Walter Tobagi, the best schoolmate

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Some, like Walter, like the writer, like Vittorio Zucconi, who passed away a year ago, played journalists at the “Zanzara”, the Parini high school newspaper. Some began to play with guns, the real ones. The tragedy of a generation is enclosed in this oblique trajectory of normal dreams and poisoned dreams, of looks that cross and sometimes recognize each other, but do not hold back the trigger. Memories are clouded, the survivors are fewer and fewer, the memory is nourished by many traces: the very lucid ones of Tobagi’s writings, who had understood in advance the descent of the country into the abyss, those of those who loved him, and the imprecise ones of the historical and judicial truth, buried – the latter – in the dirty kennel of conscience, the repentance of its killers.

And then there are the fragments of those who were there in those hours, impressed in scattered order, flashes that together support the story reconstructed in the archives. The leader’s phone call, “run, there has been an attack”, one of many of those years. A bloody tablecloth, the rain that washes my notebook, the director Franco Di Bella, bent over the corpse, his hand on his forehead, as if to hide the tears. The deputy director, Barbiellini, is crying beside him. And then, in the evening, again Di Bella who enters the Albertini room, where the newspaper was made at the time, approaches and encourages those who have to put together the notes and pretend coldness, while the hands tremble on the typewriter.

Another fragment is the last time I saw him alive, under the arcades of Turin, together with recounting the anti-terrorism operation who defeated the Piedmontese column of the Br and brought to the fore the first repentant, Patrizio Peci. Tobagi knew he was under threat, but he was calm, seraphic. “I need a lot of sleep.” He was the oldest and best schoolmate. I asked him: when do you find time to study so much?

The management assigned an escort to the reporters who dealt with terrorism. My guardian angel was named Walter. At the funeral, in the midst of that immense pain of a destroyed city, he too, like everyone else, wept a giant with a gun under his jacket, but fragile.

My colleagues were crying in pain and fear, and this is another fragment. Who could it be next time? I believe that Tobagi, to the young anguished by the present, to those who exchange a confinement with a curfew, would tell those years, which were really worse, not to console, but not to lose the measure of things. This is what the elderly are for.

Many readers were crying too, rushing to give their last farewell. They were house people, part of a large wounded family, people who understood that for the Corriere you could even die. There is one last flash, the San Siro stadium, a collaborator of “Milan-Inter” collects the comments from the post match. The boy who played the journalist at the “Mosquito” is growing up. He will become a great professional. His youth will be too short.

The volume

The book is dedicated to the figure of the journalist killed on 28 May 1980 Being able to understand, want to explain. Walter Tobagi forty years later, edited by Giangiacomo Schiavi, on newsstands for a month with the “Corriere della Sera” at the price of € 8.90 plus the cost of the newspaper. The volume opens with introductory texts by Schiavi himself and Ferruccio de Bortoli, Benedetta Tobagi, Venanzio Postiglione. The book contains some of the most important articles by Walter Tobagi (on terrorism, at work, on the problem of young people), accompanied by texts of other signatures of the “Corriere” which deal with the same issues in an updated key

May 28, 2020 (change May 28, 2020 | 11:26 pm)

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