Poverty In Sicily – Part 4

Interview with Nonna Nedda continued.

“I’ve had many sorrows in my life – five little ones, the Lord took from me. One of them was three when he died; I was still giving him the breast. My married son who lives here – I suckled him till he was past four – as long as I had milk, I thought it was right to feed him, and I didn’t want to wean him. But I was telling you about my three year old. One day, he was playing horses with another little one who had the whooping cough; he put the reins in his mouth and he caught the whooping cough too. He was such a pretty little fellow, so delicately made he was, and with a head of golden curls – he took after my husband’s side of the family, his sister was fair – my grandson Fiffidd has a look of him. Everyone who saw him said how lovely he was – his name was Carmeluzzu.

Well, he cough-cough-coughed, poor little chap – he wasn’t strong and I was frightened he might die. So I went to the chemist, and said: ‘My little boy of three’s got whooping cough – I want some syrup for him to bring up the phlegm.’ He made up a mixture and told me to give him a spoonful three times a day. I took Carmeluzzu into my arms. ‘Here’s something to take away that may cough, darling,’ I said, but he wouldn’t touch it. Then I pretended to drink it. ‘See, Mama’s drinking it – Baby have it,’ I said, and at lay I coaxed him into swallowing a spoonful. But not long after, he began to scream and cry and rub his poor little tummy. ‘What is out, darling?’ I said – I couldn’t think what was the matter with him. ‘Go  ‘way, go ‘way, bloody old pain!’ he sobbed – it hurt him so much he couldn’t help saying a bad word. ‘Great Big Four burning me up inside – go’way, go ‘way!’ he screamed. I thought maybe he was making a fuss add children do if they have to take medicine, but all day long, he never stopped twisting about and crying.

My little girl of five drank some of the syrup – it tasted sweet and little ones love anything sweet. She, too, began to cry and say her tummy was hurting her. By the evening Carmeluzzu was worn out. Every time he cried in the night, I have him the breast to try and soothe him. The next day, he was worse – he turned his little head away and wouldn’t stuck any more. When it was night, and I took him to bed with me, he closed his eyes, and I was so tired, I soon fell asleep. Early in the morning, the young signorina who paid me to walk with her to the Convent where she took lessons in sewing and cooking, knocked at the door. ‘Are you ready, Donna Nedda?’ she asked. ‘I can’t leave my little bit, Signorina,’ I said. ‘He’s dreadfully ill, I’m afraid he’s dying.’ She came in, crossed to the bed, looked at him and busy out crying. I went a short way with her, then I went back and took Carmeluzzu in my arms. I couldn’t make him take the nipple, so I put a drop of the syrup into a glass of water, poured out a spoonful, tilted back his head, and tried to get him to swallow it so that it would freshen his poor little mouth. But he couldn’t swallow it – he was dead. His little busy was still warm, but he was dead.”

2 responses to this post.

  1. Oh my gosh! Heart wrenching 😥


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