Sometimes when I can’t think of anything to write, I’ll rely on the Random Word Generator for inspiration. That made me wonder if there was a Random Image Generator. Yay! There is! So today I decided to get a random image and then write about it. What follows is the story I came up with about this picture:
To the casual observer, Gianni may have looked exhausted. This would have been a reasonable assumption, too, because he had to go to the produce wholesaler every morning at 4 a.m. in order to get the best fruit and vegetables for his stall. And for Gianni, nothing but the best would do.
That “nothing but the best” concept was rather new to him. A year ago he was running the streets with no real purpose or goal. The only consistent routine in his life was stopping by to visit his grandfather at this very stall, just as he had done every day since he was old enough to walk.
His grandfather was larger than life. He never took a day off, and yet he was always smiling. Oh, and how he loved his grandson! When he spied a younger Gianni running across the piazza, he would throw his arms wide and embrace him roughly, as if he hadn’t seen him in years.
Gianni would help himself to an apple or an orange and listen to Nonno talk about his day, and recount what was happening in the neighborhood. Mrs. Rossi was going to have another baby. The Conti’s daughter was going to be a doctor. The Bruno’s dog kept stealing carrots from the stall. (And yet Nonno never moved the carrots.) The stories would make Gianni smile. He loved these visits.
What he loved most was that Nonno never criticized him, no matter how much trouble he got into. Somehow he managed to express disapproval without berating him like his mother would. The message was silent but clear: “I love you, but I expect more from you. I know you’ll get there someday.”
That’s why Gianni never quite gave up. He just… he didn’t know what to do with his life, that’s all. He knew he’d never be a doctor like the Conti girl. University was out of reach for his family. And besides, his ambitions weren’t that grand. He knew he would live in this same neighborhood for the rest of his life, not because he was trapped, but because he wanted to. This was his home. He just needed to find his purpose.
Then one morning Mr. Gallo came pounding on his door to tell him that Nonno had a heart attack “or something” and had been taken to the hospital in the city. Gianni was not to worry. It was probably nothing. But could he watch the stall for the day?
This was Nonno’s way of distracting him. Of course he would worry. But Nonno’s stall had been open every day for 40 years. It wouldn’t seem right if it were closed. So Gianni got dressed and headed for the market.
The produce had already been delivered. Piled on the sidewalk haphazardly in splintery wooden crates, it had yet to be put on display. Gianni set to work.
He stacked everything neatly, just as he had seen Nonno do a thousand times. Not a single bean or tomato out of place. The stall was like a work of art. It said to all the passersby, “This is quality. Buy here.” The splintery crates were stacked in the alley for retrieval. And thus began the day.
Nonno recovered, thank God, but he had to slow down. So that summer, Gianni ran the stall for him. It was only temporary. Gianni’s friends would ride by and call him an old man. But a funny thing happened. He discovered that he didn’t care. He had found his purpose.
When the leaves started changing colors on the trees, Nonno sat down with Gianni and they both agreed that it was time. It was time for Gianni to take his rightful place in the family business. Besides, Nonno was enjoying feeding the pigeons as well as that damned carrot thief of a dog, and playing bocce ball with men he had known since the first grade. Now it would be Nonno’s turn to visit Gianni every day.
On the day Nonno took this picture, he could have told that casual observer that what he was seeing was not exhaustion. It was contentment and pride. It was the way things were always meant to be. It was just taking Gianni a while to figure it out, so Nonno had to give him a push. With his heart.
Now, how to get him to notice that Conti girl…