During one of the Italian lesson I taught to the group of Malians, an elderly man and his wife showed up on our door step bearing beds and chairs.
It has been a peculiar time, on both, local and a national level. The guys have been in town for a few months now, but still everything was new – for us, for them and for the villagers. The message, however is very obvious. “Why do we spend money on those people? What are they doing here? What do they want from us? If the Italians suffer from the unemployment, how can those guys expect to find a job?”
Nobody acknowledges them in town, particularly not the young locals.
While I drill the verb “to be” and “to have” into the Malians’ heads
an elderly couple knocks on the door and ask for help unloading some stuff from their Ape. The guys jumped up to help them immediately. I ask the couple if they know the guys, or if maybe some of them had asked for the stuff that were being unloaded from the Ape.
“Hey you! Calm down! We have lived through the war and we were also displaced, so we know exactly what leaving everything dear you heart behind feels like. This morning, while we were tidying up our attic, we found this old furniture, still in a good condition and I remembered the news I’ve read recently about refugees coming over here, in Gallicano. And so we thought they might make a use of that. It’s not a good practice to throw things away, particularly when they’re perfectly fine to use”.
Just that simple. The man and the lady greet the guys, who show their appreciation, each in their own language and then the couple leaves for home on their Ape in a simple manner, which there is something very charming about.
Stefano Elmi (words)
Simone Togneri (illustration)