Story of a curtain and emergency houses

Story of a curtain and emergency houses

“They don't remember the days.
They remember the moments."
(C. Pavese)

This morning, while Mom was arranging some objects in the closet of my home in Genzano, suddenly the white curtain with orange flowers appeared from the central shelf.
These were the ones that were packed by grandmother Annarella in 1983 for the windows of what Valentina called "the little house", that is the prefabricated building donated by the Bergamo inhabitants to us, Lionese earthquake victims.
Suddenly, I recall the memory of distant times.
The container that was given to us was white and blue, rectangular in shape, with a kitchen, two bedrooms and bathroom.
It was furnished in a simple but refined way.
To us, who were children, it seemed a cozy and safe house, even if humid in winter and warm in summer.
It was the small and safe refuge in which to dream. I often looked out of the small windows that led into the rear part of the "Bergamo Village", where there were the yellow-ochre containers, with an irregular shape.
There Edmondo and the Little Sisters lived who, with their presence, made the days more peaceful. I loved to observe the life that began to flow out of the cabin, sitting on the straw chair and moving that curtain, forgotten and found again this morning ... I liked to look outside, staying inside, safe.
The window was an opening to the world, which began to pulse again after the earthquake was over, and also it gave protection. Every morning, drinking milk and Nesquik, and every evening, observing the lights of the street lamps, I moved that curtain and ... I looked.

What I saw was my mood.
Even the cold days were bright and the landscape was always clear: the trees, the fields, the people gave the impression of a cold fragility, as if a simple gust of wind or a bump could shatter them again.
The air vibrated, like our lives.
I looked from my window, beyond that cuurtain, at a landscape that was already part of me and "I felt emotions that were already in the landscape".
Even today, after thirty-seven years, the curtain made me feel the same sense of ephemeral stability as a child and my thoughts immediately went to Bergamo, to the "Alpine city of Italy", so far from Irpinia, but strongly close .
I don't know whether to call it randomness. I don't know if it's just a joke of fate.
I know for sure that, since this morning, I have Bergamo in my head.
I keep those past moments very close.

Written by:
Paola Aiello

Professor at Albano Laziale

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