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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lu Cafausu: episodes 2&3

False Luke - episode 2

The Cafausu will seem useless, the villa it belongs to will vanish in the contortions of the complex, chaotic logic of real estate speculation. In a few decades we’ll be in the suburbs and none of the people who live in the rows of condos will remember the villa.The plots of the peasants of the Arneo, after years of suffering and squatting, have been sorted out thanks to a series of government concessions. The land no longer belongs to the English family. They had already abandoned it anyway, years ago. I know the secret of Catherine, the daughter of the owners of the villa. She fell in love with Uccio, a youth “dark of skin and hair”, from a humble family, proud leader of struggling workers and, by the way, the father of yours truly. They would meet, in secret, at the gazebo, a romantic, fragrant place, near the wall of the estate. Catherine died very young, a few months after giving me birth. But before dying she made Uccio, who had become the designated owner of the land, promise that even if he had to demolish the crumbling villa, even if he had to sell everything, he would never let the gazebo, the place of their lovemaking, be destroyed.

False Luke - episode 3

Maria Concetta is 65 years old. She’s a dressmaker. We’re shut away in a room and she’s washing me with care, using a sponge soaked in water and vinegar. As she washes me, my friend… I see the Cafausu, the sun, the linen curtains shifting in the early summer breeze. Outside, all around, there are grapevines and, above all, olive trees. She stops washing and shows me an old photograph stuck on the mirror over the dresser. She says it’s the first picture that was ever taken in the villa. Catherine was a little girl, she’s running, out of focus; some women are standing around her, they stop and look rather bashfully towards the photographer. In the gazebo you can sense the presence of someone who’s about to serve coffee. The women, all quite tall, have very short, very light dresses, floral prints (pastel colors, I would guess). They are all barefoot. Maria Concetta points to one, the chubbiest, wearing schoolmarm spectacles. «This one was my friend ? she says ? Valentina Scorrano was her name, she came from Presicce, but then she went to Germany.» In the background, away from the others, a very young, skinny girl looks sad, struggling with the breeze as it tries to raise her skirt. «Little one got no panties, would’ja say?» Maria Concetta chuckles, enjoying her vulgar joke, her smile revealing gold teeth. She’s a chiangimuerti (a paid mourner), and they say she got rich fixing up the corpses. In the emotional atmosphere of a wake jewelry has a way of getting lost, especially when the vigil is conducted by a chiangimuerti, closed up with you in a room.


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