway connecting the whole of Rome).
A small gate and a small square with the old vintage cars, this is what the mechanical workshop consisted of, nothing more. Little did I know that this place would have “enriched” much my heart.
As I waited my turn the sun was so strong that I have taken refuge in the shade of some fruit trees that had grown spontaneously in the small square of the workshop.
I realized that in a corner, in total silence, there was a man, with the face of those who have the signs of a life intensely lived … was there, with his hoe to clear up his backyard.
I approached him on tiptoe, I did not want to disturb him, you could tell that this was his entire world … that of yesterday and today.
As I looked up at the tree plum which fortunately was protecting me from the summer heat, I heard behind me a voice that spoke to me:
“Last week I climbed the ladder to pick them up but my niece is angry with me because he was afraid that I might fall.”
It was him.
That elderly gentleman with sweetness, told me about an act of love towards him by the nephew, with whom he now found himself sharing the house, but in his eyes there was the very strong light of those who did not want give in … he wanted to take the plums strut by HIMSELF.
I immediately realized that he was waiting more for an excuse to talk to someone, and I would have never left.
He leaned to his hoe and began to narrate …
Of his life, intense.
Of when he was little and how the neighborhood where he was born was so different from today.
Of the war.
He told me with the chest swelling with pride how he had planted his tomatoes by himself.
“Because you know, Miss, my daughters wanted to lock me in a place with other seniors like me, because they were worried about me because of my old age.”
I said nothing, I listened in silence to his every word.
“But I said to my daughters: as long as I live I’m not going in there”
He “yelled”, forcefully, in his own way.
Independence and a life that he defended with all the tenacity that he had to learn to have in his life.
A message of life that still happens today to receive occasionally, when you stop to talk to those men or women who make you go back in time and capture moments of a history that belongs to us.
I would not wanted to leave that man anymore. I wanted him to talk for hours.
That determination he had with his family was nothing compared to that that he had lived a thousand times in the course of his years.
He wanted to go on living, but in his own way.
I just laughed and nodded and he understood everything.
He already had someone telling him what to do.