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My childhood is full of echoes Kuwait of distant sounds and voices. “Come see, come see, best pots anywhere. Here’s your friendly pot maker”; “Tinsmith at your service, here and now! Any pots Kuwait to repair? I’m at your door!” The voice of the codderaru, the tinsmith, Kuwait who came from far away, reached my ears as if from a fairy-tale world or as if in a dream, Kuwait when it was still dawn. I would soon realize that it was Sunday, and, true, it would have been nice to sleep a bit more, but Sundays and feast days was Kuwait when the itinerant humanity went on the move.

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The voice of the tinsmith, however, was particularly familiar to me, as was the voice of the women from the mountain villages, who addressed the “pretty ladies” of the houses for “a drop of olive oil” or a handful of olives in exchange for their savoury damoncelle apples or their lupini beans, their chestnuts or potatoes that grew where they came from. Well-known to me too was the voice of the seller of textile and clothing materials, who kept yelling out the names of what he had to offer, carrying on his shoulder underwear and other garments rolled into a cube covered by greenish-coloured cloth. “Gorgeous stuff, gorgeous stuff”—and “Gorgeous Stuff” is how we children called him when we ran after him.

Then in the Fall months there was the crastaturi, the man who went from village to village castrating pigs, to ensure that they grew fatter. From time to time the sampavularu, a worshipper of Saint Paul who acted as if he had the same powers as the saint himself, came by with the serpents hanging from his neck, producing a mixture of amazement, curiosity and terror among us children. There was the voice of the knife grinder who cried: “Knives and scissors sharpened!” Or the umbrella mender would pass by, shouting himself hoarse with his: “It’s raining, it’s raining. God, how it rains!” As well as the salt seller with his: “Yes, they’ve salted him, they’ve salted him. God, how much salt they put on him!”

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