When little things suddenly become big.

Mariagrazia Casanova, a 49 year old supermarket clerk from Brescia, complained that she had a sore throat and difficulties breathing. Four days later, Mariagrazia died. Her four kids will never see her again.

Every day, poorly paid people we take for granted– clerks, butchers, bakers, fishmongers, delivery people– are getting sick and/or dying just to provide us with services necessary for our own survival. So when my daughter (who’s in Milano) posted about her trip to the grocery store, I asked permission to repost it here. Chiara’s post was written in Italian and her words are perfumed with untranslatable nuances. It’s impossible for me to render her justice in English but I’ve tried. (The original in Italian is found below).

Thank you, Chiara.

Asparaga Claws

Asparagus Claws by Chiara Pilar

Quarantine, 5th week.

Yesterday I left home for the first time, after ten days, to go to the supermarket. To feel your joints move as you go down the stairs, to see the saturated colors on the street, to feel the fresh air on your face … what a strange sensation. But alas, the goal was near.

There was a line in front of the supermarket and I heard people complaining about it, they didn’t want to waste so much time … who knows what they could possibly have to do, I asked myself. In what place could haste go? The concept of time – and not only – has been disrupted by this situation. At times, I don’t even remember what day it is and I’m almost thankful for the existence of that line because it makes me gain more moments of fresh air on my face.

Once I entered the supermarket I hurried to get my goodies and, when I arrived at the checkout, I thank the cashier and his colleagues for being there and giving us the opportunity to buy food. He remains stunned for a moment, looking at me with curiosity.

I tell him that I imagined that it’s not easy to work in such a context and that I appreciated what all of them were doing. Half his face was covered, but above that piece of fabric there were shiny and moved eyes. The mask does not hide emotions. He told me it is hard, that the mask he has is not enough to protect himself and that I was the first to address him with certain words.

Now, I don’t know about you but I feel lucky to have the opportunity to protect myself at home without having to be like a suicide bomber going out to work in contact with the public with minimal and deficient protective measures. The situation is heavy and exhausting for everyone, you know, but if it ever happens, between a zucchini and a kiwi – or whatever situation it is – it would be nice to address a little word of solidarity and encouragement to those who have no choice and provide us with a huge service. Let’s smooth the claws of the asparagus, beautiful children.


Quarantena, 5° settimana.

Ieri sono uscita per la prima volta di casa, dopo dieci giorni, per recarmi al supermercato. Sentire le gambe articolarsi per scendere le scale, vedere i colori saturi per strada, sentire l’aria fresca in faccia…che strana sensazione. Ma ahimè, la meta era vicina.

 C’era la fila davanti al supermercato e sentivo delle persone lamentarsene, non volevano perderci troppo tempo…chissà cosa avranno mai da fare, mi son chiesta. In che luogo andrà mai, la fretta, di questi tempi? La concezione del tempo – e non solo – è stata scombussolata da questa situazione. Io, a momenti, non ricordo neanche più in che giorno siamo e quasi ringraziavo l’esistenza di quella coda, perché mi faceva guadagnare istanti di aria fresca sul viso.

 Una volta entrata nel supermercato mi affretto a prendere le mie leccornie e, arrivata in cassa, ringrazio il cassiere ed i suoi colleghi per essere lì e darci la possibilità di acquistare il cibo. Lui rimane per un attimo basito, guardandomi con curiosità. Gli dico che immaginavo che non fosse facile lavorare in un contesto del genere e che apprezzavo quello che tutti loro stavano facendo. Mezzo volto era coperto, ma sopra quel pezzetto di tessuto c’erano degli occhi lucidi e commossi. La mascherina non nasconde le emozioni. Mi ha detto che è dura, che la mascherina che ha non è sufficiente per proteggersi e che ero la prima a rivolgergli certe parole.

 Ora, non so voi ma io mi sento fortunata ad avere la possibilità di proteggermi a casa senza dover fare la kamikaze per andare a lavorare a contatto col pubblico con misure protettive minime e carenti. La situazione è pesante ed estenuante per tutti, si sa, ma se mai vi capitasse, tra una zucchina e un kiwi – o qualsiasi altra situazione che sia – sarebbe carino rivolgere una parolina di solidarietà ed incoraggiamento per chi non ha scelta e ci fornisce un enorme servizio. Smussiamo gli artigli degli asparagi, fanciulli belli.

Related: Mariagrazia’s story, Death of Store Clerk in Italy Highlights Contagion’s New Front Line

the scarf b

About Art for Housewives

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7 Responses to When little things suddenly become big.

  1. Cristina Margarita says:

    I could not say it better than Sarita and Mary Ann, you are wonderful. Thanks for your daily post, they make my day.

  2. Cristiana, I read that Mexico is beginning to report more and more cases…I hope you are keeping safe!

    • Cristina Margarita says:

      We, my husband and I, are taking extreme precaution. I think the worst is approaching soon. Thanks for your good wishes. Take care.

  3. She has a beautiful soul…like her mother!


  4. Madeleine Mes (Amsterdam) says:

    I’ve been reading your posts on and off for years. Came because of the art, keep returning because of the heart. I wish you all the strenght you need in these times. Thank you from my heart.

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