«Tubus farinarius, dulcissimo, edulio ex lacte factus»
Marcus Tullius Cicero
«Il cannolo non è un dolce cristiano… tradiscono una indubbia origine mussulmana»
Duca Alberto Denti di Pirajno
“Leave the gun, take the cannoli”
Pietro Clemenza, The Godfather
I will tell you a story. A story with tears. The lacto-comic(dairy). Rich in calcium. And amiant. You will forgive me this day. You have now grabbed your chocolates and gamopilafo(ie. a traditional dish that Greeks eat in the weddings), how can you now listen about Cannoli. Ok, this story might not have so many tears, maybe it’s just foolish. Simonidis from Kea said: “We died here, following the Spartan traditions.”(in ancient Greek). So we are also there in a sandy and hot, we never followed the traditions but we heard of them. It depends on how you feel the time you hear it. And how much cheese will accompany the story.
As we said, we are chilling there by a sandy and burning beach. Anyways, when I heard this story, I didn’t feel well. Doctor said “malabsorption due to bile removal”. So doctor, now that I don’t have a bile, won’t I be sulking in melancholy again, right? No, but because of the malabsorption, you will have to eat more than normal. Otherwise, you will feel dizzy and you will faint. You will be sleeping while standing and baaam you will fall asleep. In a year, it will fade away.
And it is summer. I am starving. I am dizzy, you know..like you have fever but without being hot on the head. Sun is hot and its rays are hitting me on the head. The sand is burning like carbon in the fire. The Desperate is there.
She looks Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Sick without superiority. Sick and refraining from superiority. In the beach without a shadow. With the swimming stuff, with her beautiful swimsuit. That beautiful swimsuit. The unbearable swimsuit. It’s Brazilian, and she almost looks like a wrapped candy, but essentially unwrapped.
I want to tell her that I am hungry and dizzy, but I don’t want to become like a pig. Be Patient. If I faint, I will say that I fell asleep. How can they understand about the malabsorption? Such a difficult compound word.
The Desperate had already jumped on my belly. I liked it, but at the same time from starving without mercy, I wanted to puke. I am holding myself. Later, the Desparate Constantina pulls me from my hand to the sea. She started singing with a childish voice, not fake childish, but real, the song “In Da Club” “In Da Club” by 50cent.
I hate rap music; sorry, I mean I hate rap music, not niggaz, but wannabe girl niggaz of Athens, as if the Bronx and Halandri are the same, come on, show some mercy! I am wondering why I am tolerating her, but the song has a charming refrain, “Come give a hug”, so not only do I tolerate her New York mouth, but I enjoy it as well. Later we go out to the burning sand.
-What’s the date, today? She asked me.
-Thirteen, I said. The month is thirteen (I speak by myself, and I only hear it)
–Thirteen… oh.. she sighed.
And then the eyes of the Desperate, started going left and right like a malfunctioning pendulum. Like a tennis ball that hits the racket angrily. Like a double egg yolk prepared for omelette. Her eyes go like this. Left, right, left, right, like the white of her eye is going to explode, it will spill on the sand. Jesus Christ, what is she looking at? Look how her eyes are going? As if devil came inside of her. The end of the world. There is nobody at the beach, not even a boat is passing by, to look at.
-What happened to you Konstantina? I asked her in my stress.
-Nothing Lefteris. Thirteen. Thirteen. Cannoli. Sicily.
She throws these three words, like that, spread and impalpable, dark and like an oracle in the middle of the noon. How can I know what she means? Gate 13 at soccer, Cannoli, any game in Palermo? Basketball? What the fuck?
I am thirsty. I want to ask what are all these and why her eyes go here and there and what the hell she remembered, but her mouth is dry. Two stupid people are next to us and I didn’t want them to hear. I am holding myself and then after some dried hours of sunbathing we are leaving.
The night is coming with his shameless confessions. You know when I am saying, I talk all the time about her THEN, when the person is undressing from inside, but she has undressed her body, now she undresses her soul. It is that time before sleeping tired and into the sweetness.
-What are these three crazy words, will you tell me? Italy, cannoli, thirteen?
-It has no meaning, they came to my mind, I told them. I am furious.
-With what are you furious?
-I don’t want to talk. You won’t understand and you will be disgusted by me.
-Am I going to be disgusted by you? My little flower, do you think I am stupid? I am listening to you till the end. Don’t keep secrets from me and talk.
-I don’t want.
-(I also don’t want to hear, but you have decided that you will tell me). So, hey, talk, share the story, it’s over.
-I DON’T WANT!
-…(do you think I got away with it?…)
-So well, I will tell you. But promise that you won’t talk ever about it.
A moment of silence, Desperate took in order to confess in the right way and completely.
-To whom to talk? Tell me, damn, you were like possessed in the noon.
-Ok. So. I am thirteen years old. I don’t know what is going on to me. We went with my dad in Sicily. He vowed us that this was vacations. But it is not vacations. My father is running from a supplier to another. He makes deals for marbles. My mum one day is sunbathing at the pool of the hotel and the other is going for shopping and coming back the next morning. I find different little kinds that from times to times I talk to, because I want to practice my Italian. I find interest on that game with the words, you know, how to speak with the other, to hear and try to imitate what they are saying with the accent that they are using. One afternoon, I am eating breakfast at the hotel’s café. My dad has going for marbles and others. He made me really sad, my mum as well is missing with her stuff. I am eating alone. You know? Thirteen years old, I am eating alone in a strange country.
(On the flag of Sicily, we see a Triskelion. Three human bent legs with Medusa’s head, Gorgo in the centre and three golden ears of grain. The roasting glomerular symbolizes the triangle shape of the island of Sicily. Or the cycle of the rural livelihood? Or maybe the recycle of each trauma that, as much as you can analyse will come again and will affect every new experience. )
-I understand. Your mom couldn’t take you with you?
-She didn’t want. She should have taken me with her. Things would have been different. I had told her, but she used to say that I want to buy things all the time and I make her mad. But I never asked for anything. I am left alone in the hotel anyway, eating bread with nutella and milk. I had ordered them alone and I am very happy about it. In Italian! You know now, little stupid joys of life. Linguistic joys. While I am eating the second slice of bread, a man is appearing, Massimo. He speaks Sicilian. And makes everything with “ou” like all Sicilians speak. I understand that he has a wrong accent, but I take it as a game. I would like to see if I could manage to speak.
“Come here” he tells me and invites me to his table. He tells me different things in Sicilian, when he finds out that I am Greek, he tells me about Magna Grecia, for the Posidon’s temple and all these impressive things. He speaks so beautiful. And the thing I like, is that I see finally the sights of the region. Because since we arrived, I was in the hotel without doing any sightseeing. Dad was working, mum was out and I was alone from times to times in the pool. I was bored and mister Massimo was like taking me for a walk with everything he was saying. And then Massimo took advantage, started chewing on me and, well, you know.
-What did he do? You don’t tell me all the details. What happened?
-Pfff, you are going too far little stupid boy! Don’t go there, I said. Well, I am thirteen. A little girl, ok?
-(Ok I know some girls who have done a lot) How much a little girl?
-Just a little girl. Don’t laugh with evil. I will smash you, don’t laugh.
-I don’t laugh, speak.
-I don’t know what. Mr. Massimo told me one moment, if I had eaten cannoli here in Sicily. I told him with respect that I didn’t have the chance to eat cannoli. What is it? Ma e stupendo! He screams. He did two claps with his fingers and calls his friend from the hotel, Mario, the waiter, to bring us two cannolis. Later he starts explaining to me, how they are made. So yes, the recipe. We bake like that the biscuit, and we put inside the cream and over it some sugar and it is molto molto buono. Very nice. I try from the plate and it is indeed very nice. “Buonissimo” I told him, to see if I can say correctly the superlative form of the word. Linguistic joys.
Later he proposed me to see how it is made as he knows the chef of the hotel. I was too bored sitting there, you understand. Dad would return around late afternoon, he would sleep directly after coming and for mom I didn’t even know when she would return. If the time passes like that, then let’s learn how cannoli is made, I thought. So I went to the kitchen. They showed me there how this sweet is made. But just before he threw the powder sugar, he asked me if I was tired. Sei stanca signiorina Kostantina? I wasn’t tired, but like this, for the linguistic game, I told him to see if I said correctly the conditionals It doesn’t matter if we stop a little bit, “Non ce problema di risposare un po, va bene” and we stopped making the dessert.
“Sit a little bit to tell you a story” he told me and made me sit on his laps. He told me about cannoli’s story and how it has been created and that it was a gift for the weddings, that the groom gives it to the woman that he loves before getting married and so on. It is also the sweet of the Carnival. That now we do not eat meat, we eat cannoli. Of course, this sweet was looking like. What to say? It seemed like. Its skin is made from biscuit “ La scorzza di biscotto” he said and I wondered about which skin. Later I thought that he might mean the crust, as it was really made by biscuit. And that “scettru di ogni re e virga di Moise”, he says it is “The sceptre of the Kind and the rod of Moses.” The rod scared me a little bit. Because with the rod…. We spank.
But he kept it on. Kept on saying things. The cannoli can be made in various sizes, large, small, and stocky, e dimensioni variabile, grande piccolo, tozzo, lungho. And while saying these to me, he was playing with me. He put me on his lap. Started making me jump up and down. I liked this. A man was playing with me, I was a child and I wanted to play. Mister Massimo suddenly started looking like my dad. Later he started tickling me and blowing my neck, like my dad did when I was a younger. I shuddered. Did I like it? I liked it.
“Once upon a time, cannolis were made by reeds that they found in the river. “Un tempu i cannoli siciliani venivanu preparati arrotolandu la pasta intornu a canne di fiumu. Fiume Fiume. He always said that and I was getting crazy. And these games continued. He moved up and down his laps and I was sitting on him. I remembered my grandma who used to play like that, telling me fairy tales. Mister Massimo laughed and looked so nice. I felt very familiar. I felt as if I knew him for years and finally somebody loved me and played with me. Even if I couldn’t understand the Sicilian words from the children’s song he was telling me. Very long story this sweet, he said, una storia lunghissima, lunghissima, lunghissima. The superlative form again. And he stretched his both hands in the air. Showing me how long is the story of cannoli.
While he was blowing on my neck, he kissed me on the mouth, and I froze. Neither my dad nor my grandma did that in the past. I got scared but I liked it. I saw dad and mom kissing once and I told them to kiss a little bit more but they used to stop and fight again. Now signore Massimo had kissed me and it was a little scary, but nice. Later he told me something that I saw only in the movies, but I didn’t know what it meant. “Ti amo. Ti voglio. Allora facciamo un po di zucchero per gli cannoli?” He loved me, he wanted me. What did he want from me? To make a little sugar for the cannoli. Pero guarda il mio cannolo e gioccha un po per il zucchero, va bene? But look at my little cannoli and play a bit until we get sugar, ok? At piana dei Albanesi, near Palermo, we have the biggest cannoli and you cannot find them anywhere else across Sicily. Sono cannoli enormi, dalle dimensioni difficulmente riscontabili in altre zone della Sicilia. Anche io, sono dalla Piana dei Albanesi, and I am from Piana of Albanians, and oh mio Dio Enormi, enormi, enormi, he insisted that I need to see them in order to understand.
(The Desperate stopped for a moment, looked into the dark room and puffed away shaking over the canopy of the bed. Sighing, took power and continued)
Then signore Massimo moved me from his legs and opened his zipper. He showed me something that I had seen at my dad again, I was afraid of it because I didn’t know what it is. He made me play. «Until the sugar pours out» he said. Or at least a little white ricotta cheese. Strizzare la ricotta con le mani, we squeeze ricotta with the hand, tight, in order not to have much space inside the tiny biscuit. Capisci?
– (What ricotta you foolish girl) And what did you do?
-I squeezed it. And I saw it growing, becoming really so big and got scared. You know, this terror, when you want a bit of it, but you don’t want it at the same time. I didn’t want it. But I continued playing with what he said, because I was curious how to get sugar from there. But sugar couldn’t get out from the cannoli. It was going red, growing and hardened.
Then signore Massimo told me to stop and kissed me again on the mouth. “The sugar should not get out like that”. He explained. Then he moved me back to his laps, naked, and started playing with me again. I liked this game and I liked that he kissed me all the time. “Bella donna la tua minigonna?” “My beautiful lady, your mini skirt?” he said stupidly, without a reason and I took it off. He called me donna, I was a lady, I was not thirteen. You know? And suddenly, I felt something strange between my legs. As if I wanted to go to the toilet, but I didn’t want. What I felt, went deep in my belly and reached in my heart. I got scared again and abruptly got up from mister Massimo’s legs.
“You ain’t going anywhere. You are a woman and you are not entitled to go anywhere. Shut up!” He yelled and pulled me violently. Now I got scared for good. I got into tears. “Do not cry” he told me “Ti amo”. I calmed down a bit, he loved me, he wouldn’t do bad to me, I thought. He pulled me gently by my elbow and pushed me in front of the cannoli we had prepared amongst his thighs. “Guarda” he told me, and he showed me the cannolis. I couldn’t get dressed, I couldn’t move. As I was looking at the cannoli, signore Massimo pushed himself inside of me. I died of pain. I didn’t know what he did but I couldn’t get away from him anymore. He was holding me tight from my neck. I feared that I would die. But I wasn’t dying. I wanted to scream, to shout aloud, so that someone could hear me and take me away from signore Massimo’s hands, but nobody was there, nobody could hear me, you know, I wanted to shout in greek now, I was bored practicing Italian and everything. I wanted my dad to be there, to get signore Massimo out, to take him away and everything to calm down. But dad was not there.
Once he had pushed me four or five times against the bench with the cannolis and I had dripped with blood, signore Massimo stopped. “Ecco il zucchero” he said cheerfully and showed me the cannoli. White liquid was pouring out of his cannoli, liquid that didn’t look much like sugar. Okay, it might resemble a bit of icing pastry or syrup, but definitely not sugar. It smelled awful but nice at the same time. I didn’t feel any satisfaction, but signore Massimo told me that I pulled the sugar out and we would make sugar until I grow up and he would take me to stay together in Sicily and would buy me all the toys in the world.
I loved mister Massimo, when he said these words, like that, in the Italian of the South, everything with “u”. I believed in him. He suggested I should go and take a bath in my room and not tell anything to anyone, because what am I, I am a girl, so I should shut up, neither to dad nor to mom. He would come the next day to tell them, like a real man, about the agreement the two of us made, I will go with him to Sicily. I did as he told me. That night, I fell asleep and mom did not find out anything about the incident.
The following day at breakfast, I saw signore Massimo. I wanted to go and kiss him. I wanted him to play with me again. But today he had with company. That tall, brunette Italian. And a little girl. He called me to his table. “La mia figlia, Carlotta! Tredici anni fa, come te!” he told and he introduced me to his daughter. She was the same age with me. He had a wife and a child, little Carlotta.
I burst into tears and left the restaurant. Dad was still away, mom the same and I stayed alone in the empty room, alone crying. Since then, I detested food and men. I usually forget to eat for days, for the whole day. I hate Cannoli. I hate Italy. I am disgusted…
-Are you disgusted by me as well?
-No, you dumb. With you, it’s different. You take me back and before all of that.
-Are you sure? Hate is a bad thing anyway, if you hate everyone and everything, without a reason.
-I don’t hate anything. I am disgusted by him. He had a child. Can you imagine?Tell me, do you love me?
-What a big question! Why don’t you finish with hate, to start with love?
-Do you love me?
-ὡς λύκοι ἄρνας ἀγαπῶσιν, ὣς παῖδα φιλοῦσιν ἐρασταί
-Do you love me?
-Good night, my lentil.
And the night falls in Palermo.