A new day

Through the streets of Rome, I run into a girl with big eyes; she warmly smiles at me pulling her lips, but I hardly remember her. – However, I remember you – she says.

She notices I am weird. – You’re cold – it seemed like a statement, more than a question, and so she asks me if I want some hot beverage or something to eat. I gladly accept. While we’re talking, she reminds me how I met her: I was at a reception center and she studied photography. She took me a picture with a white wall at my back, I remember it clearly.

-For a university project, If I am right- I tell her. She nodes her head to say yes, smiling at me. Then she checks her phone quickly in her bag, she looks at me and she makes a weird question.

- What about you? Do you remember when you arrived to Rome?-

 

My entire life was inside a canvas bag. The sea to cross in front of me: that was just the beginning.

The long march on that expanse of water seemed so brief but it turned out to be an agony when, stored in that boat, the suffocating hot from the other’s breathes, the hunger and the thirst started to grip our guts. Tales were the only escape. The only salvation.

During the journey a lots of us couldn’t find a comfortable position to sleep: we were too much and forced to stand next to each other in that cramped space. A woman cradled her baby. I noticed that the baby’s head was in an unnatural position and soon I realized he wasn’t sleeping. His mother turned her look into the void: the line between life and death was so labile there.

Once we landed, I realized that the difficult space on the boat was just the first of some I would feel on my skin. The soldiers crammed us into what they called “reception center”, in a small city of south Italy. Inside, some people used to sleep above crammed mattresses, surrounded by peeling walls and embellished here and there by some street writers. I had foods and a roof upon my head, I was fine with it, but in a couple of day they sent us to another center, like we were parcel post.

Rome, the eternal city as it was called: the one that officially became my home. In that center I met new people that took me like I suddenly was part of her family and they told me how that place, apparently just a decaying building, gave hope to people who had lost it.

But, on a sunny day, the center closed, throwing to the street those people who thought to be safe, again. Everything returned on the starting point. Outside that safe doors, the thing that alienated us was wandering again – who knows where. The daily goal was one: eat.

 

I tell her that during my pilgrimage through the city, tired, I decided to sit in a corner of the street. I explain to her that in my odyssey there wasn’t just darkness, but also something good: a sweet pittance. A cold night of December, on the edge of the street, a little girl came near to me, while I was trying to warm up with an old, worn duvet. She must have been five, she had golden hair and emerald eyes; she gave me a piece of her sandwich, with her little hands. She smiled at me and I accepted the offer, smiling back. I ignored the edgy look of her mother who pushed the little girl away, and I tried to sleep on that cold tongue of asphalt.

That night I couldn’t sleep very well; then I wondered again through the city, waiting for the sunrise, and I admired the first rays of light running into me. The cold air gathered my breathe into small clouds, I smiled.

 

-It was a new day- I tell her finishing my story.

The girl I barely knew looked on the other side with her watery eyes. Then, with one of her hushed smiles, she told me I was right: it would be a new day.