Poverty In Sicily – Part 2

Interview with Nonna Nedda, continued on from Part 1.

“A wife who wants to keep her husband happy and contented must stay at home, keep everything neat and clean, cook his meals, wash and mend his clothes, never deny him his rights, and never so much as look at man. He’s the master of the house, and her master too. Everything belongs to him except the dowry linen. A husband has to be firm with his wife, he has to keep her on a tight rein; if he didn’t, she might end up badly. We women know what treatment to expect when we marry. How do husbands treat their wives in other countries? How do they treat their wives in America? How do they treat them in Russia? Russians – they’re the ones with dark red faces, aren’t they? I’ve heard, too, about some people called the French…

My mother died when I was a baby at the breast. My sisters tools me how she died. One day, her head was very bad – she’d been baking, and the heat had made it bad – so she put a cushion on a wooden settle, and lay down. My father came in a bit merry. ‘Stir yourself, Rosalia,’ he said, ‘I want my bed made up.’ ‘My head’s so bad I can’t move – ask one of the girls to make it up for you,’ said Mother. So Father told my sister Rosaria to fetch the mattress. ‘I won’t!’ she said, ‘you’ve drunk up all our money!’ She was cross because she was hungry and he hadn’t brought us back anything to eat. (It didn’t happen often though, he was a good father to us.)

Well, Father turned to Mother. ‘You’ll have to make up my bed as Rosaria won’t,’ he said. ‘I can’t,’ said Mother, ‘I can’t raise my head.’ Then Father lost his temper; he didn’t mean to hit her hats, but he was a blacksmith and didn’t know his own strength – he gave her such a clout on her poor head that her teeth became wedged together. He rushed and fetched my godfather who was a barber and doctored people and he tried to force her mouth open with a spoon, but it was too late – she was dead.”

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alex Jones on August 27, 2014 at 18:15

    It seems so surreal to be believable.


  2. Can’t ‘like’ this. God, how horrible.


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