Monday, July 4, 2016

Sounds of Silence

It was getting on towards midnight when I closed my eyes just for a moment as the game went into penalty kicks, knowing that when we made the winning goal the boys in the bar would wake up the entire neighborhood with their air horns, shouts of joy, and their careening through the streets with flags flying proudly from their antennas.  Sadly, I woke up to silence two hours later only to learn that Germany had beaten Italy in the UEFA cup quarter final game.  Overtime, PKs, a loss.  Alas, Italy has a dismal record when it comes to important games decided by PKs.  The TV was still on with commentators dissecting the game, saying how our boys had played nobly, how they went further than anyone thought they would, how they had made us proud.
And boys they are.  With the exception of Buffon, who at almost 40 could be the father of many of these young men, this was a very young team.  In the aftermath of the game, during an interview one of the players broke down in tears, because of the loss of course, but also because he was convinced that these boys would not be remembered because they didn't win, that they would be a forgotten footnote in the history of this sport.  I think most of us would disagree, that these boys will hold a place in the hearts of Italy for many years to come.

The hearts of Italy are hurting for more than just the loss of this game.  This was the day when she lost nine of her citizens, nine hard-working, loving men and women who were brutally killed because they were unable to cite quotations from the Koran.  Parents of young children, a husband and wife, a young woman pregnant with her first child.....all victims of irrational hatred.  People from all over Italy, most involved in the textile industry, in Bangladesh either on business trips or living there permanently, people who had gathered in a restaurant for a celebratory dinner, anxiously awaiting their return home.  The sadness here, the anger, the sense of loss are palpable.
 The national soccer team will be returning from France in defeat.  Nine Italian citizens will be returning from Bangladesh in coffins.  We are sad at the outcome of the game.  We are devastated at the senseless loss of life. There are still flags flying, but they are at half mast. And so, there is silence here today.

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