Tuesday, 4 October 2005

Feeling low

When we had just come to live in Italy, I found that clouds had a different effect on me, compared to others living here. They would say, "What a pity, it is cloudy" and I would say, "Lovely, it is cloudy today!" People asked me if I didn't like the sun and I would answer, "No thanks, I have had enough of sun to last me a life."

I was not right. After about two decades, I share the gloom around me when summer ends and autumn comes with its lovely colours, cold winds and rains. The joy of listening to thunderstorms, waiting for the hard pitter-patter of the rain drops, I haven't forgotten - they are like words read in a book, there and yet not so real.

I haven't been depressed ever. I mean, there are days that I feel low but I have never experienced that bottomless pit of gloom that is depression, where nothing seems to touch you. Yet it is one of those things that make me most afraid. Pietro, our neighbour has that. His whole body changes. Becomes kind of stiff. He doesn't look up or move, remaining in the same position for hours, gazing into nothingness. He feels guilty to be alive, that he did not die when the Germans killed his sister. He had run away in the forest. His sister wanted to come with him. "No you go back to home, you are safe there. Here you will slow us down", he had said. Germans won't kill young girls he had thought. Maria, 17 years, was shot dead in the village square with 34 other persons, as a reprisal for the Italian Resistance's attack on German soldiers.

Today is the anniversary of that massacre. It was 4th October 1943. Pietro will go there for the ceremony. Hopefully, after a few days, he can come out of this depression.

So many persons around us have to take anti-depression medication, I can't believe. It is as if there a silent epidemic all around us. It waits behind comfortable houses, perfect marriages, smiling picture postcard families.

Perhaps we human beings have not evolved enough? We are still the hunter-gatherer-fighter needing challenges and if things go too well, if we don't need to run and rush, we get depressed?

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