Thursday, November 15, 2012

Floods, murder and insults

We leave to go back to Italy the week after Thanksgiving, a big holiday here.  Umbertide has suffered high water from all of the floods, but it has not had much damage.

It looks scary, but the water has started to recede and the rains have stopped.

Umbertide has had other horrible things to deal with lately.  A few weeks ago our little town suffered a horrible tragedy.

There was a Moroccan family that lived in Citta di Castello, a nearby town.  The family consisted of a mother, a father, a 12 year old daughter, Jiahane, and an 8 year old son Ahmed.  The father lost his job and had no way to pay the bills.  The mother went to work, but the husband insisted she wear the veil, which she did not want to do at work.  The husband began to drink and be abusive with the wife.  She got a restraining order against him and she moved to Umbertide with the two children about a month ago.  She worked as a waitress at a local restaurant.

When she was at work, she left the children alone telling them not to open the door to anyone, not even their father.  The children agreed.  They locked the door and the mother left for work.  While at work she received a call from her husband who was inchoherent saying he was going to kill himself.  She immediately called the police and they went to their former home in Citta di Castello.  When they got to the apartment, it was empty. They then went to the apartment in Umbertide and found the children in the bathtub. They had been killed by their father.  He tried to kill himself, but was unsuccessful.  On the wall outside of the apartment, he wrote in Arabic, I love you, in the children's blood.  The wife is inconsolable.  The husband is in the hospital, where he has confessed and will be sent to prison.  The children were buried with a traditional Islamic funeral last week.

Today, I was in Oakland doing some work with a client.  I park at the same place every time I visit Kaiser.  It is more expensive but it is easy to get to and I always feel safe there.  I drive a purple MiniCooper.  On the back fender I have a bumper sticker from my church that says, "Many Paths to God."  Most of the other cars in the parking lot don't have religious sticker and are much bigger and more expensive than my little car.  Perhaps it is because of this that that parking lot attendant has taken special notice of me. He is a young man probably in his early twenties.  We talk about the Raiders, our local football team.  He is a big fan, I pretend to be for his sake. Last year at Thanksgiving, I asked hime what he was going to do for the holiday, and he said that he was going to work.  His mother had died that year and he didn't want to think about the holiday.  He calls me Sunshine and he often gets my ticket for me so I don't have to get out of the car. He tells me that I remind him of his mother, even though I am white and he is black.

Today, when I went to the parking lot, he seemed very disturbed.  His face was much darker than usual and I thought perhaps he had been in a fight.  I asked him what was wrong and he said nothing, but I could tell he was barely holding it together.  I said, what happened? Were you in a fight?  And he said no and started to cry. He told me that one of the people there had called him a "nigger".  He was beside himself, saying, "Why did he have to go and to that to me?  Why would he do that?"  He seemed inconsolable.  Then he said, "I'm Puerto Rican, but that doesn't even matter. This isn't even my real job.  I'm going to college to be someone.  Both my parents are dead and so I try to be so nice to everyone.  Why would he call me that?" and he continued to cry.

A young black man came by and saw the two of us and said, "What's up Bro?" and the young man said, "Someone just called me a Nigger" and the African American man said, "Not the first time right? Take a break.  I'll take over." But the young man was still crying.  I had my arm around him trying to console him.  There were some Mexican custodial workers that came by.  They looked at me with suspicion and then asked what had happened.  He told them that someone had just called him a Nigger.  They looked at me with a level of fear and defiance.  They then said, "These guys have called us a lot worse than that. Let it go man." The young black man was now trying to get the cars parked and taking over the direction of the parking lot.  Then the Mexicans looked at the young man and said,' Which car was it? We'll key it for you." and my young man laughed and the moment was over.  The white woman tried to nurture him, to make him feel better, the black man took charge and the Mexicans wanted revenge.  It is our world in a microcosm.

Why do we have the suffering of the innocents? A theological concept for the day.

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