Sunday, 11 May 2014

My book of errors


Gianni Rodari is one of my favorite writer. He's a children authors but I don't really care about the classification: his novels and short stories are great, no matter the age you read them, so the slot is just useful when looking for his works in a book shop. So if you never read him while growing up, it's not too late.

Even though I read a lot by Rodari, I had few of his books on my shelves: school library was my source, so I'm slowly building up my collection now.
During Christmas break, I stopped by one of my favorite book shop and, before even realizing what I was doing, I found myself at the cashier paying for "Il libro degli errori", "The book of errors". It's a collection of poetries and short stories: they all begin from a mistake, either of grammar or spelling, and then Rodari writes his own magic into the story; like all stories they got a moral and Rodari delivers it with poetic softness.

He saw a lot of mistakes, being a primary school teacher; so he was an expert in the field and the moral of the whole book is written in its own introduction:
Mistakes are useful, as necessary as our daily bread and often even beautiful: for instance, the tower of Pisa.
I bought the book because it contains one of my favorite short story, "L'acca in fuga". Its title could be roughly translated into "The runaway H".
In Italian the letter "h" has no phonological value, but we use it to differentiate the spelling of some words and to write some phonemes. If something has little value, we say it's got the worth of an H.

In Rodari's story, once upon a time there was an H: it was very conscious of the fact people didn't deem it that much worthy or important. H started thinking about other countries, such as Germany, where the letter H is really important, and so H decided to run away from Italy. And everything started to crumble, because without the h things were not holding up any longer: they were just "olding" up.
At this point, churches started falling, Chianti wine became undrinkable, even Dante Alig(h)ieri was not himself any longer. People went and beg H to come back and that's why we can still chat nowadays.

Mistakes are part of life and yeah, they're often beautiful: like the one that happened yesterday and that made me go and pick up the book from my shelves.
Somebody wrote me a mail. Just it wasn't for me. It was for a Virginia with a single "s" in the surname.
A small extra letter, a little mistake and there I was, walking towards the metro station, reading the mail on my mobile. A mail to a different Virginia; and this Virginia is surely something. For sure she's an Argentinian, teaching American literature and she's surely passionate about what she does: so much that one of her former students wrote her an email to tell her how she was inspired by her classes and how she wanted to pursue a career in the same field: it was the passion and the enthusiasm Virginia showed during class that showed her the way. Her love for what she's teaching, for the books she brought to the class felt real and almost "material" by reading the words of her former student-

As soon as I started reading the mail, I knew it wasn't for me: who would send me a mail in Spanish? But it was not the usual Nigerian prince scam, so I kept reading and I'm glad I did. Somebody made a small mistake, a little "s" that opened me a small window: a brief glimpse of another Virginia, of another world made of good moments and problems, of books and people she touched.
I smiled and replied the mail, thankful for the beauty that small error brought into my life.

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