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 – CCIX. Our Daily Life (18 of 19)

With Ben and the Palachi gone, we found ourself alone at the inn. We didn’t feel lonely, for there were plenty of Egyptians at Torinesi; nevertheless, we felt that the time had come to find a more homey place to stay until we saw the light at the end of our tunnel.

My mother wanted a place where she could cook, for we were getting tired of restaurant food. And it was Paolo that suggested that we rent two rooms in a house and live with a family. Many households complemented their income this way.

And so we combed the classified ads in the hope of finding adequate rooms to rent. It wasn’t easy, but it didn’t require us to fight tooth and nail to get something decent. It also helped that our allowance permitted us to pay (if necessary) a high rent.

There are certain people and events, related to our stay in Italy, that we will never forget. Mrs. Vranichichi was certainly such a person. I could tell you she was affable, amiable, friendly, and caring. She was all that, but what distinguished her from everybody else I met in my life was that she was a person full of love; and you couldn’t help but love her in return. And if she really took to you, she shared her affection the moment she met you.

La Signora Vranichichi had a beautiful home, and the two rooms available for rent were tastefully decorated and furnished. Cleanliness reigned supreme everywhere. The kitchen and bathroom belonged in a showroom. And, yes, La Signora Ezri could cook and hopefully pass on to her some Egyptian recipes.

We had to control ourselves, and do our best to assume a neutral expression, for otherwise our rent would have matched our enthusiasm!

The ad didn’t mention the rent, few ads did. Therefore, we needed to negotiate. For such rooms, we expected a steep rent. But what we finally settled on was reasonable and well within our budget.

And so, for the next few months, we became adopted members of La Famiglia (family) Vranichichi.

Mrs. Vranichichi was a widow. She had two sons who meant the world to her. The youngest Giancarlo was still in high school; the oldest Giovanno was a sailor on a large cruise ship.

Giancarlo was a serious student, for he eventually wanted to go to university and enter a profession. But, as yet, he wasn’t sure which one. He also played the fisarmonica (accordion); and when he had the time, he played for an attentive audience, for his playing was bewitching, and his choice of music superb.

There are so many buttons and keys to press, that I remarked that it was hell to master such an instrument. Giancarlo heartily agreed and told me that it took him 10 years to get to that skill level. (Many years later, my daughter taught me to play the piano. Alas, I didn’t have Giancarlo’s talent, and after 10 years I gave up on it!)

One day, La Signora told us that she had a surprise for us. What was it? Well, it wouldn’t be a surprise if she told us, would it? But Giancarlo let the cat out of the bag. His older brother Giovanno was coming and would be in Genoa for a while. His mamma was beside herself with joy. Of course, we were sworn to secrecy, and we did indeed keep a poker face. La Signora never suspected that we knew the exact date her beloved son was coming.

On the stated day, a handsome sailor walked in the house and greeted us. When his mamma heard his voice, she came out of the kitchen, let out a scream of joy, and hugged him to within an inch of his life! Baci (kisses) from both mother and brother rained on poor Giovanno. But he was not finished. He was required to kiss and hug the new annex to la famiglia, the Ezri clan. And, he enthusiastically did just that.

A day before, my mother had been instructed not to cook anything; we would be the guests of the Vranichichi family for supper. That was part of the surprise, as for the rest she could not tell us. (But, of course, we already knew that an overseas guest would be at the table!)

And so the families sat to a magnificent Italian meal, accompanied, of course, by the appropriate wines, and a Port wine brought by Giovanno for the dessert.

We were not too drunk to appreciate the offer Giovanno next made to us. Would we be interested to visit the ship on which he worked? We would love to was our response. And so, he secured the necessary permission and took us to a personalized tour we never forgot.

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