Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The measure of man

Man is the measure of all things (Protagoras).
It's two hours that I am waiting and who cares if they look at me, I grumble in a low voice while I look for a corner in the mirror to check my hair and adjust my tie. There are several things in the mirror: synthetic material backs showing off branded jackets, legs slipped in linen trousers because summer is approaching, strange structures, vaguely anthropomorphic, to support shirts or sweathers, those ones that must be carried carelessly on one's shoulders, and there, between two pairs of moccasins, there is also my head, my face a little nervous, serious, hopeful.
People stare at me, somebody smiles, others give a nudge with the elbow to a mate to make him look at me, and I know that it's not because for what I am wearing. Dressed or in the nude i am not going to pass unnoticed. I collected some flowers in the nearby park, nothing exceptional, simple flowers that were there, easy to pick up. I don't even know their name.
Will she come? I doubt it, because I know how difficult it is to overcome a fear that is not fear, a shame that is not shame, the most innocent guilt. I doubt and, to win the distrust of the hours spent in waiting I light a cigarette. Now I attract much more the looks of the passers-by. It's always like that. "He's smoking", "He's eating", "He's crying". Anything I do it's always like that.
All of the sudden I look at the bunch of flowers and i notice that my hand, instead of holding, it grinds them, it chokes them with that minimum violence enough to defeat their fragile plant necks. I smile thinking how they wither in such a minimum lapse of time like the flags of an as much minimum and defeated army, and their ragged petals tell me that it's time to start my retreat.
I throw the flowers in the first trash bin and I go away, followed by the looks of the passers-by and their voices that say: did you see how the dwarf threw the flowers away? Did he have a date? With a dwarf-girl? They left the dwarf in the lurch. Dwarves are strange, and other comments on which stature i wouldn't and shouldn't say anything.

Luis Sepúlveda, La lampada di Aladino (Italian translation of La lámpara de Aladino) - English translation of mine.
Some time ago I watched on the TV program "La Vita in Diretta", this interview with Marco Sessa, vice-president of AISAC, Associazione per l'Informazione e lo Studio dell'Acondroplasia [Association for the Information and Study on Achondoplasia].
Usually i am not very interested in this gossip program, but in that occasion it had been suggested to me by a very close person, a mother of an achondroplastic boy, who knew that interview was scheduled for that day.

I'll spare you a search on Wikipedia: Achondroplasia is a genetical disease, a form of nanism. It particularily affects the limbs, that develops much less than the rest of the body (for whomever is interested here is the link.

Besides the medical side and the problem of the architectural feature that denies
access, what surprised me in the interview was the observation of how, although I have a case so close, I have never before considered the humiliation of who is affected by this syndrome. Every time they are mentioned as abnormal phenomena, the dwarf is considered a freak, and that word is lost in insult. I think to circuses, but also to other works of any cultural level (Snow White fairy tale, Lord of the Rings saga, Fantasy Island tv series, the song Il Giudice by De André...).
Or even the implicit offense towards them when they are compared with disdain to Berlusconi (psycho-dwarf), with a bad taste comparable to the one of Berlusconi himself towards the color of Obama's skin (sun-tanned), almost like if the physical stature was some way a mirror of the moral one...

Since that day I am trying to learn to weigh better that word.

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