My Grandfather Was a Sea Captain

My grandfather was a sea captain.

He navigated his life around the globe many times, in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

When he retired, he chose Africa as his safe harbour.

I have memories of him sending my mother – his daughter – baskets and baskets of never-seen-before fruits, together with exotic postcards that told stories of the little monkey that lived with him, and of ferocious crocodiles swimming not far from the beach near his house.

Somalia, 1961

He told me once that Somali women are the most elegant of the world, and that they wear their drapes around the body crossed in front of their chest and tied at the back of the neck.

I have always worn since my scarf in this fashion when I am at the seaside. It reminds me of him.

This year, however, I must admit my belly won’t allow me to do so.

Nevertheless, I touch my sailor hat to you, nonno, on the anniversary of your death, as a salute to your free spirit.


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