When Giacomo Rosta abandoned sleep, the sound that had invaded his dreamlike illusions of everlasting and never banal loves escaped with him. A feeble and grave sound, barely perceptible in the nocturnal silence and yet so alive, so intense that nothing could have covered it. A loud and clear sound, a dead bell in the silent night, yet totally non-existent, if no one had stopped to listen to it.
Giacomo Rosta slipped out of the covers and moved to the window, scanning the darkness like a blind man with the sun. He could perceive distinctly the tragic anguish and the gloomy pain enclosed in that lament and decided to make them his own. He had always led a solitary life, bordering on death; he had allowed himself to live without ever fighting for not dying. But, at that moment, someone needed him, and he had never felt so alive.
The wardrobe, the door, the street. The sound guided Giacomo Rosta as if holding him by the hand. The despair it expressed grew and grew. The silent shadow accelerated the pace, the heart accelerated its beating, and the anxiety of not managing to arrive in time started to take over. For what, then?
As soon as he had turned into a familiar street, Giacomo Rosta realized with certainty where he was headed and further accelerated the pace. He rushed toward the entrance to the Emergency Room of the nearby C.T.O. and managed to get in, unnoticed by anyone; almost as if, at that moment, he hadn’t existed except to listen to that lament, just as the lament would not have existed, had Giacomo Rosta not agreed to listen to it.
The stairs, now in a hurry, with the heartbeats matching the crying. The door, the room; while the lament resounded in the soul of Giacomo Rosta with such intensity that it would never leave him again.
On the only bed, the lifeless body of an old man with a sad expression. On a nearby chair, the trembling figure, scarred by the time, of a woman with wet eyes who turned her wedding ring over between her fingers like a rosary.
“I only wished for someone to know how much we loved each other,” she murmured without raising his head, bent over her husband.
Giacomo Rosta narrowed his eyes, walking slowly toward the door from which he had entered, while his heart, disconcerted, reflected on the existence of such pain, and his soul bent on itself, uncertain of its own identity. As he left the room, the man was not at all surprised when he heard the wedding ring fall onto the floor.
The lament had ceased.
[First written as “Il lamento” in 1996. Re-edited in 2018 with the help of Sonia Lombardo. Translated from the Italian by Sabrina Beretta and edited by Karen Rought in 2019.]