Saturday, 28 February 2009

Nothing will happen to you

"Nothing will happen to you," my grandfather used to tell me when he took me for a walk every Sunday afternoon. I was, I must confess, an apprehensive kid, fearful of every shadow and suspicious of every possibility.

My grandfather's stories were meant to convince me that, one day, I would also be able to face life courageously. While we walked along the disaffected railway, my eyes remained focused on the ground, so afraid I was to slip and fall.

How long would it take, I wondered, until I grew capable to turn every defeat into victory? In the eyes of the worrisome boy I was, the arrival of that moment was a receding point in the horizon.

I still remember my grandfather's hesitant voice when he described how, in his early thirties, he had returned from the war almost an invalid and had been forced to rebuild his life from scratch.

From time to time, I broke my shyness and I dared to name to the old man a list of all of life's perils. From the dangers I mentioned, a few were real and all others I made up myself. My grandfather smiled, shook his head, praised my imagination, and predicted that, one day, I would become a writer.

I grew up together with my fears, to which I had become so attached. I went away and returned, only to leave again, unable to hold sway over ambitions and delays. When things went wrong, I blamed the world. When I erred, I pretended to forget my own mistakes.

Maybe it was my fate but the telegram reached me too late and my grandfather was already dead. As I stared at his grave, his warm words came back to my brain, how he had lost every possession,
rebuilt his life, and forgiven aggression.

A friend of mine lost his job this week and felt himself crushed, unable to speak. "Nothing will happen to you," I reassured him. "It's just an unlucky streak." Since he didn't believe me, I took him to the tree under which my grandfather's heart no longer beats.

"Ask him and he will tell you," I urged my friend. "Tell him about your dreams and he will show you where they lead." I left my friend by the grave and waited for him in the car. I knew he needed an hour alone to recharge.

"How did it go?" I inquired when he joined me, as I watched his eyes aglow. "Did my grandfather reply to you?
What did he tell you?" My friend smiled and pointed at the rye growing in the fields beyond the trees.

"He told me that all plants grow enough to cover hurts from their past." My friend was no longer wrecked, he had regained his self-respect. "He also made me see," he added, "that nothing will happen to me."


[Image by !tranq72! under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]

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