CASTIGLIONE DELLA PESCAIA – Days ago I met Patricia Rabiti with whom I exchanged a few words. She is the daughter of Galardino.
I remember it like it was yesterday: we were around the table in the professor’s room. The room that opened onto the street parallel to the corso, the continuation of the via Remota, from which one could see the rise that leads to Prato. All together on these late summer afternoons, after the “fires” of August.
Some students from high school, classical, scientific, accounting, some of the middle ones. Totally with the thin, gaunt professor. They were not real repetitions, but integrated collective lessons. We were in that room with the shutters half closed as he read essays and devoured them like anyone who hungers to know how he would do it. Galardino was an excellent teacher and a wonderful person. I don’t know how else to define it.
He read aloud so that we could understand the particularity and form of each of the compositions and find out more about each of those present. It was a kind of free school. The dates and times when the professor was available were listed; then whoever wanted to went.
After reading a theme or correcting a version, he expressed a judgment and shared it, made us reflect on any shortcomings or our abilities. All with a disarming simplicity. Provision of advice and proposals.
On one of those afternoons, when he finished reading my essay, he said: “the average is 4 yes 4; and I’m generous”. I thought what’s the point 4. It’s a single theme whose title was “Talking about relationships with your parents”
It even seemed to me that those present during the reading had somehow appreciated the poem. Indeed, it seemed to me that he had also judged him good. Then, after a moment’s hesitation, typical of the professor weighing the words before expressing himself, he continued “I have to give you two marks, that’s the reason for the average. The first vote is about the relevance between what you wrote and the title of the theme, and on this I have to give you zero, there is almost nothing in your composition that even slightly answers the question that the title expresses . The second grade, which is an 8, is about the form and content of a theme that I have not assigned to you, but that you have assigned yourself, and which concerns your relationships with people. You even tried to make me believe that you came to your conclusions in a way consistent with the title. You have been good, but you have failed to confuse the reasoning”.
“Remember guys that relevance to themes and context is part of knowing how to live”, “with dignity” he added after a short pause. I have kept that judgment in me. The professor was like that. Also for the Greek (they tell me because I participated in the scientific one) and for the Latin correction, the versions made us reflect.
During the wonderful life lessons hanging on his lips, we were definitely also trembling for the moment we wanted to say goodbye to him to go and have fun. We were guys who wanted to enjoy the last penny of summer!
We waited for the moment. The signal was announced by the professor’s glance beyond the half-closed shutter in search of a friendly figure, Breschi.
Breschien he affectionately called “Atticus” Cicero’s friend, was Galardino’s friend. He invariably turned up after about a few hours from the start of our afternoon classes with scrupulous punctuality, just before the chiesina clock struck six.
“Affrico” was the childhood friend of whom Galardino Rabiti he would leave the role of a professor to immerse himself in the reality of the village and discuss simple or complex things with his trusted friend with the same ability to understand. Never pedantic, but always sharp.
As soon as the friend arrived, we gathered our notebooks and disappeared.
At other times we happened to hear him correcting the versions of Greek assigned to students of the classics. He enchanted us with his explanations, which apparently also referred to Latin or Italian, although they referred to Greek.
He was engaging, learned, very simple, as only people of great culture can be.
A hug Professor, I promise this time I will be more careful and I will not go off topic.
I understood the lesson: relevance and consistency, always.