To the Italy after tomorrow

By March 18, 2020 No Comments

To the Italy after tomorrow,

It’s just Thursday, a Thursday like any other. Darn boring routine. People running in Milan from a missed tram to lectures at university, others reaching their workplace and more in the ward saving lives.

It’s a Thursday like any other in Codogno as well, I could bet on it.

Mattia is a young man, 38 years old: there has been a lot of talk around him, but at this point it’s the only thing that matters. Mattia is 38 with his entire life ahead and on Thursday 20th of February 2020 he gets to the hospital of Codogno in desperate conditions: he shows a terrible pneumonia and is transferred to intensive care. That same Thursday, cursed Thursday, on call in critical care was Annalisa Malara, 38 years old as well. Life is a bastard sometimes.

You know those moments right before making a choice that could lead out to irreversible consequences? Those moments, hanging instants – this is perhaps the proper term – between what will be and what could have been.

At 12:30 am on that cursed day Annalisa Malara changes the course of our lives. In front of an uncanny clinical picture, she does something the Italian protocol doesn’t justify. At 1 pm Mattia’s test is sent to Sacco Hospital in Milan.

7 hours and a half go by.


At 8:30 pm the results are back: the impossible is knocking on our door, Mattia is affected with Covid-19.

Italy doesn’t know it yet.

What were you doing on that Thursday evening? A second like so many in a small town populated by 15 thousand souls had changed all our lives. Sounds strange, right? In a world such as today’s where everyone keeps running without looking back, in the back someone felt the blow and stopped. And just like that in a bit we would all have stopped, but no one was aware.

It’s hard to tell what happens at the break of Friday. Italy is a different place. The number of infected increases, news – those too – run. Everyone is searching for patient zero, only sick people are found. That same night the first death. Italy is on the verge of chaos.

The two weeks after are the picture of fear. Every day at 6 pm the dispatch, three entries: infected, passed, recovered. Behind those cold numbers pronounced every day by the chief of Civil Defence Angelo Borrelli hides the crisis of a nation whose future doesn’t allow her to be mirrored the same way.

On March 9th, sixteen days after that sunrise of pain, the government enacts the harshest measures from ’45 to today. The ordinance that puts our country in quarantine exudes tragedy, agony. Grievous awareness of a murderous, cruel fury raiding our Nation.

In these two weeks Italy is crippled, wounded, almost outraged. The invisible put on lock down beauty and declared us war.

The biggest sin of our generation was not knowing enough sufferance, that which toughened our grandfathers and ancestors. That sufferance, that uncertainty gave them the spirit of a lion, prepared for anything to take for themselves the certainty of seeing their children grow, of living in peace, of being able to exercise their rights. That pain taught them precarity.

After all this time with the shallow conviction that it was all an old memory, the past has come back. “We are at war” said the President of the French Republic, Emanuel Macron, addressing the nation.

Yes, we are. At 12:30 on Thursday 20th February 2020 everything changed, forever.

How will you be, Italy of tomorrow?

In tragedies there is always a glimmer of hope to hold on to.

Hope that our future Italy will wake up different, aware that the embittered way of life that followed us through years has failed in front of the impetuous force of nature. I wonder if we will wake up not in a race but in silent, to appreciate what we still have, when so many will have lost so much. I wonder if we will wake up in a time that will restore the importance of thought, of true emotions, if this period of forced isolation will bring us back some urge for being together. I wonder if the Italy of tomorrow will be stronger, more cohesive, more beautiful.

In the mean time we are here, hanging in a limbo between what is coming and the darkest hour of this wonderful Nation.

No one can guarantee Italy won’t be anything but a darker place, too hurt to rise again.

No one can guarantee Italy won’t be a cradle for an even vicious and brutal individualism.

Most importantly, no one can guarantee that tomorrow will actually be a tomorrow and not a yesterday, that this 2020 won’t push us back like shrimps.

No one can. Future has never been as uncertain. We must, sorely, be aware and fight this battle so that what is coming will be worthy. It’s not easy. We are used to saying ‘see you tomorrow’ as the most natural thing in this world, as if everything was going as it should. As if every moment had the same value, one of many infinites going by.

Precarity will weaken us, perhaps it will wear us down. We will be tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, we will think about giving up. At some point we will want to give up.

However something tells me that on the verge of the chasm we will react. We will strike back in deference to a deep sense of survival and firmness common to all of us more than anything else.

I cannot believe this country will stop fighting after seeing doctors and nurses struggle to save lives.

A desperate toehold to Leopardi’s social chain, united against the indifference of cruel nature and for a chance to restart. From the beginning, a different Italy, to be reconstructed and found again, that will re-evaluate everyday life and give it a different importance.

Perhaps it’s just hope, or maybe even conflicts are an opportunity. Who knows, Hegel could have been right seeing in sorrow a chance of rebirth. Or, like De Andrè would have said, better sung: “Nothing grows from diamonds, flowers grow from manure”.

And if this war can bring us back an Italy to be rebuilt giving paramount importance to the rights to life, health, happiness, to experiencing people forgetting about who or what wanted to include a right to PIL in the Constitution, then we will have truly won. Together if they want, alone if necessary.

Oh Italy, everything will be well. And Italy of tomorrow, you will really be more beautiful.

See you soon,

An Italian
Emilio Siciliano