Ein Brief von Giulia Ichino

Giulia Ichino wurde 1978 in Mailand geboren, wo sie auch heute lebt. Sie war fünfzehn Jahre lang Lektorin bei Mondadori und ist jetzt für die Literatur bei Bompiani verantwortlich. Bompiani gehört zur Giunti Gruppe, die ihren Sitz in Florenz und Mailand hat.

My beloved Pietro and Lapo, 

since I was carrying you in my womb I’ve looked for the right words to tell you about the world around us.

Till now, our concern was not having enough time to spend together: your father always traveling with his music; your mother attending bookfairs, literary prizes, festivals, meetings with authors; you both busy with your school and friends… Now, suddenly, we find ourselves in an opposite situation: all together in our apartment, the world outside, distressing and suffering.

We would like to do something to help, but the most helpful thing we can do is apparently remaining here, and continue to look at the future with hope.

I had a moment of deep discouragement. I couldn’t find words anymore. We are not the kind of people that stay at home and wait. I felt worthless.

But one night, while you were sleeping, I stepped out on our balcony and listened to the sound of the city: Milan, with its skyscrapers and churches, its metro lines and canals, was plunged in an immense silence. I went back inside, I needed to hear a voice: I picked up a book from the shelter, and there I could hear a voice loud and clear. It was the voice of a young Jewish woman in Holland who, during World War II, chose to share the destiny of her community and went to the concentration camp. On 12th July 1942 she was annotating on her diary, talking to God: “Alas, there doesn’t seem to be much You Yourself can do about our circumstances, about our lives. Neither do I hold You responsible. You cannot help us, but we must help You and defend Your dwelling place inside us to the last”. The woman's name was Etty Hillesum.  

Thanks to her voice, the importance of words seemed so essential to me: we are all alone in our homes, but infinite chains of words are connecting us. They help us understand, they save our lives. We are responsible for our behaviors, and likewise for our words. Our way of sharing information, the way we narrate the story while it is happening every day can change not only our state of mind but also our destiny.

Your great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers had to go through the tragedy of war and hate. We are infinitely luckier: we have to fight a non-human enemy, and we can do it all together, aided by the light of Science and the courage of being human.

There will be a time to fight with our hands, later. But now there is a lot we can do by choosing the words to tell, to share, to express compassion and hope.

Be faithful to your voice, my children, listen to the words of your friends, of the books you read, of the songs you hear, and use your words as one of the most precious gifts you have received.

Thanks to the words, we are not alone.

With love and hope,
your mum, Giulia