I couldn’t move: my eyes had got trapped in the view I had just glimpsed through an old window. It was like a Bruegel painting, looking down the hill to the surroundings of Shtupel, Kosovo. Blurry geometry outlined a couple of hills on the horizon and a few houses below covered in snow, with the wooden parts sticking out of the sheer white. The only movement was the light grey snakes of smoke between the rooftops and the sky.
“Do you understand why?” “What?”, I said to my translator, pretending I had always been there and looking down at my small cup of hot coffee to avoid the stare of Adela, a Roma woman born in Kosovo.
“Do you understand why, even though my whole family was persecuted both by the Serbs and by the Albanians as both always thought we were traitors and would collaborate with the other side, I will never move away from here?” While Nikolino, my translator, was speaking, I had to look up to Adela. She was holding firmly in her arms the last-born child of the house. Her big eyes were moving around quickly to keep check on the other kids. They were as black as the obsidian stones I had seen as a child while on holiday with my family in Salina on the Aeolian Islands in Sicily. At that point, I had to make a huge effort. Like a goalkeeper on the ground jumping back up again to catch the sudden second shot after having saved the first, I went on describing when and how, thanks to donations raised by the Italian chapter of Caritas, her roof would be rebuilt for her and her family to allow them to keep living there. To stay in that gem of paradise. Later Adela turned my coffee cup upside down for a couple of minutes. Before I left she read the grounds in the bottom of my cup and with a big smile told Nikolino that a bright future was waiting for me. I too smiled.