I take my chair by the window and peel the onions.
I take off the tea-colored skin and touch the smooth surface with both of my hands.
And cherish this piece of onion.
I thank God that another mundane day is about to pass.
“Maria Teresa, what are you going to do with all those peeled onions?”
I hear Anna, my older sister, talking in a rather surprised but tender voice.
“Anna, don’t you remember? She once started peeling the fava beans but could not stop.
For three days and three nights, we had fava bean soup, remember, at Grizzana’s house?”
The youngest sister, Dina, who starts giggling, recollects her memory.
“I do remember that time, yes. That did happen.”
The two sisters randomly start digging into their closets, what is called ‘reminiscence,’ and clothes what is called ‘memories.’
The loose-fit cardigan, oversized coat, and their favorite sweater has come apart at the seam.
The crumpled jacket is our brother’s.
Dina wears it.
“Why does our brother like something like this? There’s nothing special about it.”
Anna replies, giggling.
“Why? Because there’s nothing special about it.”
I smile and nod.
This is the reason why our brother with a hunched back slowly brings the soup to his mouth without ever complaining about the sautéed onion soup he’s had time and time again.
The sunset like a cold peach sherbet surrounds our apartment on Fondazza street.
Anna sits by the stove with her knitting needles, and Dina turns the radio dial to Unione Radiofonica.
I hear Maria Callas singing “O Mio Babbino Caro” while the butter is caramelized for onion soup.
Do you know where Giorgio is?
What is he up to?
In the studio, as always, Anna replies without stopping to knit. I think he is busy chit-chatting with his best buddies.
His best buddies are the still-life objects whom Giorgio has been depicting on his canvases for most of his life. The slim bottle, round bowl, long-neck and short vase, jar, cup, bowl, and water jugs. They are on the table, on the shelf, and on the chair, sometimes crouched down, lingering, being idle, or being self conscious.
Our brother silently sits with his objects, talking eye to eye with them from morning till night. Of course, not in a verbal kind of way. The numerous conversations they have exist internally, only to be heard through the ears of the heart. What is depicted on his canvases all looked alike, but with graceful presence. Their uniqueness is strong enough that they appear even with our eyes shut in the back of our minds.
“He may be depicting the apostles,” Anna murmurs, continuing with her knitting. Giorgio must see something divine in the vase, cups, and water jugs that he depicts.
“They may be angels,” whispers Dina, leaning in on the radio. “That color, grace, and appearance must assume the role of angels.”
As I look inside the cooking pan that is starting to boil, I think to myself, no, they must be us sisters.
I go to shut the louver door of the window in the atelier as I feel the night air piercing into the room. The dark glass window reflects my brother’s shadow facing the easel.
I hear the violin performance on the radio.
I gently open the window, and, as I breathe out, my breath appears like a misty cloud.
Quietly, the snow falls gracefully on the houses along the streets and on the vermilion roofs. Ceaselessly silent and forever purifying.