My Sister and I

To be honest, when I checked my e-mail account, I first thought it was a joke or spam.
What can a 33-years-old Italian in London write about, that Indian youth will find meaningful or interesting? “Nothing!” was my first instinctive reaction. Yet, I couldn’t help thinking there are always matters in life that are common to all of humanity, regardless of passport.

There’s a good chance that what you know about today’s Italy amounts to the same I know about today’s India, so let me give you my personal view: it’s going to be short and painless.
This year Italy celebrates its 150th anniversary as a united nation. My country has, like many others, sunk into a deep crisis in the recent years: not only economy, but politics, society and above all civil conscience as well. Not a single aspect of life has been left out of the mud my country is sinking into. It’s a painful and cruel show: not a day goes by without the media pointing out further grief, adding it to the overall status of the misery.

As for myself, I come from a quite standard Italian family: working parents, one sister and a load of noisy relatives.  My sister and I grew up with what I now reckon as a silly idea: the northern you go in Europe, the better the living, social and working conditions are. We had Switzerland at our doorstep just to prove our theory right! Some years ago, I got to the point where I struggled to make ends meet, where dealing with the persistent underemployment and the everyday struggle against the cheaters became too much for me to bear. So when I had the chance, why not move abroad? And why not move north, to the UK?  I moved to London and live two parallel lives: I work in London, but friends and family are in Italy. Sometimes I long to go back so much it hurts. My sister decided not to move and she has to fight with bureaucracy and chauvinism every day. Sometimes she longs to escape so much it aches.

Life goes on and now, some years down the line, I still can’t find the answer to a question. Who is braver? The one that stays or the one that goes? Who is wiser? The one that migrated and now spends her days idealizing a country that pushed her out? Or the one that stayed and now struggles and longs for a better future, she won’t probably be able to grant her children? I am not sure there is a right answer to it. However, I believe that once your mind is made up, you have to live with your choices and face the consequences. My sister does it and I try my best as well, even though I don’t mind some “back to an ideal and perfect Italy” daydreaming sometimes.

Virginia Risso

She’s like a 30-something-year-old Italian, currently living in London. She works in IT, and suffers from a mild form of geekyness. She likes reading, writing, taking pictures and baking. She asks a lot of questions, but randomly gets answers too.

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