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‘You can lose your way groping among the shadows of the past. It’s frightening

how many people and things there are in a man’s past that have stopped

moving. The living people we’ve lost in the crypts of time sleep so soundly side

by side with the dead that the same darkness envelops them all.’

Louis-Ferdinand Cèline,

Journey to the End of the Night

Rain. It fell softly upon the terracotta tiles, the dull drumming

echoing around the thick walls of the church. Head bowed, my nose

was filled with the wet and warm and sweet smell of soggy air.



I like the rain, so did my father; the soft melody, a relief from the

stifled silence of the darkened space. My father would tell me,


trova sempre la sua strada verso il mare

. Water will always find its way back

to the sea. He had the sea in his veins.

The priest’s sharp bell shook me from my dream, slicing through

the silence. He wore a thick black tunic, that looked like it carried

the dust from centuries past. Bible in hand, he threw a solemn glance

towards his audience, then strode to the polished box in the centre

of the room. ‘


, if any of Signor Valante’s family would like to

come and wish him a final farewell,

avanti, per favore.

A slight splash upon my nape made me flinch, then relax as the

cool droplet trickled along my spine, giving way under my tight

collar. They dress differently in


, a funeral is seen as an event;

yet here, everyone’s faces were downcast, in solemn sincerity. My

shirt tightened across my chest. I felt the gaze of my sister upon me

in expectation, piercing from beneath her latticed veil. I didn’t look

at her.

La pioggia è pesante

. I had to go forward. ‘


… come on!’ I

frowned. ‘Just get this over with.’

The news of his death had not shaken me; not nearly as much as

the fragile voice of the news bearer on the receiver; I guess the

trained hardness of my heart resisted such emotion. He had wanted

that, I’m sure. I picture him, on the train station platform, wearing

his salt stained shirt baring his tanned leathery chest; skin, hardened

like pelt. His face twisted, as if in the full glare of the sun, a grimace.

Whether he was pained by my departure, or purely by my existence,

I don’t know. Through a six-year-old’s eyes, this was a cruel sight and

a contradiction to the idea that family loved you, that family and

home were forever. He didn’t even raise one of his calloused hands

in addio, farewell. He had gripped my shoulder,

colui che serve il dio


Il Silenzio E

Il Sentimento,


E La Paura

(Silence And



And Fear)

Carla Mileo