The supporters of concise narratives will be somewhat disappointed by the story I am about to write, since for the necessity of the story, it is impossible to omit details and events that, in their fatal intertwining, determined the particular happenings that I am relating.
I apologize to those, who expecting an extraordinary tale, will perhaps find the whole story trivial and...sentimental.
My opinion is that, besides the strong and painful resignation with which some of the sons of our town have accepted the uprooting from our village, there is in each of them the bursting necessity to recover, at least in their memory, the past, and in particular a childhood often left behind in a manner not always orthodox. For those who like me "approach" the fifty years of age, and have no longer familiarity with their adolescent years, the regaining of old passions is often translated by revisiting the most intimate memories, the most loved images, the most singular emotions, in short by all that which constitutes the single and unique make up which we recognize as our roots.
With the premise of this subjective interpretation of things, it is easier for me to hope for the indulgence of those who could judge...pathetic my respect for the cult of the dead and the spiritual dialogue which I have with them in periods of great fragility. I speak of the time when the need of reassurance and of a promise of certitude is felt in our heart with the same vehemence of when, as children, we used to look at the "reassuring" world of the adults who chased away the specters of our fear.
Often as it happens in the life of many, fate ripped me away from the dearest and deepest affection, and in such situations there is no sense asking oneself the why of this fraudulent injustice "of fate". We are allowed to endure but not to understand certain things. In time I have developed the desire of treasuring, in a discreet corner of my house, the pictures of all those who are no longer among us, and who in some manner have favorably influenced my childhood with their presence, their affection, and the sound of their voices. They are not necessarily relatives, but in my memory they are positive and reassuring landmarks which I love to "revisit " with the same uncontaminated enthusiasm of when I was a young boy. Chance has often helped me to recover pictures, which often came to me through fortuitous and indirect ways. One thing has always bothered me: among so many pictures I was never able to find a picture of my grandfather, a man to whom I was deeply close, driven by the inner feeling of attraction that all the children in the world (especially those of the past) have for their grandparents. Through the years I resigned to the idea of not having a single picture of him, but the old and still unconditional affection, which I nourish in my heart, has made it difficult for me to accept this odd reality.
Last summer, during the vacations, I returned to Fallo for a short period of rest. During my staying there I found out that F., in America for many years, was returning to Fallo for the sad task of bringing back to our town the body of her brother who had died in America. As a young girl, F., with her sister A and her family, lived across from my aunt's house. I used to go often in that narrow street, and although those girls were a little older than I, they used to take care of me, and with maternal affection they put up with my childish behavior. I liked them, as I also loved with reverence and fascination the sad story, told me by someone, of two young boys killed tragically during the war, and whose names, in their memory, had been given to these girls who were born later. Their faces were always present in my memory, even if life had separated us when they left to seek a "better life" elsewhere. To see "that lady" in mourning, so composed in her sorrow, did not diminish my desire to see her again and to speak to her.
After a day from that first brief and silent "encounter", made even more unreal by the funeral, I happened to see F. again from a distance, and I overcame my hesitation and I approached her to speak to her.