"Excuse me, you are F.?" I asked somewhat clumsily.
"Yes..." She answered, a little surprised.
"I am ...so, an so...".
I saw in her look a glimmer of pleasure in remembering a distant past when, we still children and carefree, had seen each other. It was a brief meeting and which, by fate, will not happen again, but which had given a precious sensation to my memories....
The following day, I was approached by a young man whom I didn't know but had seen in company of S., the fifteen-year old daughter of one of my dearest childhood friend. The boy told me in a kidding but respectful tone, that the day before he had seen me talking with F. and asked me why. Frankly, his question surprised me, but I told him why I was talking with her. Soon I discovered the reason for his curiosity:
"The woman with whom you were talking is my aunt, and I was surprised that you knew her since she lives in America...".
So I learned that the boy was the son of A. (F.'s sister), and I understood why he was so inquisitive. The following day I met him again, and he approached me and told me that in his house he had seen a picture of me when I was a young boy, that is of me when I was at the age when I used to play with his mother and his aunt. It is not easy for me to describe the enthusiasm I felt at that news. Perhaps the younger people today would be cynically surprised, but the older ones would understand how precious can be a rare picture of us when we were children, given the limited technology of those times, and also the vital need of the adults, to save their time and their economic resources to more essential and futile needs.
The following days I believe to have earned the title of "interplanetary pain in ...." with the same tenacity with which an Olympic athlete aspires to the podium of honor: I "chocked" the poor kid begging him to get for me that picture that he had mentioned so that I could have made a copy of it for me to keep as a souvenir. I had no luck and finally I came to my senses and decided not to torture the poor kid and not to become his summer "nightmare".
This year I went back to Fallo for a short weekend. One evening, after supper, I heard someone knock at door, and totally unexpected I saw at the doorway the boy whom I had bothered with the story of the picture the previous year. He had in his hand the unmistakable envelope of a photo shop, in which evidently was the so desired copy of the picture that I had asked for.
Suddenly I felt a childish wild joy, and like a little boy in front of toys, I couldn't wait to open that envelope to see its content. I already tasted the pleasure of seeing shortly the picture of me in that distant and dear epoch, and I felt so happy.
But the overpowering emotion and the surprise that the content of that envelope would have given me were a thousand light years far from my imagination: that picture showed me as a carefree child but above all... hugging my grandfather.
I felt a shiver running along my back and a deep sense of gratitude to those mysterious ways of fate which unexpectedly had satisfied my desire, for so long disappointed, of having a picture of my grandfather.
Never, really never, I would have dared to hope for one of his hug after his death.