Category Archives: Big Mike

SSM, the soldier

“After becoming President, I asked some of my bodyguard members to go for a walk in town. After the walk, we went for lunch at a restaurant. We sat in one of the most central ones, and each of us asked what we wanted. After a bit of waiting, the waiter who brought our menus appeared and at that moment I realized that at the table that was right in front of ours there was a single man waiting to be served.

When he was served, I told one of my soldiers: go ask that man to join us. The soldier went and transmitted my invitation. The man stood up, took the plate and sat next to me. While eating, his hands were constantly shaking and he didn’t lift his head from the food. When we finished, he waved at me without even looking at me, I shook his hand and walked away!

One of my soldiers said to me: ‘Madiba, that man must be very sick as his hands wouldn’t stop shaking while he was eating.’ Not at all! The reason for his tremor is another, I replied.

They looked at me weird and I said to them: “That man was the guardian of the jail I was locked up in. Often, after the torture I was subjected to, I screamed and cried for water and he came to humiliate me, he laughed at me and instead of giving me water he urinated on my head. He wasn’t sick, he was scared and shook maybe fearing that I, now the president of South Africa, would send him to jail and do the same thing he did with me, torturing and humiliating him. But that’s not me, that behavior is not part of my character nor my ethics. Minds that seek revenge destroy states, while those that seek reconciliation build Nations.”

From Nelson Mandela’s Memories

Dialogue between a snail and an earthworm

The snail to the earthworm:

Tunnels, tunnels for your train
that pierces and sluggishly passes in the dark!
Keep them level, for you not to emerge
to the road of dust, in the sun,
to the cobblestones where you die withered
and a foot then breaks you like a vial
of glass with a thousand rings:
those that now clasp your mood
and drive thee to flow within the earth
in which you form the incessant shell
that accompanies thy weakness.

The earthworm to the snail:

Silver-striped passage
train of a slow queen
coiled in a spiral
at the bottom of the path
as if through long night…
There I find you again, returning
with the sun still high above
and the love that followed you
along the incessant journey leaves me.
You did not reach the crevice established
by my hope that coincided
the time figured by your trait
with that used by you in the space
open to your will and mine.
It was to draw from it a glimmer of hope
that on dark tiredness would flash
to relieve the ill-carried burdens
in this expectation of happy rendezvous.
Disappointed, now I am your enemy
in the futile desire that you move
in tenacious progress to the point.
(Have I a comparison of measure
to ask that you bathe new ground
Towards the goal which I set from me to you
in challenge to the coded course of the world?)
I invite you to get out of your shell
but fails the childish song.
(Do you fear my somber and wrathful voice?)
A blade of grass is therefore the sting.
You retract, without space, into yourself
and slime, in green foams, hides thee
behind your and my horror.
Decided. I know that tomorrow
you will not be here, in torment,
and I, seeking your path
I shall find myself slower than you
scattering on the imagined road
so much mood that it will leave a dense trace
up to the top of the wall
assigned to me against the emptiness of the sky.

Le poesie Il lombrico e La lumaca di Arturo Loria tratte da Bestiario 

L’animale mangiaserrature

Lo incontrai che passeggiava nei corridoi dell’albergo con un animaletto mangiaserrature.

Posava l’animaletto sulla plica del gomito, allora l’animale era tutto contento e un’altra serratura era mangiata. E così per parecchie e così una quantità. Lui passeggiava atteggiandosi come uno cui “casa sua” sia divenuta più grande. Come apriva una porta, cominciava per lui una nuova vita.

Ma l’animaletto era tanto affamato di serrature che il suo padrone ben presto doveva riuscire alla ricerca di altre effrazioni, per quanto così trovasse scarso riposo.

Non volli fare alleanza con quell’uomo, gli dissi che per me ciò che preferivo nella vita era l’uscita. Ebbe uno sguardo bianco. Non eravamo della stessa sponda, ecco tutto, altrimenti mi ci sarei alleato. Mi piaceva, senza peraltro convincermi.

da Un certo piuma, Henri Michaux, Bompiani, 1971, trad.di Alfredo Giuliani