But are you sure that your son couldn’t do like Filippo? Mother of two sons (but I hope/imagine if fathers also ask) I have the natural temptation to say no. No, my children are good kids, I tell myself. And what parent could say otherwise? All parents think so. We are always parents of good kids, beautiful cockroaches to their mother. We think we know them better than others just because they are our children, we raised them, raised them, educated them. But how much do we really know them? I always ask myself this and I wondered even more strongly yesterday after a phone call from a childless friend who asked me: Is it possible that the parents didn’t have an inkling, didn’t understand, didn’t have a suspicion? But would you really not realize that your child was about to make a gesture like that? That he can leave the house with a knife to kill his girlfriend who dumped him? I shuddered when faced with these questions. Because the real answer is no. No, I don’t know.
Could our children also become murderers? Murderers like Philip? Perhaps the great emotion for Giulia’s end comes precisely from this unanswered question which creates so many questions in all the homes of people who consider themselves “normal”. There is no social discomfort here, it has been written. These are not dysfunctional families. Here there is the banality of everyday life, the provincial middle class, school, university, graduation. He wasn’t your usual fool. He didn’t lead. He didn’t do drugs. Theirs was a young relationship, without the usual excuses behind which the “justificationists” of femicide hide: she was a slut, she went out in a miniskirt, she provoked others, she didn’t let him see her children, he was ruined by alimony, he was depressed, he came from an environment of environmental degradation, etc. The list of deviant causes is always too long and misleading. It is in a certain way the same type of question that Nicola Lagioia asks himself in “The city of the living”, a wonderful and terrible book (and wonderful because it is terrible) where he enters the heads of two boys from good families, Manuel Foffo and Marco Prato, who in 2016 killed that poor man Luca Varani in an atrocious manner.
There too was a news story that had stirred emotions and remained in the newspapers for days. There too are astonished parents: one of the two murderers confesses to his father in a rest area along the motorway that he has killed someone (he doesn’t even know who).
Giulia’s case is completely different, but the type of estrangement created in the parents by the murder is the same. Even then the newspapers had talked about monsters, while Lagioia wrote an entire novel to show that monsters don’t exist. Thinking about the monster is too easy and comforting, it means that they are different from us, that we will never be like that.
Instead the world is full of people like Filippo Turetta and parents who don’t understand, or who ignore, remove. The cry of pain, or rather the appeal of Elena Cecchettin, Giulia’s sister, underlines an important, fundamental thing: Philip was not a sick monster but the healthy son of the patriarchy.
I underlined some sentences from the interview given yesterday to this newspaper by Filippo’s father, Nicola Turetta. He said: “They broke up.” No, they didn’t break up, she was the one who left him. And he explains that he consoled his son like this: “Don’t worry, you’ll find more defaulters.” Then, against all evidence of the facts, he continues to tell himself his truth about that son who had never caused problems, “with behavior that as a father, I would have considered perfect”. The good guy who had never hurt anyone, who didn’t stalk Giulia, who had only followed her to the shopping center once, even if she didn’t want to. “Just once,” she says.
I read these sentences astonished and I think they are worryingly superficial. Indeed, they are an integral part of the problem. That monsters are born in families, that mentality and family education make the difference. I read and think: not me. I would never say things like that, I would have understood what was going on in my son’s head. I would like to respond like this to my childless friend, but the shiver continues to run down my spine, because deep down I fear that it isn’t true.