8 September 2013, Questura Trapani, Sicily
Time has stopped in Trapani. It’s Sunday noon. 30 degrees and not many sunstroke volunteers.
Silence gets broken with a deep-throated scream. A fourth character has arrived to the piazza. He wears no T-shirt; he beats himself with fists in the stomach. Then pitifully cups his face in his hands. He mixes sounds of sheer desperation and revolutionary battle yells.
I don’t know Italian but I understand he suffers.
He stops and shouts his lungs out before the Questura.
He lies down. Then he crawls. Again he lies on his back and starts ‘making an angel’ without snow. Now rolling over and crying.
Time has started again. Tick-tock.
Piazza starts enlivening. Children are curious, parents – worried.
What is bothering this delicate Mediterranean soul?
Why is the pavement his church and the Questura his enemy?
Italian language knowledge – free, I guess:
One of his three twins hasn’t been admitted in a kindergarten. He must now work part-time and babysit.
He blames the Questura for not chasing him often enough to use condoms.
Luigi has kicked him out of his bar at noon and interfered unlawfully with his human right to drink and be understood.
His daughter has left with the neighbour’s son who had once stolen an apple from their apple tree. 20 years ago crime with an irretrievable loss.
Police car arrives. Now there are 7 anxious faces looking at the screaming man. Nobody takes action.
One policeman says I guess: ‘I arrest you for your feelings’
‘You have made time in Trapani start ticking again. You are arrested.’
Then the policeman offers him a hand to stand up.
Another outburst of fury overflows the piazza and its spectators.
A cigarette is suggested. This works. The stranger takes an orator posture.
He explains himself for 5 minutes. It all sounds like his heart has been broken. But Italian does sound like it all the time.
A policeman, who has stayed in the car, gets out and tells the stranger something with a mild tone of voice, smiled.
Maybe they have found the 20 years old apple so there is no reason to blame the Questura.
An ambulance parks in front the building. Excuse me, the institution.
Is the ambulance the problem solver for this miserable citizen?
Because of us, the spectators with various motives, maybe, the Stranger is not picked up by force and thrust in the police car.
Italians watching the scene are clicking their tongues but are still present, although disapproving.
It has now been 40 minutes of psychological exercise for everyone.
The Stranger meets the doctors with a story. He starts crying and yelling and rolling again across the piazza.
Suddenly one doctor starts doing the same.
The infected doctor exclaims in a fit of rage. He starts pointing fingers chaotically at the Questura.
After the first infected doctor, the same happens with several policemen to our surprise…
The whole piazza is now full of half-naked, bellowing citizens, posing questions to the Questura.
That would have been a very wonderful ending, right?
The chain reaction of rage, honesty, expressed grief, sharing and maybe even decisions found.
But it ended in the expected way. The stranger was driven away from Questura, Trapani, we all have gotten back home.
A similar memory was evoked. Pacing through fields at noon.
Time has stopped. A donkey brays from all his donkey heart and soul.
And I was 4, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Now I’m 24 and I still can’t.
Was it hungry?
Was it sad?
Or was it just a donkey thing?
Is it only human to collapse emotionally before the Questura?
Maybe ignorance is bliss.