Another Femicide

One of my former colleagues was stabbed to death, allegedly by her husband. After hearing about this from a former student of ours, I went online to find the story. There was very little in English press even though this had happened a couple of days earlier in England. The university announced her death and their sadness at the news but gave no details. The Italian press was full of stories about the killing, with headlines such as ‘Italian Professor murdered in Britain.’ One of the Italian papers reported this as a ‘jealous rage’ due to her ‘career success.’ Another focused on her husband as being ‘Turkish-Syrian and holding a British passport.’ Another still on how her family was helping her to return to Italy without him. These ways of explaining the tragedy and reducing it to a soap opera narrative, laced with xenophobia, only added more anger to my bag of emotions – shock being on top.

I stumbled upon the Italian version of Vanity Fair. They started their report with a simple fragment sentence – ‘Another femicide.’ My former colleague and friend is already a statistic.

Antonella and I worked together for four years. We had been hired within a year of each other and bonded as the only PhD’s and the only Italians in the English department (though our colleagues saw me as only American). She was from northern Italy and so fluent in English, we only spoke Italian to one another on a few occasions. My strongest memories of her involve her laughing – she had a wild and loud laugh. In our serious moments, we had some great conversations about literary criticism, language and her love for Pasolini. She authored a book on the controversial poet and film director, and to this very day, any mention of Pasolini makes me think of her.

As I was looking online trying to grab what I could of Antonella’s life and her untimely death, I kept on seeing the same photo – a university mug shot in black and white. I typed her name into Google Images, and one of the first pictures that came up was of her and me at a poetry reading. It’s a blurred image but seems appropriate as she has become blurry in my life. Academic politics can be vicious, and it appeared to come between us. I have to say ‘appeared’ as this was down to the machinations of others. I left the university, shaking off the whole mess, and lost touch with colleagues good and bad. One of my regrets was not re-establishing the friendship she and I once held.

As Antonella is the victim of yet ‘another femicide,’ in my mind memories of her life will forever be entwined with the manner of her death. I am angry, resentful at the ways of the world. I return to Pasolini and find one of his most famous poems translated into English. Rest in peace, Antonella.

The Day of My Death

In a city, Trieste or Undine
along an avenue bordered by linden trees
in spring when the leaves
change colour

I will fall dead
under a burning noonday sun
my eyes closing upon
the sky and its splendour.

Beneath the mild green of the lindens
I will sink into the
black of my death
parting from the sun and the leaves.
Beautiful young boys
will run in the light
I will now have lost
streaming from their schools
curls on their brows.

I will still be young,
in a bright shirt,
my hair tender in the rain
falling on the bitter dust.
I will still be warm
and a child running on the
soft asphalt of the avenue
will come and rest his hand
on my crystal loins.

Pier Paolo Pasolini
Translated by Steve Light

2 Comments

  1. Politics related slaughter! It has got to stop!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sue Hutton says:

      Thank you. The laugh. The enthusiasm for life. We loved her.

      Liked by 1 person

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