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Bonino L.


by Enrico F.



Bonino was born in Perdasdefogu, a small village in Ogliastra, on 22 December 1919, a century ago.

He has always lived in Perdasdefogu and from here he does not intend to move.
His family consisted of 6 children and lived with both parents; he had two older sisters, Filomena and Iolanda, one was born in 1907 and the other two years later in 1909, then his brother Orazio, Maria and Italina (who died young, Bonino learned that she died by telegram when she was in Yugoslavia, during the Second World War). At home the decisions were made by her father and mother together, both about their children's studies and work. Although there were not many possibilities, there were few jobs to aspire to.

Now he lives in the house where he spent his childhood, which was composed of four rooms with "su stassu" (the loft); as in all the houses of the village there was the kitchen, the oven, but also the room where the animals were kept: the pig, the millstone with the donkey (because before there was neither the mill nor the baker and the bread was made at home, as well as the millstone of wheat). He remembers that the bread of that time was very good, his mother also often made "hard bread", better known as "white bread", which was made during the festivities. For every day instead she made the "moddiggina", the typical bread made with potatoes. He tells that in his time there was a lot of poverty and in fact many families could eat only barley bread, but despite everything, people lived peacefully and there were few people who left the village in search of fortune.
He also tells of his childhood in the fields, like all the inhabitants of the village, because when he was a child all were farmers or shepherds, there were few artisans, except for some bricklayers, some carpenters, a blacksmith and ironmith.

He had to skip a few years of elementary school. He didn't make it to the fifth grade; he made the fourth grade promoted to fifth grade, then his father - after finishing compulsory school - considered him old enough to take him with him to plow and sow the vegetable garden. At that time the first iron ploughs appeared in Perdasdefogu; before then there were only wooden ones, and this was fortunate for him, who immediately learned to use it.
To be a farmer in our land was a difficult job, the land is bad to work, arid, stony and does not have an abundant production; so much so that very often the ploughmen went to Su Pranu, in the land owned by Arzana, Villagrande, Ulassai, where there were plains that yielded more.
From the Fascist period he remembers that from a very young age he had been called to perform the premilitary service: for this reason, when he had to leave to be a soldier, he already knew the rifles, the ranks and knew how to behave towards the higher ranks.
During his last year as a soldier he also learned to be a telegrapher, transmitting with the so-called point and line (Morse code): it was an important role because, for enemy spies, it was difficult to decipher these signals. He remembers that this task gave him great satisfaction, the telegraph that he used was a particular instrument that lacked the key and he says that he did it himself using an iron key like those with which you tighten the nuts and a wooden log. He was very good: he completed the course and obtained the patent with top marks, 20/20, excellent with praise, a patent that he still jealously preserves.
In the twenty years of Fascism, he remembers, it was common belief that Italy was the most powerful state in the world, the richest, the most cultured. It was only fascist propaganda but he (like many others) really believed it.


As a young man he loved to dress well. He says amused that, when he went to Bologna for military service, all those present were lined up for the delivery of the uniform, but it was too big a size, and he felt like a puppet dressed like that. He changed, went to deliver his civilian clothes and a lieutenant said to him: "Who did this to you? Go to the warehouse and get your uniform changed."
During his military service he was sent to Ravenna and then to Camporosso, a small town near Ventimiglia, in Liguria, where everyone learned to do the job they liked. He remembers that he was in awe of the continents, he thought they were smarter and more intelligent than the Sardinians, so he didn't say he was a telegrapher with a patent, but he went along with the watchmen, because he was afraid of making a bad impression in front of them. So he learned a new job, climbed poles and made iron ties.


One day, however, he approached the offices where the telegraph operators worked and, listening to them, noticed that they didn't know how to do much more than he did. At this point he asked to try the telegraph but was sent away. He did not give up and continued to insist, pointing out that he was able to use it, so he was satisfied and the lieutenant was amazed by the mastery, asking him why he had gone to the watchmen. Bonino was the best of all the telegraph operators.
During the war he was sent for a period in Albania, then he returned to Italy and spent a lot of time in Sanremo, where he started working for the civil telegraph.

Bonino, still today, is a very nice and sociable person, he loves telling jokes but above all he loves telling anecdotes of the past. He remembers that when he was young he had beautiful, wavy hair; when he left for the army a lieutenant ordered him to cut his hair to avoid trouble with him. But then Bonino met a Major from Sardinia who, after learning that he too was Sardinian, took him in sympathy and under his protective wing, recommending him to turn to him for any problem. He immediately told about the Lieutenant's threat and the Major told Bonino to leave his hair as it was. After a few days he met again the Lieutenant who took him back again for not having cut his hair yet. But this time Bonino said that the Major had told him to leave it as it was and the Lieutenant could do nothing but go away in silence, the superior orders could not be questioned!
Another anecdote he remembers concerns the time when he was in Yugoslavia, when another Lieutenant ordered him to clean his boots, but Bonino pointed out that he was a telegrapher, not a handyman, he had not been sent by the company to be a boot cleaner, and he did not clean them.
One day he felt sick and was hospitalized, they told him he needed to rest and he was sent back to Italy, it was 1942/1943 (he doesn't remember exactly the date), but it was during this period that fascism began to collapse.

Once back in Italy, his father fell ill and so Bonino went back to being a farmer for a few years, he even bought some small oxen and raised them. He started ploughing and cultivating some land.
On October 10, 1952 he started working in the municipality. He immediately learned the new tasks, also because he had a lot of willpower and perhaps that was the job he liked the most. Perhaps because he could stay in the village and no longer in the countryside.
On July 27, 1963 he married Elena Mulas (born on 14/04/1938), after several years of engagement, because he had a temporary job and wanted to move on before getting married and guarantee a certain stability to his wife. In 1959 a competition was held in which a young man from Bari Sardo also participated, but Bonino was the best and thus became an official registry office.
From the marriage with Elena 4 children were born, 2 unfortunately died at an early age and a short distance from each other.
He travelled a lot. He especially remembers Liguria, where his daughter Monica lived for a while. But he was also in Sicily, in Pachino, where his mother's brother lived. In Sicily he visited Etna, almost reaching the top. He remembers that on that occasion he met a car with some tourists, hearing them talking he understood that they were Sardinians. Then he made a joke by surprisingly opening the door of their car and saying in dialect: "Eitta sesi fendu innoi?? (In Italian: what are you doing here??) The tourists were initially surprised, then laughed with him. He also visited Venice, Florence with its beautiful bridge, the Ponte Vecchio on the Arno, "where there are the beautiful and dear little shops", he says laughing. Then Pisa, a beautiful city. He says that seeing the tower is a spectacle, he says: "It hangs but doesn't fall as the song says: it hangs but never goes down".

Thinking about the past, remember that one had a lot of respect for the elderly, but the seniority of that time was very short, one did not live long. His father was only 72 years old when he died, but he was physically old and had a hard life. You became old when you were young because life was not so easy, and it was like that in all countries.
He says that for the elderly there was not much choice, there were no hospices and nursing homes, so at some point they were cared for at home by their children. They worked as long as they could, the shepherds, for example, went to the sheepfold and slept in the country. They continued to work as long as their strength allowed, even when they were old. At that time there were very few medicines, so much so that when someone got sick it was enough that they were made some pasta to heal, because they really suffered so much hunger and often they were sick for this too.
Today pensioners are better cared for, not only by their families but also by the State. Before there wasn't a health insurance fund, if one fell ill or had to have an operation he had to pay at his own expense, then it happened that the Municipality took responsibility for guaranteeing and paying for him.
He reflected on his condition as an old man and said that when he was young he didn't think about what his old age would be like, and this is a natural thing: he just looked at the elderly but didn't think about when he would be like them. Sometimes he was amazed to see an old man suffering from the cold in the middle of summer, whereas today he realizes that it is he who feels the cold in the summer now.
Life in retirement is more or less what he expected. As soon as he retired he rightly enjoyed some well-deserved rest, then he started tending the garden like in the old days: he fenced a piece of land, made some walls, brought some new land, took care of it and proudly admits "he made it beautiful".
As for the moments of leisure, he learned to play cards and even billiards. He liked to go to the bar and play a few games every day, but only in the afternoon because he spent the morning at the garden. He also began to frequent the club for the elderly for which he paid an annual subscription. But in that period he began to feel the tiredness in his legs, having to make some climbs to get to the club. His illness was advancing, a little known illness for which he had to try different therapies. He remembers Dr. Gianni Lai (founder of the Jerzu hospital), he was his friend when he practiced his profession in the country, who gave him a possible cure for his pathology.
Today he lives in the same house of his childhood, with his wife, his two daughters Massima and Monica and his nephew Gabriele with whom he often talks and watches television.
His health condition forces him to sit in a wheelchair, and every day in the house there are many people coming and going: health care professionals, friends and neighbours who visit him.
He has always subscribed to the newspaper, he read it personally until 2-3 months ago. Nowadays he has vision problems that don't even allow him to read the words written in large letters, so his wife reads the newspaper for him. He always wants to be informed about what is happening in Italy and in the world. He does not hear very well, he hears voices and noises but often does not understand what is said. Morning and evening he watches the news, but journalists speak very quickly and he doesn't understand them well, but he likes Amadeus because he has a big voice, he speaks softly and can understand what he says.
On TV he looks for the "little films" he likes, the ones whose story he understands and the ones in which there are the pretty girls.

He thinks that new technologies are a good thing, before you could keep in touch only by writing letters, today you just need to make a phone call to feel and a video call to see people far away. She defines the phone as a "devil" because you can do anything with it: she tells about when she couldn't remember the name of the cursed painter! His daughter Massima, in a few seconds, did a search with the phone and gave him the answer he was looking for: it was Caravaggio. Or as when she had in mind an ancient song of which she couldn't remember the title but only a few words that she tried to "sing" on the phone: "Down there in Arizona, land of dreams and chimeras". Thanks to the vocal search, the phone was able to find the song and play it in a short time, and he surprised exclaimed: "Arrazza de organizzazioni!". (In English: Wow, what an organization!!)
He says that when he was interviewed by Tg2, the day the report was aired, he received a phone call from his cousin's son, from Milan, who had just seen the report and recognized him, and was very happy to have seen it on TV.
He is aware that today many young people are escaping from the country and also from Sardinia, because the country unfortunately does not compete.