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My sister is a four-leafed clover

· A story that adults can learn from ·

Viola has a new baby sister whom it has been decided to call Mimosa (“because they are two flowers and violet and yellow are two colours that go well together”). She is very happy, although she realizes that something must be wrong: her father, mother and grandparents are behaving very strangely. They are angry, they are sad, they cry, they stare into space, they escape or even do not let themselves be seen. Thus it is primarily through the reactions of the adults that the awareness of Mimosa's differentness gradually makes headway in Violet. She is special like a four-leafed-clover.

This is the plot of a splendid book for children by Beatrice Masini and Svjetlan Junaković ( Mia sorella è un quadrifoglio, Milan, Carthusia 2012, 32 pages, € 15.90). It has an eloquent dedication: “This story is for those children those grown-ups who are not content with being all alike and are not afraid of being different”. It is a story that was conceived in order to speak to children with disabilities and, in particular, of what it means for a family to accept the birth of a disabled child.

Instead of streams of empty and bombastic rhetoric, a schizophrenic ideology between individual desire and political correctness, this colourful tale deals simply and calmly with complex subjects such as diversity and acceptance. And it does so through the look, curiosity, fear and daily experience of a child who finds herself in the delicate position of being a sister: “I had already realized by myself that Mimosa was different from other children. But one can't actually say sorry for what she is. That's  how it is and that's that”.

Viola's story is the story of a meeting and a discovery; of a little girl who observes herself, Mimosa and their relationship (“sometimes I  don't like my sister, but perhaps every now and then she does not like me.... So we are the same, and we are always sisters”); she observes their mother (“I now have two flowers in my house” she says, “and I have to water both of them”),  and their father (who has the face of someone who has slept badly), as well as the other adults.

Having got over her initial jealousy, only Viola seems to understand properly that everyone, in his or her own way, is special. Precious like a rare four-leafed-clover. Martino, her new (and hateful) school companion, teases her: “Your sister isn't normal at all”.

Sooner or later I will pay Martino back. In any case he is right. My sister is not normal. She is special. Being normal means being the same: like blades of grass, like clover in a field. Instead my sister is a four-leafed-clover. Four-leafed-clovers are rare and are different. They are rare because they are different. They are different because they are rare. Everyone would like to find one, but few succeed. Four-leafed-clovers bring good luck. We have the good luck to have one of our own: Mimosa, the four-leafed-clover”.

Viola's voice is very precious. Her gaze can indicate to us fearful adults the direction we should take.




St. Peter’s Square

Dec. 14, 2019