Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Italy – CCIV. Our Daily Life (13 of 19)

During one of his visits, Signor Levy asked my father whether his children were going to take Italian lessons. Remember that at this point we were financially supported as long as we indicated that we intended to stay in Italy. Needless to say, if we changed our minds and immigrated to another country, that was fine. At this stage, however, it was a matter of show us (The Genovese Jewish Community) that you’re serious about trying to establish yourself in Italy.

If Nisso was taken by surprise, he didn’t show it. I was not there, but my mother later told me that dad simply said, “of course, we are arranging that right now.”

What about Nisso and Fola? Later. Right now, they had so much to do. Taking Italian lessons, on top of trying to determine if Italy was suitable for their family, or whether they should try to immigrate to another country, and embark on the complex process of doing so, would have been too much.

Really, Levy never broached the subject; it was my parents that inserted the question, and answered it. Signor Levy, heartily agreed with them: “Benissimo.” (Fine). He then added, “capisco perfettamente la vostra situazione.” (I fully understand your situation. Note that he used the second person in the plural; “vostra” is a polite way of saying it and you use it when you don’t want to come across as being too familiar. Had he used “tua,” it wouldn’t have too polite since he doesn’t know my parents that well. The same polite device is used in French if you just meet somebody, or if you’re addressing a person in authority).

My father wasn’t lying when he said, “… we are arranging that right now.” Whether we stayed in Italy or not, my parents wanted their children to formally learn Italian. Why? Egyptians are firm believers that you cannot stack too many languages in your brain! You’re a poor person if you only know one or two languages! And indeed there was actually a teacher that was waiting for us to come for our first lesson!

The news delighted both Robert and myself. Italian is so easy, it would be a breeze. But we would soon learn otherwise.

Who was that teacher? Back when Fola was a single young woman living in Alexandria, she had a friend older than her. Despite a difference in age, they saw each other often. One day, that friend announced to my mom that she was getting married to an Italian man, and would leave Egypt. Her fiancĂ© had lived in Alexandria for many years, but now he wanted to go back to his native Genoa, and that friend couldn’t be any happier. This would be her chance to spend the rest of her life in Europe.

And so it was that many years later, mom searched and found that old friend. And they reconnected again.

The family name of her husband was Caselli, and it didn’t take long to find the Casellis in the phone book.

Their first visit was a long one. After all, they had to catch up on many decades. And the Casellis had all the time in the world to bring the past to life, for Mr. Caselli was now retired. You probably guessed by now what this gentleman profession was. Yes, he was a teacher, and he taught Italian! And, yes, he would be more then willing to teach Robert and I. Signora Caselli warned my parents that her a husband was a strict teacher. She was joking, of course. But where she was serious was that her husband was very pedant and tolerated no shortcuts.

My parents were delighted to hear that. And, surprisingly, so were their children!

And so a new chapter began in our daily life.

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