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Even now Edi, Amos's mother, never tires of recounting how her firstborn son grew up amid a thousand difficulties.
He was a lively, unmanageable child. "I would be distracted for an instant, and already he would have gotten into some trouble," she says; and if the questioner is disposed to listen to her, she will soon launch into an endless tale.
For example, she says: "He was never hungry. He was always that way, from the time I nursed him. Then, when he was a little bit bigger, I was forced to follow him around with soup plate in hand, to put a small spoonful of minestra in his mouth. I followed him everywhere: onto the tractors...the workers' motor scooters...everywhere." Or else: "One day I looked for him, but he wasn't around; I called him, but he didn't answer; I looked up and saw him standing on the windowsill of my bedroom, on the second floor. He wasn't even five years old."
And if the questioner shows no sign of impatience, she continues: "So that you can understand what I went through, I'll tell you this. One morning, in Turin, I was walking along a major downtown street, holding the baby by the hand. I stopped to look at a store window. When I turned around, only seconds later, I felt my heart flutter: Amos was gone. Desperately, I looked all around. Nothing; he'd gone. I called him: nothing. At that point, I don't know why, I thought to look up and saw him up there, high up. He had climbed to the top of the stop sign."
As she says this, though, her expression becomes serious: "Amos was only a few months old when webecame aware that he had a terrible pain in his eyes...blue eyes, very beautiful. The doctors diagnosed congenital bilateral glaucoma: a disease that sooner or later leads to complete blindness. From that moment on we raced from doctor to doctor, from specialist to specialist, from healer to healer...yes, we even tried healers, I am not ashamed to say. In the end our Via Crucis, our painful tribulation, landed us in Turin, where we went to consult Professor Gallenga, who was a famous doctor. We spent many weeks in his hospital. Amos was operated on many times, with the hope of saving at least some of his eyesight. We used to arrive exhausted from the trip, but above all prostrate from fear, from uncertainty, and bewildered by our own impotence. After accompanying us, my husband would leave and I would remain with Amos. The professor was understanding: he put a room with two beds at our disposal and we quickly became friends with the doctors and nurses, who proved to be indulgent in the face of Amos's restlessness. They even gave me permission to bring a little bicycle in, which Amos rode up and down the corridors. In this way he vented his frustration a bit. He suffered much, and it was difficult to calm him.
"One morning though..." And while Amos's mother prepares herself to recount what happened that day, her expression becomes calmer. "Amos quieted down and stopped crying. We had just had an awful night and I felt tremendous relief at finally seeing him tranquil. I struggled to understand the reason for his sudden calmness, without success. All of a sudden I saw him turn on his side and press with his small hands against the wall alongside the bed. A little time passed, I forget how long, when I became aware of a silence that I had not noticed before. At that point Amos began crying again. What had happened? Why had that sudden silence upset him?
"And then, just as suddenly, he was calm again. As before, he returned to pressing against the wall near his bed. I strained my ears and became aware that music was filtering through from the next room. I carefully moved closer: it was a type of music that I did not recognize; probably symphonic or chamber music. It seemed to be the reason for Amos's tranquillity. I was happy because I had discovered something that gave him some relief from his pain. I went into the hall and knocked on the door of the next room. 'Come in!' I heard; the man who invited me to enter spoke with a foreign accent. I pushed open the door and saw him: he was relaxing in bed, two pillows arranged comfortably around his robust shoulders. He had the muscular arms and hands of a manual laborer. His face was smiling, open, but his eyes were bandaged. He was a Russian laborer; an accident on the job had deprived him of sight and he consoled himself with his little record player. I felt a lump in my throat, a deep emotion, and began to speak, to tell the story. I told him of Amos, of his reaction to the music, and asked his permission to bring my little boy to his room once in a while. He immediately said yes; even though I don't know how much he had understood of my account -- he knew only a few words of Italian -- the expression on his face suggested real joy at the thought of being useful, and a simple sense of solidarity..."
In this way, Amos's mother recounts how her son discovered music, whenever someone is disposed to listen to her.The Music of Silence. Copyright © by Andrea Bocelli. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.