· Vatican City ·


* Letter
“I started writing to you when my daughter was born. You are all our daughters, we are responsible for you. And, yes, this is a letter to ask for forgiveness”.

Girls born in war

 Bambine  nate in guerra  DCM-003
04 March 2023

Dear girls born in wartime, (in all times, in all wars), I started writing this letter to you on the March 10, 2022. I was in hospital and every now and then a doctor came by to check on me; when she entered the room, however, she did not always see me. I was usually locked in the bathroom, bent over in pain. Yes, I was not well at all, even though I would soon experience the most beautiful moment of my life, when I could hold my daughter in my arms. However, for the moment, my daughter was still in my belly, well positioned to come out, heading towards life, towards the world. What world? In those hours, I began to feel responsible for everything that took place on earth, for every moment that from that moment on I would no longer squander, for every beauty that I would treasure. I was alone in a hospital room, going through labor pains, looking at the leaves, the trees in the garden, which were green and ruffled at the window. I was watching the light fade from the peak of midday to the grey of the afternoon to the darkness of the evening, and the hours were marked by the speed and intensity of my increasing contractions. I could hear voices behind the door, voices of doctors and nurses, midwives and parturient. However, I was elsewhere. I seemed to be everywhere. My daughter was multiplying into all the girls I had met in my life, becoming every look, every smile and every cry. The drip attached to my arm was doing its duty and the little girl was doing hers too - the doctor told me later - she had never lost a heartbeat, she kept going down one centimetre after another towards the world. The world, I said, that I was about to introduce to her.

I had two books and a notebook on my bedside table, which I had brought, certain that the pages of my favourite literature would, as always, speak to me, console me, enrich me, hold my hand. Instead, at that moment I was no longer interested in going somewhere else, I was interested in the present. I cared about life, and the world was all wrapped up in one word, “future”, which I had long rejected in the past. I watched the news, and the news of the day was that a children's hospital had been bombed in Marjupol, Ukraine. The images of fleeing women with their baby bump struck me with a violence that made me forget all other pain. I entered the delivery room with them - with those women and their escapes, with what was not happening to me, or maybe it was. A few hours after midnight my daughter would be born, and then everything would concern me.

Dear little girls born in wartime, I am not sure why I am writing to you. I have nothing to teach you - it is you who will teach me. It is you who will tell or choose not to tell, to tell in another way, what you know more than we do. Dear girls - I should also say dear children, but I know your lot better than I know theirs, and I know that the burden that now seems equal for you could be doubled - dear girls, I can only be ashamed, and very ashamed, to have been born in this part of the world. Virginia Woolf wrote that until we think peace, we all find ourselves in one buzzing, deadly darkness above our heads, and she wrote that this word, “all”, also includes the bodies of people who have not yet been born. I do not know how to find better words than the ones she wrote, I can only speak or keep silent, and usually in these cases I prefer the second way. If I have agreed to take the floor, it is because in an awkward and absolute way, I want to say that you are all our daughters. That we are responsible for you, that we carry a great guilt and that with that word, world, we have not been able to do much good. And, yes, this is a letter asking for forgiveness.