When children are much more perceptive than adults give them credit for…
From Ritanna Armeni‘s Hour After Hour
My grandchildren appear on the computer screen. Costanza with funny pigtails, Giacomo with a tooth missing.
My daughter’s premise: “I’ve explained what coronavirus is. I had to explain why they’re not at school and can’t leave home. I’ve done it in a way so as not to frighten them, I’ve told them it’s just for a short time and that they’ll soon be able to run again, go back to school and to the playground. Meanwhile, it’s a lovely opportunity to be together. We can play games, draw, watch films until late – Kids! Nonna is here!”
“Of course I shan’t alarm them. You think I’m crazy?”
She ponders this and lets it go.
“Hi! How are you? Happy to be at home with mamma and papà?”
Costanza: “Yes, nonna, we watch a film every evening and go to bed late. Do you know why it’s called coronavirus?”
“Because it’s the most powerful virus. It’s as strong as a king, that’s why it’s called corona, like ‘crown’. It can kill us all. Imagine, we can all die.”
“No, no, it’s an illness, and you recover from illnesses. Besides, this virus is afraid of children so keeps away from them. It only goes to elderly people.”
“So is it coming to you and nonno? Are you going to die?”
“Nonno and I are very strong. Your mamma said you’ve done some drawings. Giacomo, can I see yours?”
A sheet of paper painted black appears on the screen, with a white skull in the centre.
“Do you like it, nonna?”
“Yes, it’s lovely.”
They seem relaxed. But as far as believing that story about coronavirus being fun – not a chance.
The vital importance of touch…
From Stefania Auci‘s It Would Be Beautiful If There Were Light
I am a very “earthy” person: for me, affection is conveyed through physical contact, through gestures. Maybe I’m the only one who likes to experience things so intensely (some say “explosively” and I take this as a compliment), but I wonder if those who have asked us to stay shut at home have, even just for a second, considered this kind of sacrifice. What it means to be unable to touch one another.
Perhaps they didn’t consider the fact that physicality could be sublimated into a kind of Macedonian phalanx of emotions where you huddle together and pick up your fallen companion to avoid creating a breach in the formation and to keep advancing. Now if there’s one question I have about the future, it’s this: how long will it take before we can touch one another once again and not be afraid of what might happen?
Creating little moments of joy during the lockdown…
From Caterina Bonvicini‘s Letter to Florence Noiville
To stop ourselves from crying every other day or whenever we read the report from the protezione civile, all we can do is create moments of joy. We run on the landing, where we’ve installed a small treadmill. Every evening at six, we sing on the balcony with whoever else comes out. We arrange videochat drinks with close friends. And, for the last few days – our most recent brainwave – my husband and I have been dancing to a different song every evening.
During the lockdown, while on the balcony, Anna Dalton notices an elderly lady in the flat opposite and strikes up a conversation. When the elderly lady disappears, Anna Dalton is worried, until…
From Anna Dalton‘s 6 p.m.
I stare. Yes, it really is her. Only two floors higher than usual. “Oh, good, you’re all right! I hadn’t seen you for a while, and I was concerned… well, because you’re at home alone and don’t have anyone.”
She smiles. “I wish I were alone. These days my husband won’t stop talking. The flat downstairs is one we usually rent out but it’s vacant at the moment. I go there to self-isolate from him. Otherwise I’ll end up throwing him off the balcony before the quarantine is over.”
I cannot believe it.
“But thank you for your concern.”
Elisabetta Gnone tells her husband bedtime stories in which animals speak about the human quarantine, when “Nature has never been so healthy as since man got ill.”
From Elisabetta Gnone‘s Covid Revolution
“Where the hell have they all gone? It’s incredible. Ligi, come and see.”
“Oh, bloody hell! What kind of a bomb—”
“No, no, it’s not a bomb. Did you hear anything go boom?”
“There wasn’t any boom.”
“That’s right, no boom.”
“Then where have they gone?”
“How should I know? It’s a mystery. They’ve disappeared.”
“What – all of them?”
“All of them.”
“That’s really weird. So what now?”
“Gigio, Ligi, have you seen it – so strange, the city is deserted.”
“Hi, Steve. We were just talking about it. Is it the same everywhere else?”
“Even the churchyard?”
“And the city centre?”
“Not a soul.”
“I can’t believe it.”
“I’m telling you, I’ve just come from there. I was standing by the statues of Garibaldi, waiting for the morning tour groups and instead I’m back with an empty stomach.”
On how the coronavirus lockdown is affecting some couples.
From Massimo Gramellini’s Love in the Times of Coronavirus
Forced to stay shut in within domestic walls with the partner they had been keeping at a distance from time immemorial, they’ve found a treasure trove just where they had stopped searching for one – in their own homes. A lady from Milan wrote that rediscovering her husband has finally prompted her to shake off her lover (she sighted and torpedoed him in the only possible location, in the queue at the supermarket), who after five years had become like a second husband, only not as stimulating or transgressive as the official one. A certain G.C., on the other hand, whose initials I don’t suppose conceal Giacomo Casanova, has spared no details in describing to me the wonders of sex rediscovered with the only person Giuseppe Conte’s government still allows him to touch. His wife.”
And, finally, when your body is in one country but your heart in another…
From Jhumpa Lahiri‘s Letter to Italy
What I cannot understand is some people’s attitude towards an Italy that is currently locked down and struck by an unprecedented crisis. In many it arouses so much fear and even horror. Unfathomably little compassion. Absolutely nothing from the US President. For that I am ashamed.
I still feel protected by Italy, even by an Italy on its knees, by an Italy bent on the most absolute isolation. It is at this very moment that Italy is close to me, that, despite the ocean and, in addition, Trump’s ban, she transmits to me her strength and her dignity. For example, she continues to transmit her love and advice on how to protect myself and my family.
Translated by Katherine Gregor
ANDRÀ TUTTO BENE (All Shall Be Well)
by Various Authors (Garzanti e-book, 2020)
Read Katherine Gregor’s blog about Andrà tutto bene.
Katherine Gregor grew up in Italy and France before going to university in England. She has been a theatrical agent, press agent, teacher and one or two other things before becoming a literary translator from Italian, French and, on occasion, Russian. She also writes original material and is currently working on a non-fiction book.
Read previous posts in The Italianist series:
THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. ANDRÀ TUTTO BENE (All Shall Be Well), Writers at the Time of the Quarantine
THE ITALIANIST: From MARA. UNA DONNA DEL NOVECENTO by Ritanna Armeni, translated by Katherine Gregor
THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. MARA. UNA DONNA DEL NOVECENTO (Mara. A Woman of the Twentieth Century) by Ritanna Armeni
THE ITALIANIST: From CON I PIEDI NEL FANGO: CONVERSAZIONI SU POLITICA E VERITÀ by Gianrico Carofiglio (with Jacopo Rosatelli), translated by Katherine Gregor
THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. CON I PIEDI NEL FANGO: CONVERSAZIONI SU POLITICA E VERITÀ (With Your Feet in The Mud: Conversations About Politics and Truth) by Gianrico Carofiglio (with Jacopo Rosatelli)
THE ITALIANIST: From Roberto Tiraboschi’s NIBELLI ZONTRO, translated by Katherine Gregor
THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. Roberto Tiraboschi’s NIBELLI ZONTRO
THE ITALIANIST: From Caterina Bonvicini’s TUTTE LE DONNE DI, translated by Katherine Gregor
THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. Caterina Bonvicini’s TUTTE LE DONNE DI
THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor