“I especially remember the cold, never a sunny day, I remember the snow and that we were without socks or gloves.”
What is the best gift a grandchild can give to his grandmother? To be her legacy.
Honoring the elderly, and their experience from which we all derive, when they are still among us, and not regretting them when it is too late. An important teaching.
In this children’s book, Calabresi tells the story of Joshua and grandmother Andra, a total love. Son of an American and an Italian girl who later moved to California, Joshua spent his summers with his grandmother Andra in Italy as a child.
On one of the long hot summer afternoons, Joshua asks his grandmother the meaning of the numbers she has tattooed on her forearm, opening the door to memories buried under a blanket of invisible Polish snow.
With the delicacy of pure love, the grandmother decides to tell her grandson about the atrocities suffered during the Second World War, with the deportation and the extermination camps, of which she was one of the few survivors.
From his grandmother’s voice, Joshua will learn the story of other family members, such as the great-grandmother and great-grandfather that he knew existed in the generality that we all have of our ancestors, but not in the particularity of their lives. Andra will then tell the story of other relatives, killed prematurely to leave a testimony of their passage, such as the little cousin Sergio, victim of the experiments of German doctors who had injected him with the tuberculosis virus, who died a few days before his liberation, in the cowardly commitment Nazi to erase the traces of the crimes committed.
The text is taken from a true story, collected by the protagonists’ voice to the author, and we like it very much; we think that the first-person testimony of someone who has suffered some crimes has a greater specific weight, especially in a historical period like ours in which we tend to want to minimize the seriousness of some historical events, if not worse, to want to forget them.
A highly recommended children’s book, because it opens up enormous spaces for reflection, and allows the memory to be passed on. In another beautiful book (Roots by Alex Haley) it is said that among the Mandinka when an arafang (anzano of the tribe) died it was as if an entire library were destroyed, and this is what we thought listening to Andra’s voice.
Mario Calabresi, Sarò la tua memoria, Mondadori, Milano, 2023