An old auntie and her secret connection with Australia

Finally, after one year and a half of living my dream in Australia, I decided it was time to go back home to see my family and friends, and to enjoy the Italian summer in my hometown Stigliano, Basilicata!

by
Mariantonietta Rasulo
on
March 19, 2018
Category:
Profiles
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I bought the ticket two months in advance to spend six weeks in my homeland.

On the 4th of July, my Aussie friend dropped me off at the airport snatching me a promise: “make sure you come back, your adventure has not yet ended!”. I gave her a hug and waved at her while I was walking through the main doors of departures.

I left Melbourne in winter with its dark grey skies and was welcomed by the amazing hot sun in Rome, with 42 degrees... I was sweating carrying my two suitcases but happy walk on my home grounds.

As I imagined on my flight, my parents were at the airport waiting for me. I saw them immediately as I walked out of the customs gate. They welcomed me with the same happiness and joy as I am told they did when I was born. At home the whole family clan had gathered waiting for me: my nonna, nonno, cousins, zii and zie. It was a big reunion!

There she is, “l'Australiana”. This was the way Zia Caterina, an 82-year-old strong woman, started referring to me after I left for “la terra dei canguri”. “We missed you so much... Have you met a handsome young Australian man?” she asked me when I met her at my parents’ home. I looked at her with my eyes blurred by the jetlag and smiled. She took me aside as if she did not want to be heard by the others. “Let's have a chat. I want to know everything about your experiences. I heard that in Melbourne you can have four seasons in one day”.

“Yes Zia, it is true” I told her adding that I have spent almost one and a half year traveling all around Australia. I lived in the Margaret River region for five months, a beautiful place, full of vineyards. I then moved to Mullumbimby, the most popular hippie little town in Australia, where I experienced what a hippie life is all about. I also travelled all around the east coast from Byron Bay through to the Gold Coast heading up to Brisbane. Suddenly, in the end, I fell in love with the best city in the world, Melbourne.

I spoke to Zia for almost half an hour, answering her questions and reminiscing all the beautiful experiences of the past year when I saw her putting her hands in her pocket and pulling out something. It was an old photo of a young man. I didn't know what to say. I looked at her in puzzlement and she whispered with a sight: “He is Julian from Melbourne and he is the love of my life. I met him when I was 18 and I would have spent all of my life with him, but I couldn't, my parents didn't let me go to Australia.”

I was always curious as to why she was so interested about Australia and was dumbfounded in hearing her secret. She continued: “He sent me so many letters but I was never able to see him again. Now my heart can rest in peace because I know that all the stories he wrote to me are true and you have experienced them”.

I had a great time in Italy but I looked forward to returning to Australia and when I got back I felt like coming home. Whenever I meet an old Italian man, I wonder if he is the one who, as a young migrant, captured the heart of Zia Caterina. The day I left, she hugged me and murmured in my ear: “Follow your dreams!”