Have you discovered the Weekly Writing Challenge yet? For this week’s challenge we were given this picture and asked to write a blog around it.
Do you see the activity in the photo? Several groups of people milling around the tram stop, some ascending the hill and some descending. And the couple on the opposite side of the road, standing on the rain-swept steps saying hello or goodbye.
Well those of you who have read any of my posts in the past know that I am an incurable romantic. So I see these two young lovers being forced to say goodbye. Their liaison is not encouraged by either set of parents and in fact, we can see her parents waiting impatiently on the other side of the road for her to finish her goodbyes and to board the tram with them. And if she doesn’t hurry they will miss this tram and have to wait another 20 minutes for the next one. Why doesn’t she hurry when she knows that it will only make things worse if they miss the tram because of her?
But our two young lovers are in no hurry to part. They know that once they do it may well be several years before they see each other again – if at all. He is going off to America to school while she is forced to stay here in Turin to continue her studies and to help look after ailing grandparents. The young couple has discovered that it is possible for her to go with him to study in the US but it is also impossible. Her duty to her family is so well inculcated in her being that she finds it almost unthinkable to walk away from her responsibilities.
But why should this be in one so young? Why should these responsibilities fall on her young shoulders? The elderly grandparents have each lived a long and probably useful and happy life; the parents too have lived and have no doubt enjoyed, many years of happiness together, so why therefore, should this young woman not be allowed the same chance of happiness.
For the past several weeks, the mother has been nagging her to stay. Not to go to the US with the young man. “Who will help with Nonni if you go? ” ” I am getting older and I should have some time now to enjoy myself” “Dont be so selfish. Think of others” she says constantly. “But I should also be allowed time to enjoy myself; time to find out who I am and where in this world I fit” responds the young woman. Then the father chimes in with “Your Mamma and I have spent many years tending you and providing for your health and well-being. Now it is time for you to consider us”.
The young woman is torn between longing to get away with her lover and her duty to her family. So many questions plague her mind. If she doesn’t go with him will he find somebody new in this new world into which he is going? And will he soon forget her and the promises they have made to each other? Or will he come back to her after his studies are finished as he has promised.
If she stays will she always regret not going with him and if she goes will she regret not being the obedient daughter she was trained to be. How can she make a decision, one so important that it could well change the rest of her life.
But now we see from the picture that a decision has been made. Because she is a dutiful Italian daughter and has been brought up with the idea of family being the most important thing in the world, she will let him go to America without her. She will stay to help look after the old grandparents and if necessary, her own parents who are also getting older. She will keep her love alive by letters and emails and occasional telephone calls to and from her lover and trust that he will come back to her once his studies are over.
But we fear for her. We think that once he is free from his family restrictions and expectations (although as a son the expectations of his caring for family members is not so strong) he might find that the attractions of this new life quickly erase the memories of his old life. And unfortunately this might include the girl.
If this should be so, will she become embittered and blame her parents for her unhappiness. Or alternatively, with her young lover in America for several years will she be the one who doesn’t keep her promises.? Will she find another boy to love? And this one may well be more suited to her and her life; staying in the area and thereby allowing her to fulfil her obligations to her family without surrendering her life to them.
Perhaps we can revisit this young couple and their family at some later stage to check on them and how their lives are working out. I think I should like to do that.
Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.
Anthony Brandt, author