The french lady of Ispra

The french lady of Ispra

When I lived in Ispra, I experienced something strange. Every time I walked with sadness in my soul through those streets without sidewalks, an elderly lady would appear to me, speaking the most perfect French that exists. In fact, I struggled when responding to her because she always corrected my vulgarities, my pronunciation, and my horrible conjugations.

She is a rather polite lady who has, on more than one occasion, gifted me anecdotes from her childhood, her marriage, and the ungrateful daughters who never visit her. Furthermore, she knows the entire history of the town, has the surnames of both large and small families memorized, is aware of the businesses that open and close, and has witnessed the growth of four or five generations. Sometimes, she talks for hours, not even flinching when I have to leave; I believe she emotionally manipulates me to free herself from loneliness. In any case, I don't suffer much; the craft of listening to stories is beautiful.

This past weekend, upon returning home, she appeared to me again. This time she was truly haggard, as if she had aged twenty years in one. She told me she had suffered a stroke and, upon regaining consciousness, spent an entire day on the floor of her house unable to move. Doctors filled her with pills and treatments, and now she is undergoing physical and mental rehabilitation. However, she confesses that all these things only prolong the agony. "Life has become so long, and death won't take even a second," she said with a bitter tone.

Upon saying our goodbyes, we shared a fraternal hug, perhaps the last. After taking a few steps, I realized I never knew her name, nor did she know mine. I think it's better this way; perhaps, if I ever mention her name, everything will cease to be real.

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