I had just taken a shower, went back to my room and was sitting at my desk, in my pajamas; I was finishing some schoolwork for the next day, before going to bed, when my father, after knocking on my door, came in and introduced his head, then opened it and went inside.
My father had always had an authoritarian personality, but not imposed by force; his interlocutors, myself included, recognized in him a charisma and an almost obligatory right to respect. After all, he was an army officer, accustomed to harshness in his behavior and, above all, to command and to be obeyed.
‘I need to tell you something very important. Here with you we can rest assured ‘.
I imagined it was a further reprimand and a reminder of my duties, obviously not observed: I waited, therefore, for the reproach to come.
It was not so: he had just received the announcement of his imminent departure for Iraq, to participate in the war campaign against Saddam Hussein. Far from expressing any form of emotion for what was a difficult and risky mission, he had prepared and had his orderly typewrite a ‘list of duties’ that I would have to perform during his absence, the duration of which was not established, but which was assumed to be long.
He placed it delicately on the corner of my desk: some of his subtleties contrasted with his authoritarian character and, after all, I was very fond of him. The sheet contained the list of daily chores I would have to attend to, such as keeping my room clean and tidy, taking out the trash, helping Mom in the kitchen and making sure the front door in the evening, before going to bed, was hermetically closed. Then the weekly ones, such as mowing the lawn and cleaning the garage. Then again the monthly ones, like leveling the border hedge of the garden of our villa, checking the oil level and the tire pressure of our car. Finally, there were the seasonal tasks: antifreeze in the car’s cooling circuit, fertilizing the lawn and fertilizing the plants in the garden.
In addition there were also the ‘Devi’ and ‘You can’t’: ‘you must’ come home no later than ten and on weekends no later than eleven, ‘you can’t’ take girls home, etc., etc.
Incredible! My father behaved with me as he did with his troop. I was used to it, but this was the height…