Someone Who I Admire

April 13, 2018
By Anonymous

It was a hot day in 1938 Reggio di Calabria, a city town in the very south of Italy, surrounded by plenty of farmland and just on the edge of the water. The sun was beating down on nine year old Rocco dark skin while he lay on the dirt floor of his home, just waking up from his night of sleep. The sun was able to enter his house through the myriad of cracks on his ceiling. To the left of him, he saw his mother, Domenica, holding his baby sister, Josephine. To the right of him, he saw his younger brother, Carmelo, laughing, probably amused at one of his own jokes. Carmelo was deaf, and to others, the sound of him laughing was deafening itself. But to Rocco, it was beautiful music to wake up to. Rocco slowly sat up and was suddenly aware of the hot air around him, as sweat ran down his forehead. Rocco looked around in panic as he had done for two weeks before that, wondering in worry where his father, Joseph, was. For about ten seconds he thought up worst possible scenarios about what had happened to him. Because, in this southern province of Italy, nobody was safe. Had Il Capo taken him? Might he have drowned in the ocean? But then he remembered. His father was dead. He died of starvation two weeks prior. Every day for two weeks after his father’s death, Rocco had a mere 10 seconds of bliss in the morning that his father was still alive. But after those ten seconds were gone, Rocco remembered that he had to get off of the dirt floor he had been sleeping on and get to the Stallone farm, where he had started working the day his father died. He had made time for work by dropping out of school at the mere age of nine.
   Rocco picked himself up off the ground. He stood upright in his classroom sized home, his feet touching the hot dirt below him. Nine year old Rocco, being to oldest son, had to go to work and provide for his family. He slipped on his pair of leather shoes that were much too big on him and had previously belonged to his father.
With these leather shoes on his feet and an empty pantry in his home, he spoke to his mother, “La fame é malamente” and walked out of the door. Hunger was, in fact, the worst feeling. It was a feeling that brought so much death along with it. A feeling that was all too familiar to the family. Despite Rocco’s gruesome situation, he did not feel pity for himself. Rocco felt pity for those who were never hungry, because they would never notice the magical feeling of a full stomach, since a full stomach was a constant for them. After walking out the door and closing it being him, Rocco walked down the single path that led from his house to the Stallone farm.
He noticed Mr. Stallone and waved. Rocco didn’t really feel like talking after the death of his father. All he wanted to do was go to work and keep the rest of his family from the feeling of hunger, although up to this point, he was not successful in doing. He worked as hard as he could on the Stallone farm. He wanted to make as much money as he could so that he could get as much food as he could.
After his day of labouring in the field with the sun beating down on his bare back, he started walking home with two small tomatoes that he stole from the farm. He walked up the path that connected the Stallone farm to his house. He came home to his mother crying. He asked his mother what was wrong.
His mother replied quietly with the words that have echoed in his head over and over since the day that they were spoken to him, “Tua sorella è morto come tuo padre.” His sister did, in fact, die like his father did. The words rang through his ears like a voice in a cave. He looked at his baby sister Josephine and felt a wave of disappointment overcome him. Disappointment in himself. He could not let this happen again. Not to his mother. And definitely not to his brother Carmelo. He did not let this break him. He only let this motivate him further. He was going to make a life, and a good life, for everybody that he loved from that point on. No more deaths. No more sadness. Just full stomachs and work.

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