I walked quickly, track 1, track 2, and so on. I remember that I stopped because I had a pebble in my shoe ever since I got on the subway at Battistini. I arrived at Termini and decided to surrender to the will of the pebble. I stopped and let it go free, bye bye pebble. Damn you were a ball breaker.
I put my shoe back on and I looked up. In front of me a father is saying goodbye to a kid I assume is his son.
The father had a big suitcase, like the ones that make you think of a long trip. His son had a small backpack, like the ones that make you think of the days you spent yawning while the chemistry teacher talks to you about sulphur and… you know, that kind of stuff.
They were facing each other, and from a distance, I thought the train still had to arrive. I approached quickly, hoping, who knows why, that the train would be late. I came close enough to realize that the father was searching nervously for his son’s hand. A small hand that timidly let itself be found.
They were two little figures brushing against each other in the middle of a track, a track in the middle of other tracks, in the middle of one of the most crowded stations in the history of stations. There were hundreds, actually thousands of reasons that could have prevented me from noticing that little bubble of love.
A track, for example, that as Gustavo rightly observed (a seasoned expert in tracks, or so he had introduced himself) is so long “that when I get to the end at least I expect a fountain with a plaque above it that clearly says “YOU GO GUSTAVO, BOLT CAN’T HOLD A CANDLE TO YOU”; a considerable number of little electronic cars that mow you down to the sound of BEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP, that if by chance you do not hear the BEEEEEEEEEEP, you will definitely hear the YOU GOTTA GET OUTTA THE WAY I’M WORKIN’, of the nice guy at the wheel; the sprightly octogenarian in front of you who with her infinite shopping bags will always walk on the left if you try to pass her on the left or on the right if you try to pass her on the right.
Not to mention the entire series of happenings and mishaps, people and characters, dramas and melodramas, sounds and moods, races and chases, sensations and lack of actions that in just ten minutes Termini is able to give you.
In the midst of this microcosm, however, I saw them. At that moment that father and that son did not know it, but they were the navel of Italy’s largest station, a single detail capable of stopping time and space, mine at least.
The loudspeaker brought us back to dry land. The father swallowed his tears, the son fixed his hat so as not to think of his. The time for a caress, the train arrived. I timidly approached what I thought for sure was a farewell.
“Oh dad, I can’t believe that that every time you go to grandma’s town for a couple of days you have to buy a suitcase to bring home prosciutto and jars of salami. You’re the one who’ll have to deal with mom!”
And so, the detail that stopped my time and my space that day was not a tragic farewell between father and son, but … a jar of salami. This too, is Termini.
Story by Marica Fantauzzi
Translation by Berenice Cocciolillo