I remember the long silences, punctuated by the hissing of the wind from the small neighbouring valleys, the faint light of a carbide lamp, and the panting of the puppies who had taken refuge from the bad weather in the sheep pen. The only off note, so to speak, was the whistling and crackling of the radio that my grandfather was trying to tune to the Sardinian news programme.
I remember that my grandfather, who hated Americans (it wasn’t them who invented jeans, it was the dockworkers in Genoa!) used to eat anchovies from a pan every day and that he was the only one in my family who had books and a typewriter. He told me he was self-taught. A few years ago by chance I found some things he had written and I can confirm that he was very self-taught. But the damage was done, both with anchovies and with the writing thing.
I remember the first horse I rode. It was a piebald mare named Electra. I remember her as the most beautiful horse in the stables. The instructor was very strict and a little bit crazy too. Once I spent half the lesson with super-long stirrups, which I couldn’t even reach with my feet… But she, Electra, was always perfect, always gentle and elegant, and she had a scent that I’ve never smelled since.
I remember when I found the piano in the lounge – what a surprise! – and after placing an ear on the keyboard I ran to my mother, upset, saying ‘it won’t play’.
I remember trips in the camper with my family. My father would drive through the night and I would fall asleep looking down on the lights of the other cars from above.
I remember I used to find tadpoles completely fascinating and when my teacher brought tadpoles into the classroom to let us observe their transformation over the following days, I was the happiest girl in the world. And the word that stuck in my mind? Metamorphosis. I was yet to discover Kafka or Escher.
I remember when my sister and I used to go and steal fruit from our neighbour in the country, she was completely mad and would scream at us! We would run away with our knickers full of apples. I can still remember the taste of those apples.
I remember when my grandmother used to read nursery rhymes to my sister and me from a book she gave us. Some were so funny that we asked her to read them over and over again, and each time she would introduce some variation that made them even funnier.
I remember when we went with Mum for a walk in the forest and found a tiny kitten. Mum came over and asked me what I wanted to call it and I said Lili. Later we went to buy an elegant red collar for it.
I remember the “pitch” near my home, where we used to go to play football. It was surrounded by a very high iron fence, because we weren’t actually supposed to go in there. But someone had removed a bar from the fence. And that was the entrance. So there.