photo: Daniela Spera
“What is happiness, mother?” Asked the daughter. The mother, as usual, did not answer and continued setting the dinner table. With a damp cloth he spread a product smelling of lavender on the glass that covered the wooden table in the room. He ironed three of the four towels that made up the placemat. He placed the white plates, the cutlery that he had recently polished with alcohol on the towels, and carefully adjusted the navy blue cloth napkin. He took the bag and towards the elevator he said to his daughter: “Come on!” The daughter asked where they were going. She did not answer.
Arriving at the florist, the daughter was enchanted with the white roses and the mother let her choose the ones she liked. At the supermarket, they chose the most striking green leaves, the most ripe cheese, and the best vintage wine. At the checkout the daughter remembered, with a start, that she had forgotten about the watermelon. Encouraged by the mother, the daughter ran to get the sweetest. Back home, the two lovingly prepared dinner. They placed the roses in the center, the leaf salad in a glass container, the cheeses arranged on the cutting board. They had two glasses and a glass of watermelon juice.
The doorbell rang twice, the granddaughter opened the door, the grandfather hugged the little girl and, as a surprise, handed her a watermelon. The granddaughter spontaneously celebrated and said that she would have to keep it, as she had already bought a watermelon for dinner. The mother, now a daughter, received her father with a small smile on his face and controlled happiness. The dining room lamp was weak and sometimes made unusual shadows, the granddaughter was amused and watched everything while drinking the juice with her red straw. The grandfather and the daughter toasted the best harvest.
It was another Sunday when the little girl drank her watermelon juice with joy and enthusiasm, drinking it every time as if it were the first. Some Sundays like this have passed, with the best harvest and the sweetest watermelon. Then the doorbell rang, only once. It wasn’t the grandfather, it was the news that he would never be at the dinner table again. That day there was neither dinner nor watermelon juice. The granddaughter still didn’t know what happiness was, but she was already experiencing sadness. That night there was only pineapple juice and she didn’t complain.