When the earth quakes once, twice, three times a day or even more often and your house is there, standing up right but with lots of "scars" on the walls; when you're often woken up in the middle of the night 'cause your bed is shaking and swinging at the rythm of a sinister rattling and creaking and you cannot go on sleeping, well, you start hating your own home because you don't feel safe in there. Your life is inevitably shaken, your self-confidence shattered to pieces, your optimism, hopes and dreams are hidden away in a deep black hole inside your heart waiting for better times.
I force myself to think about those unfortunate who lost their dear, houses, businesses in the earthquake on April 6th and "Look", I say to myself, "you are luckier". But it doesn't work, it's even worse. I go on with a constant sense of anxiety and shakiness, wishing to go and live somewhere else, to escape. I did it for a while, I went to London for some days at Easter but I had to come back, eventually.
Inevitably our conversations at school and at home, with friends and family focus on the earthquake, on our colleagues who live nearer the epicentre and aren't coming to work, who will instead finish the school - year in schools closer to their collapsed or condemn - habitations and are living in tents or hotels, on other colleagues who are looking for a temporary accomodation here, in our town, because there are about 100km between the epicentre and us - so, maybe, it is better to move here. Even though we are trying hard to go on with our routines, it is not that easy. For example, while I'm teaching my classes, reading Conrad or Wilde, I start thinking..."Will I be able to act and react properly if...?" "Will I be able to contain their panic if ...?"
"It will pass", I repeat to myself, "It will pass away" but I can't avoid thinking that, anyway, it will come back sooner or later. It has already happened: in 1980 when I was a teenager, in 2000 when I was at home with my two little sons and felt desperately powerless and inadequate at protecting them, and now again ... and it doesn't stop ... it doesn't end.
Natural catastrophes, like wars, can be radically destabilizing. So I want to close this post with some lines from a poem written during the war in ex-Yugoslavia by an Italian poet-writer, Erry De Luca, I greatly admire:
"In guerra le parole dei poeti
proteggono la vita
insieme alle preghiere di una madre
In guerra gli orfani
e quelli senza un libro
sono senza riparo"
For those who don't understand Italian I'll try to translate:
"In war-time the words of the poets
protect your life
together with the prayers of a mother
In war-time the orphans
and those without a book
I'm lucky then: I've got plenty of beautiful books and I love poetry. And I've got my mother's prayers as well, that is , my family's support and love. It will pass, it will end, it will fade away...