Fiction, Uncategorized

Don Giulio


Don Giulio’s favourite


Tell my son’ said the body lying on the bed. The words spilled out with all the force she could muster ‘tell my son if you can, that I have cancer. That I will like to know how he is before I die’

Don Giulio stepped out of the clinic gate, a new responsibility on his shoulders. He was the chaplain of a prison in the south of Italy; a prison that housed many members of the Italian mafia. Including a boy, a young man of twenty – three. Of him, Don Giulio knew only two facts. That he was like the other mafias whose goal was power and only power; And, that he had a mother who was on her deathbed in Rome.

‘Things will sort themselves out’ he mused to himself, his over-rational self as he liked to call it. How best to communicate the message to the boy was his worry. ‘Tell my son…’ the dying woman had said. ‘Dear Holy Spirit of God’ Don Giulio prayed ‘may this son listen!’


The boy was weeping inside his whitewashed cell. ‘I have no mother’ he had screamed, banging the door in Don Giulio’s face. Yet, he was weeping. Don Giulio remained standing outside, listening to it. It was saying for the umpteenth time that the thread that connects man to the Good has not and will never be lost, whatever happens.

Footsteps. Sounds not of weeping. A prison warden with his keys dangling from his hips. Don Giulio beckoned to him and pointed to the door screen.

Now Don Giulio could see him. The boy without a mother was still crying.

‘You do have a mother’ Don Giulio maintained ‘How fortunate you are! Without her, you will not be a man’.

‘Yes, a man’ he said, as the young man’s bowed head jerked up and back down again. ‘You won’t be a man and much less, a mafia’.

And he stepped out of this other door, one less responsibility off his broad shoulders.

‘Now let the young man cry’ it said to him. There will be time for conversation later.


Losing you!


What would our world be without the simple two-syllable named being – Mother {nnem in Igbo language}. I remember your screams and cries when we learned that Chinonso had been washed away by the rain and we became incomplete, from half a dozen to five only. Floating as fresh as ever is your smile as you read my letter apologising for constantly bedwetting at the age of thirteen. The many councils of children you called to decide the fate of a defaulting child. ‘What shall we do with Uche who has acquired the habit of picking from others?’ you asked and when we replied ‘pardon her this last time’ you acquiesced and Uche got one more chance before the gentle whips of your cane. You never kept a cane, nnem. One simply materialized when the need arose and it did so rarely. I laugh now as I laughed many years ago as your palm landed on my back because I had been very naughty, only to end up crying when the after effects of the slap reached home. You never flogged us, lengthy sermons was not your method either. Short pieces of advice here and there, a good and strong example and plenty of prayers were your style. Who can forget the delectable cat fish pepper soups you usually made to celebrate one of our small victories – first prize here, a coming of age there? Those bags and corners where you hid your little everyday things; remember how we used to joke that one day you will forget where you hid those things away from our prying eyes and grasping hands. Who except you will ask me perpetually to visit home? Who but you will accuse me of forgetting her? Who will weep on the phone when I playfully throw back that same accusation at her? Very few fears I have and none of them deep at all. One only I am sure of – losing you! God, keep her long for me.