The First Italian Word

When I moved to Italy with my parents I was five and I didn’t utter a word. I do not remember if I felt uncomfortable with this; however this seemed to irritate the kindergarteners of the school where my Italian grandfather enrolled me. I was curious to imitate the way they speak, so when I learned my first Italian word I was delighted. A “cute” kid looked me right in the face and screamed: <<Stupid!>>. It was a great start. I went home very satisfied, repeating continuously that I was "stupid".

When I started elementary school, the language still continued to be a problem - for others, not for me. Teachers were so nice: they wrote every day in my school diary. Being completely unaware that I was receiving daily demerits, was a big fortune and it did not raise any concern to me. Basically, they asked my parents to find more time to help me learning Italian and to do homework. We can say that the word "stupid" was still suitable for me.

My relationship with italian children continued to be quite complicated and I still did not realize this ...
I was sitting in the last rows of the school bus when a little boy started calling me insistently making a lot of ugly faces. I did not need to understand what he was saying; I knew at once that he was not telling me nice things. Before I could react, he gave me a punch in the stomach. This was unexpected but I did not say a word: no whimpers, screams or tears… nothing. I just crouch a little the moment he gave me the punch.
 Then I sat down as if nothing happened, just hoping that no one had seen anything.

I have no idea why he gave it to me, but this was the first time in my life that I kept all the pain inside. Just for dignity. I did not want to seem weak, so I said nothing of the incident even to my mom and dad.

When I realized I sound stupid to anyone’s eyes, I did not answer, perhaps I made even a smile! When they gave me a kick, I turned my back and I remained silent. These were my secrets and today, after more than two decades, I reintroduce them to myself and to you too. Because the most constructive pain is the one you feel when you are alone and forced to rely on yourself.

Side effects? A few years later, my class won the relay race on the Youth Games. I was the one who completed the final lap and brings the baton to the finish line.

Published by Angela Varagic


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