Something about me

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I love writing, and some of my works are available in the English editions. You can find them here:

https://danielaenglishwebsite.wordpress.com/2017/11/24/where-to-buy-my-english-editions/

And if you are an Italian abroad or you simply like to read Italian, you can find my Italian editions here:

https://danielaenglishwebsite.wordpress.com/2017/11/24/where-to-buy-my-italian-editions/

Her Light Steps…

Finalist at the National Literary Award “The Memory”, published by several weekly issues and in a monthly publication by RAI, Italian Radio and Television Broadcast

I never liked my grandfather. I’m serious. For the truth, I have never been able to suffer his presence in our home. The discordant note that transformed the beautiful melody of our family life into a dreary dirge that no one wanted to hear. Yet there was nothing to do. Although I had several times expressed my impatience with his heavy and depressing presence, my whole family was united on his side, leaving me alone. I wondered why my parents had that kind of devotion toward that human wreckage, which was undermining the peace of our family. My father was open to any dialogue with me and my younger brother and the comprehension my mother had for us was simply infinite. Yes, but not when it concerned this subject matter. So, early on I realized that it was useless to insist. I had to endure this man with his sunken and dark circled eyes, with his face deformed by a paralysis that twisted his mouth, which always lost a little saliva from the sides. From his open lips you could see the remains of his yellowed ancient teeth. I still had to see his curly hair, white and sparse, that tiredly fell on his marked forehead. Everything about him disturbed me, I hated his smell of old age, his spotted and wrinkled hands, as I couldn’t eat the bread if they had only touched it. And finally, I couldn’t stand the number 12956 printed inside of his wrist, with a blue ink, still sharp enough to contrast with his almost transparent ​​skin, like a bruise that would never go away. In short, I hated his being a Jew. I always remembered him in that way, old and scared, irreparably injured by fate that had taken everything away from him. Nevertheless, his eyes expressed a twinkle of ancient honor, filled with the strange sense of belonging to traditions and histories impossible to suppress, in spite of everything. His inexplicable pride in being a Jew.

My memories as a child brought me back to when he was still eating at the table with us. At the dinner preceding Yom Kippur, he was usually assigned the task of cutting the bread and meat, as if he were an ancient patriarch. The study of the Torah and the solemnity of those celebrations were not for me, as everything in that frame was perpetrated. Although everyone said I was the most similar to my grandfather in features and in my way of doing, as if it were the greatest gift I could receive from God, I grew up with the absolute conviction that I wasn’t like him. I didn’t feel I was a Jew. Invariably, at the end of feasts or days spent in the Synagogue, I was terribly indignant. My mood was not justified either by family members, relatives and friends who at first tried to convince me, without success, to accept that I was born a Jew. The years went by, and my resentment against my condition was growing as well as the distance from everyone.

Then there came the time when my grandfather stopped eating with us and slid into an oblivion without end, in which he saw all those who were in our house as spies who would denounce him to the Nazis. And I understood that it was right for him to be isolated, eating alone in his room. He left his voluntary prison only at night, to take the same path many times in the hallway, from his bedroom to the kitchen to the bathroom and then back to his room. It was right; he was finally out of my sight. His footsteps in the night, dragged down the corridor, cadenced as if his feet were bound together by a heavy chain, were echoing in my mind, until they ended up rocking my dreams. For many years it was the only contact that stood between us. Until the time came in which I invited my friends to do homework together, and he succeeded in scaring them, coming out from the exile of his room and shouting with unexpected courage that they were all spies. I was terribly ashamed to see my friends go on the run, terrified by the madman fallen in our joy, only to remind us that we were Jews. I wanted to cry and scream at him to get out of my world, but the patriarch could not be touched. “Be patient!” my mother said to me, “Your grandfather has suffered so much and has done it for us. All of them in those camps sacrificed themselves for us.” I did not answer. I couldn’t dare tell her that I didn’t feel any gratitude for a collective sacrifice that certainly wasn’t done for me.

Indeed, as time went by, I felt that every drop of my blood belied my membership in the Jewish race. My DNA was talking about completely different stories from what he always wanted to tell, with his eyes staring into space, that permanent grimace and that damned number 12956, which was clearly visible even while waving his arm in the air in order to chase imaginary spies. What kind of man could ever be one like him, who allowed them to take away his wife and son without doing anything, a man who was marked as if he were a sheep in a flock? What kind of man was my grandfather to not be able to stop them? What did he want from me, with his mumbled cries against my friends and my life, that had nothing in common with his?

When I reflected on my image, I simply saw the strength and omnipotence in my features and my muscles that only young people can feel.

Yes, I would have known how to manage it. I refused to believe what was told of the past, said about the present and imagined in the future of the Jewish race. All of it described with the resignation of someone who knows that there will inevitably be new persecutions or exterminations in his fate. None of this would ever happen to me. I refused to attend Jewish girls as they tried to get me to do, and on the contrary, I tried to be included in different environments. I would never form a family that could be subject to persecution, I would never create the conditions to be marked as a beast. I cut my curly hair to zero, I deserted the Synagogue, I avoided wearing the Kippà. I even tried to hide my snub nose by a play of shadows, wearing heavy Ray-Ban lenses, until I felt I no longer had any feature attributable to the Jews. I had already planned my life defying the expectations of my relatives. I would have moved to the United States or to any place where a Jew is only a human being. I would become a lawyer and marry an American girl, submerging my origins and the evil fate of my people in that encounter with another’s DNA. And I liked to fantasize about my future looking out the windows of my room, in this great apartment not far from the ghetto, whose view spanned the slow course of the Tiber. From there the roof of the Synagogue was always visible, lit by the sun or drenched by rain, always a mute witness to remind me that I was a Jew

Years went by and I put in place my entire project. I got in touch with Boston University and in September will begin the studies I wanted to follow. I have a ticket in my pocket for a Pan Am flight that will take me out of here tomorrow. The news is that the other day my very old grandfather died in his sleep. We realized that something was wrong because none of us had heard his terrified footsteps as every night.  I haven’t felt anything but the mockery that he died just when I had finally decided to leave. My father wanted him to be laid in the coffin so that the number 12956 could be visible on his now skeletal wrist, like a yelled warning to the darkness beyond. I didn’t want to say goodbye for the last time to my grandfather. I just stayed in the hallway, furrowed by his footsteps, waiting until they closed the coffin and took him away. The echo of the sobs of others got lost in my cynical mind.

On the way back from the funeral, perhaps because of the coldness that I have always shown towards my grandfather, I was given the task of rummaging through the things he left behind and to pack anything that can be thrown away. And now I am here in his room, still aware of his smell which I still find unbearable. On the bed there is only the mattress, the blankets were removed. This silence doesn’t affect me. I want to hurry, I’ll pack the things that must be discarded and then I will close my suitcase for tomorrow. This morning, during the funeral, it rained hard. A summer thunderstorm that has given way to sultriness. From these windows I can see, even better than from my room, the roof of the Synagogue which reflects the sun on one side and, on the other, the few gray clouds that are moving away from the city. That strange roof seems to me an enigmatic mirror that reflects only what you want to see. I leave the window open and start to rummage in the closet, noting that the stuff to be selected is really very little. Some clothes, some sweaters, various Kippà, a candelabrum resting against the inside wall of the cabinet.

According to the stories told by my father, before the war they had been a wealthy family and the profession as a goldsmith, which my grandfather had inherited from his father, was ​​good. When the Nazis demanded the gold from the Roman Jews in exchange for their freedom, my grandfather convinced a large number of people giving what they had and he himself was stripped of almost all of his possessions. He was convinced that he would be able to resume when the absurdity of war was over. The important thing was to be left alone, he and his family, his wife Esther and his son David of seven years, my father. But then, as we all know, it wasn’t so. On a night in October 1943, they fell into the Nazi roundup of Roman Jews that were deported to Auschwitz, from which my grandmother Esther never returned. In the strange chain of events that sometimes separates life from death, my father was assigned to one of their neighbors who, eluding the Nazis control, led him to safety along with two other children, reaching the nearby monastery of St. Bartholomew. Only long after the war was my grandfather able to embrace his son, and from that moment, he didn’t let go of him ever again, even after his marriage with my mother. I didn’t feel pity even about these memories. I would have done something else. I would certainly not fall into the trap of Nazi hyenas; otherwise I would use my money to pay for a flight that would carry my family away.

I must protect my eyes from the fiery light of the sunset that, reflected by the roof of the Synagogue, pours into this room.

Damn, it’s almost evening. I must hurry. In the bottom of the cabinet I find a folded pair of pants, in which the touch of good wool can be recognized even though they are horribly worn. I unfold them to see inside, and a paper falls out. It’s a sheet from a lined notebook with yellow pages. It looks like a sheet of paper of the first primary, but the handwriting is of an adult. I sit on the edge of the bed and try to decipher what it says because in some spots, the ink seems to be wet:

“Dear love, I write what I can’t tell you staring at your eyes. I am eight weeks pregnant. I know you fear this news, I am scared too. But after the first impression, try to be as happy as I am. You’ll see, the war will pass, everything will end, and we will have the joy of a complete family. I’m sure it’s a girl and her life is growing strongly in me, it’s amazing. This time I will be good, I won’t cry like it happened when I was expecting David, that sadness occurs only in the first pregnancies. Dear love, you’ll see that we’ll make it! I love you so much…  Esther”.

I’m sitting on the bed but it seems me I’m sliding down from a mountain. I look at the date but it is unreadable. I can see only the year 1943. Suddenly I feel my whole world shaken and my defenses falling down. A hammer starts beating in my mind and in every shot, I see that number 12956 sticking in my brain, tearing at my judgments, at my beliefs. The last light of sunset caresses my face and I see drops falling down and wet the paper. Seems impossible, but they are tears, and they are mine! But, what is happening to me? I separate the paper from the things that need to be thrown and, caught by an incomprehensible frenzy, I shake those ragged trousers. And out of the pocket comes another piece of paper, creased and faded. I recognize the same handwriting:

“Dear love, I hope that you will receive my writing by Ines, who can reach your barrack. I’ll go ahead and try only to think that David is safe and away from here. Don’t worry about me, only care about you. Last night I felt the baby move for the first time! I love you so much Esther”.

I feel I have a priceless treasure in my hands, I am even afraid to lay it on the mattress. I gently slip it in my pocket where it slides down into my plane ticket. This is the last message of love written by a small, defenseless woman, who in the near future would have done the mortal “shower”. It seems to me to see her, while she moves her light steps, her belly swollen and her thoughts only concentrated on the movements of the creature in her womb, while unaware she moves toward the gas chamber. I seem to hear those light steps in the hallway of the house, merged with those heavy and terrified steps of the man she loved so much. I lay down motionless, staring at the ceiling, watching the strange shadows that the treetops, moved by the night breeze, draw on it, telling me another story; they show me what I never wanted to see. The joy and love, madness and cruelty, pride, courage and despair. Light and shadow, life and death. Outside it is night; the kiss of the moonlight reflected by the roof of the Synagogue tells me this. The smell of my grandfather is gone with the pure night air, but I would love for the first time, to feel it again. My tears fall silent, and I wonder why I never wanted to read what he showed with his faded eyes. It seems to me that years have passed, rather than the few hours spent in this room. I feel I am different, finally free from the weight that didn’t let air in my lungs. I breathe deep and what comes is a feeling that warms me. Now every drop of my blood, of my DNA and of each allele shout one sentence, I feel violently coming up to my lips. I get up and go to the window, crying out loud the words that burst with the energy of the lava erupted from a volcano. And I scream it to the moon, reflected by the waters of the Tiber, to the silent Synagogue, to the night birds that I no longer fear. And with merciless anger, but even with melting and ancient love I cry: “I shall remain!”

                                                           ***

Her Light Steps is part of the Anthology “Echoes of the Soul” ebook and paperback on Amazon:

 

 

 

 

 

The best Christmas present is a book!

 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Italy

Each year the same question… what is the best Christmas present? I have no doubt, a book is always a welcome gift, it does not occupy space and contains a world that often remains in us forever!

https://danielaenglishwebsite.wordpress.com/2017/11/24/where-to-buy-my-english-editions/

https://danielaenglishwebsite.wordpress.com/2017/11/24/where-to-buy-my-italian-editions/

 

“Misteries of the Etruscan Jar” in the ancient Etruscan Town

My book “Misteries of the Etruscan Jar” was successfully presented in Sala Ruspoli, in the heart of Cerveteri, a small Etruscan Town. It was amazing and many people took part in the event. At the end we had a Christmas toast with local sweets and champagne. The plot of the book was greatly appreciated and there were the television broadcasts by Canale 10.

The book is in the Italian edition at the moment, but if you wish to read Italian, you can already order it directly to the publishing house Edizioni Universo, at the following contacts. They will send it wherever you like, even at home!

info@orticaweb.it

069941736

3392864551

                          THE INTERVIEW

“No steps on the snow” The Interview

During summer 2015, fifty American  literary blogs were interested in the psychological thriller “No Steps on the Snow” (English edition of the Italian “Nessun segno sulla neve” National Literary Award Circe 2013). The book was Amazon best seller in USA, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and Japan.

The following interview by Hot Tree Promotion:

https://www.amazon.com/NO-STEPS-SNOW-Daniela-Alibrandi-ebook/dp/B010I259UK/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=no+steps+on+the+snow&qid=1567523569&s=books&sr=1-1

https://www.facebook.com/No-Steps-on-the-Snow-1627837737457442/

E-book and Paperback on Amazon worldwide