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New Beginnings

The phrase, new beginnings, is one of hope. Easter was a few months ago and now we’ve just experienced the change of seasons—winter in the Southern Hemisphere and summer in the top half. There is symbolism in change; it can be about new beginnings, expectations, other ...

How fortunate that in many cultures, we have the opportunity to jumpstart a new direction, if we so choose. It can be exciting and looked upon as an adventure or be one of trepidation and nervous anticipation.

I read an article recently about a new principal who has transformed a (previously) struggling public school in Western Sydney.* Manisha Gazula was determined that new beginnings were in store for the teachers and the pupils of that school (one in five students from refugee background and 90% with English as a second language). Gazula implemented an approach that abandoned (old) ‘fashionable teaching practices’; this attitude took commitment and determination, and these new beginnings are now reaping the rewards.

That’s the thing with new beginnings … there are benefits not just for the one person involved—who is the catalyst—but the ripple effects can be far-reaching. 

I’ve used a photo of my gorgeous and mischievous granddaughter, who loves bouncing around on a trampoline, and kept just out of my reach every time I tried to catch her. My new beginnings as a grandmother have brought me much joy … and I have no doubt that my direct descendant is having a whale of a time too!

My Italian parents also went through many new beginnings. First, post-World War 2 Italy was a country that had suffered many bombings, especially in Torino, where my mother grew up. With my father’s return after being a Prisoner of War (POW) in Southern Africa, he would have found a very different environment. But they soldiered on through new beginnings as everyone had to, at that time.

Then, in 1955, after they got married, they took a huge step by deciding to relocate from Italy to Africa. It would have been so difficult for them to put all that was familiar behind them and travel to another continent (their new beginnings). Of course, my husband and I and our young girls (at the time), did the same in 2000 but we had far more of an idea of what we were coming to … although it did not make the experience any the easier.

We went through that same sense of displacement, anxiety, excitement, etc., but the situation in 1955 (almost seventy years ago) was very different for migrants. The attraction of new beginnings was strong though, and thankfully, we have all come out so much better, on the other side … there were times though that doubts plagued us, and a lot of second guessing took place. We are human, after all, and it is in our nature. #newbeginnings #italy #rhodesia

Below is an extract from Goodbye to Italia. It’s towards the end of the book; my parents are engaged with the wedding date only a couple of months away. I cannot imagine the raft of emotions my mother would have been feeling as this scenario played out!

Over the meal, Iucci notices that Eugenio is preoccupied. But she knows that when he is ready, he will divulge what is on his mind. As they sip at their glasses of red wine, their plates of steaming pasta arrive. The scent of hot, sundried tomato sauce, freshly chopped parsley, and Gran Padano parmesan shavings fills the air with a rich and flavoursome aroma. ‘Che delizioso odore. [What a delicious smell]!’ Iucci exclaims. Setting down her glass, she picks up her fork.

She is savouring the first mouthful of food, when Eugenio leans forward with an air of intent. Taking one of her hands in his, he takes a breath and says, ‘Senti, Iucci, I think we have to seriously think about this return to Africa—not just for a honeymoon but as the start of a new life there.’

Iucci does not respond straight away. She swallows another mouthful of food and the implication of what he has said sinks in. ‘So, you mean, we don’t come back?!’ 

Shaking his head slowly and looking at her with an intensity that makes her feel uneasy, Eugenio goes on to explain. ‘At least not until we have set ourselves up with a business and found a place to live … in Africa.’

Iucci’s appetite disappears. Taking her hand out of Eugenio’s, she sits back and picks up her wineglass. She holds it with both hands and looks down into the globe of ruby red wine. Swirling it around, the dark liquid sways hypnotically in the flickering candlelight.

Taking a deep breath, she looks up at Eugenio. He has yet to take a mouthful of the food that waits patiently in front of him.

‘I have given this a lot of thought, Iucci. Please don’t think that I haven’t.’ She listens carefully as Eugenio shares his concerns with her. She realises that he is very serious. This is not a spontaneous decision or a whim, which, on occasion, he has been prone to follow.

‘Well, what do you think? This is our life together and, obviously, you have a say in this too.’

‘I don’t know what to think.’

Eugenio nods his head at her sharp retort. Picking up his fork, he deftly coils some pasta strands and places the forkful in his mouth. There is silence for a few minutes and then he asks, ‘Aren’t you going to eat any more?’

Shaking her head, Iucci pushes the plate away. ‘I’ve had enough.’

As they depart the restaurant a bit later, Iucci’s mind is in a whirl. Say goodbye to Italia forever?! Leave her mamma and nonna and go and live somewhere she has never been before … to a place as wild as Africa!


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