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Are we really free or are we prisoners of ourselves? Reading the reflections of Omar Mumba, the protagonist of this story, we live recluse in our mental restrictions and we stay this way for much of our existence, learning to move in the narrow spaces of those same bars.

In every type of system, there proliferate contradictions that become traditions to be respected. The society in which we live has applied the norm that says we can be happy, even if the others are not: all you have to do is not to be among those others.

It is a simple equation, basically, yet Omar does not seem to learn. It keeps a singular pastime, if we can call it so: keeping inside a big envelope, all the letters coming from those structures and associations present in forgotten places, where every need is absolute. He reads them continuously, even when he is in the hotel where he works and for this reason, he is mocked by colleagues and superiors. The attitude towards the neighbour in difficulty makes him intransigent, but above all leaves him alone. His days pass between listening to U2 music and household chores, work and a recurrent accusation: who gets his boss’ flat tyre.


It’s a delicate tale, a rear-wheel drive, which means that it’s counterbalanced by a heavy project on its back. 

The main character is a mean, I needed a character in which I could pour hidden resentments, fears and also neighbor’s curiosities. 

Omar doesn’t tell a story of integration because he’s already an Italian citizen. Born in Rome from an Italian mother and a Kenyan father, his is an incident of deep introversion.

Omar learnt from his parents, both doctors, not to conceive a job just as a living source, so he divides the salary as a hotel operator in small donations to the onlus associations that operate in poor countries. In his mailbox there arrive letters of structures that there are in those lands, where every need is absolute and he can’t do anything but attend depressed to the contradictions of the society in which he was born, he grew up and lives. 

The constant activity for those in difficulties makes him inflexible on others’ superficiality and his ability to look far gets him to lose contact with things close to him, isolating him much more. 

The cages are brain-made and concern limits of each one of us. They influence us as dead weights, they don’t let us fully live our lives. 

What is best about Omar, his solidarity to the others, is also his flaw, the absence of lightness.

Mumba also deals with the concept of faith. It’s a concept he can’t grasp, suspended between his own materialistic confusion and a vague benevolence that guides him. It’s the predicament on the sense of existence, that contrast on the promise of a better life in another realm and the immediate answers needed on Earth.  


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© Enrico Mattioli 2018