Nine stories about love Giovanna Zoboli
Nine stories (plus one) to explain love in all its essence and intelligence, an emotion that should never be taken for granted, always alert, sometimes difficult, but at the heart of what we need to live with ourselves and others as we share this experience of life together.
Book published with the support of DirecĂ§ĂŁo-Geral do Livro e das Bibliotecas / Portugal
nine stories about love
This book is dedicated to the memory of Gabriella Miroglio in accordance with the wishes of her children and grandchildren. A limited edition was printed on fabric in 2010 for private use.
Nine stories about love Original Title: Nove storie sull’amore © 2011, Topipittori, Milano, Italia All rights reserved for all countries Topipittori, Viale Isonzo, 16 20135 Milano, Italy www.topipittori.it Nine stories about love by Giovanna Zoboli and Ana Ventura Publisher: © 2011, Pistache Moustache Pistache Moustache Carrer La Salle, 56 07450 Santa Margalida, Mallorca, Spain Translation: Patricia Crotty Design: Marina and Antonella Del Cinque Graphic art: Sergio Sánchez Gómez Photolithography: Digital Art (VR) Printer: Grafiche AZ (VR) All rights reserved Printed in Italy ISBN: 978-84-614-5895-0 Work published with the support of Direcção-Geral do Livro e das Bibliotecas / Portugal
Giovanna Zoboli Ana Ventura
nine stories about love, one about happiness and a greeting
8 A watering can didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what love was. 10 It was late and they were all rushing around. 12 There was a man who felt full of rain. 14 It was wintertime, and a girl dreamt she was sprouting. 16 A little girl found a bird. 18 Once there was a woman who didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have anything, just a tiny house and a tin watering can. 20 It was night-time, and everyone was fast asleep.
Apart from one boy who was reading a book. 22 Once there was a really busy man who just thought about himself all the time. 24 One day a child arrived from somewhere, someplace. 26 Once there was a man who saw a plant growing between the tiles on his balcony and thought: 28 Once upon a time, a woman said goodbye to her land which faded away into the distance
A watering can didn’t know what love was. He was a good watering can with a fine long spout, and was held in great respect. He wanted to please everybody and gave the same amount of water to all the potted plants. No one could find fault with him since he worked with such diligence. One day, he saw a plant growing among some stones. It was so delicate that a mere glance would make it bend over. The flowers were tiny and appeared insignificant unless you looked carefully. However, on close inspection, they resembled a bright carpet of stars. The watering can was overcome by a strange feeling. He thought about the night, and sighed. He thought about the day, and trembled. He wanted to give the little plant some water, but was afraid that it would be too much, or maybe too little. A fly, who knew all about emotions, alighted on a wall nearby and said “See, love is when we don’t think we already know what someone else needs”.
It was late and they were all rushing around. Some of them were finishing the last of the summer chores, some were stocking up on dew, some were trying to figure out what direction the wind was blowing in, and some were swearing at a thieving bee. “What kind of a time is this to sprout?” the newest one said to himself as soon as he opened his eyes. He was small so he was afraid of doing everything wrong. Just like anyone who doesn’t know anything about the world and thinks that everything is wonderful. His mother was very busy too: happily dashing towards autumn in fits and starts. “I’ll make a scarf for you” she thought, “and a pair of socks, a hat and nice warm gloves. I’ll explain what the snow is, and the darkness that falls so early, the blue silence, and the smell of ice-cold air”. In the meantime she hugged him to herself so tightly that all that squeezing made a thought pop out from his head. It said “Welcome!”
There Â was Â a Â man Â who Â felt Â full Â of Â rain. Â â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m Â all Â wetâ&#x20AC;? Â he Â thought, Â and Â was Â ashamed Â because Â people Â love Â the Â sun, Â and Â just Â grumble Â more Â than Â anything Â else Â when Â the Â weather Â is Â bad. Â One Â really Â hot Â summerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Â day, Â he Â passed Â by Â a Â garden. Â There Â was Â a Â small Â tree Â there Â that Â was Â half Â dead Â from Â the Â heat. Â It Â was Â in Â such Â bad Â shape Â that Â it Â wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Â even Â complaining Â any Â more. Â It Â was Â a Â bird, Â WKH WUHHĂ&#x2013;V IULHQG ZKR VDZ WKH UDLQ Ă&#x;OOHG PDQ Ă&#x2DC;:HĂ&#x2013;YH been Â waiting Â for Â you!â&#x20AC;? Â it Â said. Â The Â man Â was Â so Â touched Â by Â the Â idea Â that Â someone Â was Â actually Â waiting Â for Â him, Â right Â there, Â at Â that Â moment, Â in Â that Â garden, Â that Â KH EHJDQ WR FU\ +H FULHG VR PXFK Ă&#x;UVW ZLWK VDGQHVV then Â with Â joy, Â that Â the Â tree Â felt Â all Â the Â moisture. Â That Â was Â all Â it Â needed Â to Â return Â to Â its Â days Â of Â green Â glory, Â and Â it Â covered Â itself Â in Â foliage. Â At Â the Â start, Â the Â foliage Â was Â just Â imagined, Â but Â it Â was Â enough Â to Â bring Â the Â tree Â back Â to Â life Â and Â thank Â the Â man Â and Â his Â wonderfully Â refreshing Â tears. Â
It was wintertime, and a girl dreamt that she was sprouting. She began with a small insignificant bud that was almost invisible, right beneath the surface. But since this girl didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do things by halves, she let it grow a little at a time, night after night. Out came a stalk, roots, stems, tendrils, leaves, stamens, pistils, petals, and even some fruit followed by seeds that made music every time there was a gust of wind. She also covered herself with a bright green bark. Summer arrived, and hornets buzzed around her as the birds looked down and thought it might be a good place to stop over in the future. Some children even came to play nearby. It was wintertime, and the girl slept, with a clear brow, filled with sunshine and the far-off summer still buzzing in her ears. The childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hands were cold from the snow so they warmed themselves against her.
A little girl found a bird. Perhaps it had been blown down from its nest by a storm, or maybe it had got lost and then lost heart which happens to people sometimes. The girl, who had long wanted a nice, lively toy like an animal, picked it up, cleaned it, and then went to dig up some worms to give it to eat. She made a bed of dry straw and then put a roof over its head, just like the one she had. The bird looked at the roof and wondered what it was. It had never seen one before. It realised that nothing could get through: rain, light, warmth, darkness, coldness or air... One day, the bird saw an open window and took flight. Finally it could smell the rain again, see the midnight shadows and the noon shadows and feel all those draughts that are really just like invisible roads. So it chirped “Home!” and the little girl, who had never heard its voice, found out that it could sing. It sang so well that she felt her heart fly off after the bird. And for some reason, she didn’t cry, but was happy.
Once there was a woman who didn’t have anything, just a tiny house and a tin watering can. She could be seen walking the streets in both summer and winter, carrying her watering can full of rainwater just in case anyone needed some. When she passed by, the people, who never needed anything, would say “There’s that crazy woman with the watering can”. On the other hand, the plants, who needed everything, would say “It’s the Lady of the Watering Cans”. Time passed and the town became famous for its greenness, the blooming flowers and greenery in every crack in the walls, the courtyards, the footpaths, the parking lots, the roads, the streets, the underpasses, the pavements, the bridges, the ceilings, the floors, the schools, the houses, the army barracks, the churches, the hospitals, and even the prisons. People came from all over the world to study that watering can, which was really just a five-litre can with lots of dents.
It was night-time, and everyone was fast asleep. Apart from one boy who was reading a book. “The dark” thought the boy “seems to be made specially for reading stories”. So the story, who was an inquisitive sort, said to the boy “And what are kids made for?” The boy thought about this for a bit. “For growing” came to mind. But that seemed more like something a tree or bush would say than a boy. “Hmm” he said, uncertainly. And he didn’t say anything. So the story continued, and described a beautiful garden where children hung from trees like apples, birds studied music, flowers thought like philosophers and houses were as clean and light as leaves. The boy stayed listening to the end. Then he thought “I would be honoured to be a member of this family of grass and animals”. So he put his heart and soul into growing.
Once there was a very busy man who just thought about himself all the time. Even if he was sitting comfortably on a bench, or at the beach, or in a field on a nice sunny day, he would only think about himself. His thoughts were about the telephone calls that he had to make, a pair of shoes that he had seen, his new car, someone he didn’t like at work, the football scores, the fine he got at the week-end or the good impression he wanted to make on his neighbour. So no matter where the man was, his head was always filled with more or less the same old things: shoes, fines, telephone calls, neighbours, good impressions, unpleasant people and football scores. Since his thoughts were so monotonous, he fell asleep on the grass one day. His head was so offended as it reminisced about the things it didn’t know how to think about any more, it heard a click inside. The man was actually woken up by the fright of that terrible darkness that suddenly descended upon him. He opened his eyes and saw clarity all around him. He also noticed some of that crazy grass that you find in fields growing around his ankle, and wondered how long he had been lying there. So the crazy grass cleared its throat, and said (just like in the fairy tales) “I held you in the midst of the clarity of the world, because if you had stayed in the darkness of your own thoughts, you would have ended up in a big desert somewhere, without water, food or joy”.
One day a child arrived from a somewhere, someplace. This boy was just like the others but seemed a bit smaller since there was nobody with him. A man and woman who were passing by saw him and wondered where he could have come from. “I’d say he came from somewhere far away” said the man. “All children come from very far away” said the woman. “Yes, but this one seems further than the others” insisted the man. “Well I think he seems closer. Actually much, much closer” she said. And she pointed to a small leaf that had started growing from the boy’s foot. “See” she said “he’s already started to put down roots”. And she was right, because children are very good at putting down roots. In actual fact, at making everyone around them put down roots: women, men, houses, things, animals, clouds, countries…
Once there was a man who saw a plant growing between two tiles on his balcony and thought “I wouldn’t want to be you, stuck there all day. Always at the mercy of someone like me who could pull you up if he felt like it.” The plant didn’t say a word, even though she had heard him perfectly. But she looked closely at him. She could tell that he wasn’t too happy by the way he touched things. I’ll wait for it to be night before answering him she thought. And so it was. She waited for an early spring night a few months later. It was a beautiful night with a soft breeze and a few passing clouds. It was just past midnight and the plant went into the sleeping man’s dream; she sat down beside a small house in the dream, and waited. The man had heard a lot of stories about nymphs who lived in the fields and woods, but even though he had never seen one in person, he immediately recognised the one sitting down in his dream. Her hands and feet were as light as a bird’s and her golden voice seemed to come out from the ground with the leaves and fruit. “Marry me” he said at once, without having even thought about it before. The next day, the man got up, and as he ate breakfast, he realised that the plant between the tiles had grown. He opened the window and looked closely at it; he brushed one of the leaves with his hand and then another. “My hands are laughing” he thought, and even that was something he had never thought before.
Once upon a time, a woman said goodbye to her land which faded away into the distance â&#x20AC;&#x153;Your plants will grow among my thoughts, and whoever is near me will feel them flower; your birds will live in my voice, and whoever comes close to me will be able to listen to you; you will beat so strongly that the darkness of the night will never let loneliness creep inâ&#x20AC;?. Meanwhile, the child sleeping near his mother dreamed that he was a seed filled with adventure, carried along by the water and ready to take root anywhere.