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A sentimental investigation to revive an unknown mother

 Una indagine sentimentale  per far rivivere una madre non conosciuta  DCM-011
03 December 2022

Maria Grazia Calandrone, Dove non mi hai portata
[Where you did not take me], Einaudi

Maria Grazia Calandrone’s father and mother left her when she was eight months old in the Roman park of Villa Borghese, one hot June day in 1965, hoping that she would find a kind-hearted family. Then the couple chose to throw themselves into the Tiber to put an end to an agra life. The father could not find work while the mother, Lucia Galante, had run away from her husband and Maria Grazia was thus born of a love that was illegal at the time. Calandrone waited more than fifty years, and significantly also waited for her own motherhood of a daughter, before sinking her hands into the matter of her own origins, resulting in an exceptional poetic investigation into the Molise girl, the daughter of sharecroppers, who gave birth to her. Lucia Galante was given in marriage against her will to a man who never got to be a husband and who beat her for it. Calandrone explores the places of marital imprisonment, like the wretched hovel with no bathroom, the mattress of brushwood. Freedom comes with Giuseppe, a master builder, a man who already had a wife and children but who for Lucia abandoned everything, even his own life.

Calandrone lays evanescent and disconnected clues on the table that gradually become hypothesis, tale and finally poetry. The suitcases abandoned by the parents in a square in Rome, the city they did not know but chose for their daughter Maria Grazia. The visit to the love of their youth. The body of the father Giuseppe, found and never officially recognised by the family.

The fimage of Lucia, who makes the unspeakable gesture of separating herself from her child, is immersed in understanding and forgiveness. One by one, Calandrone erases suspicions that she was a wretch, or an unworthy mother. She finds the Milanese hospital documents, which is where she was born and discovers that in order to distance the child from the scandal of concubinage and adultery - these were Lucia’s crimes for which she could end up in prison - her mother declared that Maria Grazia was the daughter of her legitimate husband and not of the man she had chosen. She discovers that the steps taken by her parents before abandoning themselves to the great river in Rome were dictated by the sole concern that her story would resonate in the newspapers to attract the best possible attention. Maria Grazia discovers that her mother’s love, though invisible because she was absent, was embodied in the clean, dry clothes, in the hugs that remain like an imprint. By retracing her steps, Calandrone reverses roles and becomes the poetic mother of her own mother, whom in the last page she calls “my daughter”.  The journey ends at the cemetery in Palata, her home village, where Lucia Galante did not have a funeral mass because she had committed suicide. Here, Calandrone writes, “I can finally caress my mother's face, and her body of light and nothingness (...) Lucia had second grade education, but she was free. Because she had heart. The one that still shines, irreparabile”.