DSCF0063The Hand

The child walked up the steep street holding his father’s hand, the father having to pull him along. The street had no tarmac and the child tripped over the stones along the way, out of breath and with tears running down his cheeks.

The child was aware that the enormous doorway of the institution was awaiting him at the end of the street and he was conscious that this was the border between the warmth of his father and the misery of an education, which he did not understand and would never understand, because that place lacked the the fundemental virtue of life: that which complements all virtues: humaneness. But the worse thing of all was that he was not going to see his father again for a long time. The door was blue, turning to the colour of lead in some places due to the weather; the rain and the wind.

The child held his father’s hand and did not want to let go for any reason although the strength of his parent made it an impossible task. He knew that when he arrived at the hospice, or institution or whatever it was, a Franciscan nun would take him in and keep him there but even so when his father turned his back and started to go back down to the street again, he tried to break free from the woman wearing a habit and ran after his father sobbing and hanging on to his hand so that he could take him away with him. But the end was always the same: his father lovingly taking him back to the old nun, who was waiting. She was waiting with an undescribable smile, with the certainty of someone who knows what the end would be after those sobs and the aching heart of another child.

Today this child thinks of that hand more than ever; his father’s hand, his hands, those that, when older, he kissed with love the day the elderly father departed from this life. Alone, he said to himself “now you are leaving me forever, orphanned of hands and heart ……. that heart that was left out of breath when he was left as a child, at the old institution”.