Ricordo solo gli odori (I only remember the smells)
Rafael Cordero's Story, documented by FabioFasiello
Rafael is a man whose life has scratched all the furrows in his skin. It has done so sometimes unfairly, sometimes undeservedly, but it has done so. He did it because thinking outside the box, being a man of "thought", as he calls himself, inevitably leads to consequences. Life deals cards, and it deals them once. You can't repeat them, you can only bet on what you have. You can only hope that, in the incessant coming and going of the world, there will come a moment when your hand is the best. Rafael is still waiting for this moment. He has been waiting for it since 2013, when he fled Venezuela after the death of Chàvez, who was succeeded by Maduro.
For a man of "thought", living under the heavy shadow of a dictator is unbearable. Even more so when you are not only a thinker but also an activist, a teacher or a journalist. Taking the front line against your government has consequences, your hand can't win. It is always the bank that wins. There is no other solution, then, but to embark on the long journey of life, with no choice but to wait for a better hand.
Hope, very often, in literature as in real life, becomes a journey. A journey that nowadays is assimilated to a negative connotation, to a political tone, to a tone of diversity. First Cuba, then Iran, until arriving in Italy. This was the journey that Rafael had to face. Travelling also means knowledge, but in this case it means above all escaping, admitting one's own guilt.
Rafael Cordero Portrait
And so it is that once in Italy, once in Rome, that fateful call comes that sanctions Raphael's defeat. "Don't come back, they have seized your house". A few simple words, like an epitaph on the tomb of Lee Masters' Spoon River Hill. The bank always wins, the bank has won. Useless applications for asylum as a political refugee, useless attempts at clarification. The bank has won, the professor knows it, the "thinking" man knows it, Rafael knows it. From this moment on, life begins to scratch Rafael, begins to scratch the man. Like a rock polished by the gulf wind. And so begins a life in the street, in Rome. First Termini station, then San Gregorio al Celio.
Discrimination begins, feeling unfairly out of place for a fault, not your own. You have to wait for a better hand, a hand that can give you some hope. This hand comes, exactly for the reason that you can no longer return to Venezuela, because of your political thinking. What helps him in difficult times is the occupation of the Viale delle Province, near Verano. The epitaph this time has a different sound, it smells of hope.
A roof over the shoulders of a man of "thought" can serve not only to protect, but to invent. Raphael is about to get a good hand. Through the network of professions in Rome and by means of various donations, he manages to set up something never seen before: a library. The "Mondo piccolo" library.
A library, a space of inclusion par excellence, within an occupation is in itself an oxymoron, but at the same time a confirmation. It is a confirmation because it aims to create aggregation between the various "condominiums", but above all it also aims to create inclusion with the outside world.
The occupation is a grey reality, made up of various entities that manage to rebuild dignity and fight for the right to housing, but which at the same time goes beyond the laws, creating a thread of tension between what is inside and what is outside.
Entrance of the occupation Vialle delle Province
A library triggers this thread, and as well as opening the mind it also opens up hitherto unsurpassed.
It is a "small world" of a man who never gave up and never backed down, who kept playing, even though he knew he would win the bank. It is a world in which Rafael takes refuge and to which he opens himself to give refuge. The same refuge that was denied to him. It is a world that tries to replace the world of departure, of which, after so many years, he only remembers the smells. However, the bank always wins, this time with a bitter sweet ending. Eviction means the end of the library, but a home for Rafael. Maybe 'Time' will bring new energy, bring a better ending.
Poster of the Biblioteca Popolare "Mondo Piccolo" outside the occupation of Viale delle Province.