A LIFE episode 01 – George, 0 years old










 “I hope he will be a good man, we’ll do our best to make sure he’s a good person but most of all, we wish for him to be happy”


Who are we when we’re not here yet? Who are we months, weeks, or even days before being born?

“Just like every other parent, I suppose, I hope he will be a good kid and then a good boy, a polite man who respects others and is able to gain their respect.”


More than anything, we are our parents’ thoughts and hopes. We are a small but very clear glimpse of the future.


Whatever your age is, it doesn’t matter. Today you are going back to the last few days before life begins.


I was roughly 19 when it happened. I was playing football in the backyard with my cousin, who was ten. He was worried about his exam that marked the end of primary, which in Italy is the first real exam we have to sit. . I tried to make light of his worries, I  told him it was something we all went through and that he didn’t have any reason to panic.. He then looked at me and said, “How do you know what it’s like  to be 10 years old?”

Hello, my name is Matteo Caccia and this program is called “A life”. It will air every weekend on Radio2, the second RAI channel, the Italian public radio. You are listening to the English version of this program’s podcast. We  want to tell the story of a whole life  by exploring the main stages we all go through, during our own life. We will record 25 episodes, telling the story of 25 different people at a specific age of their life, from 0 to 100 years old.

The first story, the one we want to begin with, is the life of a baby who was born on the day the program started. The voices you will hear are those of his parents, Andrea and Raffaela. We spoke to them right before and immediately after the birth of the protagonist of this story, Jorge.

Andrea and Raffaela are about to have their first child. As a couple, they encapsulate  this new generation of parents who chose to wait until they’re 40  before dedicating their time, love and attention  to another human being. Sometimes it’s by choice, sometimes by necessity.

But this story is not about them. The protagonist of the story is still  inside Raffaela’s womb, he is 7 months old and his life has yet to begin.

Or maybe not. Maybe his life began, as for all of us, the day his parents chose a specific word. Because there is a word that we almost never speak, but that we hear every single day. A word that identifies us and somehow tells us who we are. A word that, though not chosen by us, is forever glued to us from the day it was chosen: our name:
“she owns a t-shirt with the effigy of St. George printed on it, and she has a keyring with that same image. One evening, while I was having a shower, I saw the t-shirt on the bed. At that time we had started talking about possible names, so I went downstairs and told her, “I saw the t-shirt and the keyring, how about Giorgio or Jorge, the Portuguese version? We went for the Portuguese and chose the name Jorge” (Raffaela)

“I’m a devotee of Saint George; well, not really a devotee, as I’m not Catholic, but I’ve always liked Saint George because of his story. He was a warrior, he defeated the dragon” (Raffaela)


There you go, Jorge isn’t even born  and yet, although he won’t be a warrior, his life will begin and go on every day with this story associated to  him, the story of Saint George and the dragon. In the town of Selem, in Libya, there lives a dragon in a pond. To keep the dragon happy, the townspeople are forced to feed him 2 sheep every single day. When the place starts running out of sheep, the people have no choice but to sacrifice a sheep and a young person, randomly chosen. One day it’s the turn of the king’s young daughter, Princess Silene. Her father begs to spare her, but  the young girl must leave for the pond. On her way there, she meets a knight who tells her not to worry, to tie her belt around the dragon’s neck and bring it with her. And so it goes, the obedient dragon is lead to the centre of town where, in front of everyone, George announces that God gave him the power to tame the dragon and that he will kill it if people convert.

And this is what we are before we are born: the story of someone who carried our name before us.

(MATTEO has a phone call with his mother)

“- Hello?

–  Hello mum, it’s me

–  Hello darling, what’s up?

–  I hope I’m not bothering you, I just have a quick question which is very important for the program and for today’s episode: do you happen to remember why you called me Matteo?

–  No! Well, you were nameless for 3 days because we thought we were going to have a girl.  I liked normal, classic names, such as Luca, Marco… Matteo I especially liked, and so we named you Matteo

–  Did we already have a Matteo in the family?

–  No, we didn’t think too much about that.  They told us, ‘This baby has been without a name for 3 whole days, have you finally picked one?’ And so we chose  Matteo

–  And what if I’d been a girl?

–  If you had been a girl, I don’t know…

–  One last thing and then I’ll let you go: do you happen to remember the first time I “revealed” myself? I mean the first time you felt me… how did I make my presence felt the first time?

–  How did you make your presence felt? I don’t remember, you probably kicked. I must have been  around 6th months gone when I felt a kick, a little hit.

–  You didn’t have  any scan? You didn’t hear my heartbeat?

–  No, sweetie, we didn’t use to do that, back then. You only went to the gynaecologist and he would tell you that everything was fine and that was it, there wasn’t anything else.


How does a life manifest itself? The first time we make ourselves known, or we make our presence felt. How can something that wasn’t there, all of a sudden be there?

“I think it was around the 4th month. It’s like a little fish, something really light at the beginning, like  a tiny butterfly, like butterfly wings” (Raffaela)


So how does a life begin? How are we brought into this world, or rather how do we go from one world to another? How do we move from a closed up, warm, and protected world to another one that has no boundaries and is full of people? I have never thought about it, never dreamt of it and sadly, no one can remember it. But if I try to do it here, now, the first thing that comes to mind is the cold out there, and then the noise, the hands that grab you, the sudden weight of your body, the blinding light and the infinite solitude you feel. Maybe also that first cry that frees up your lungs and lets in the air, as if to open them forever and allow them to do what they’re supposed to do, to free us from the biggest fear, the fear of dying, at the exact same moment when our life begins.


Milan, November 28th 2014

My little big Jorge, at last we’re about to meet you. Your Mum and Dad cannot wait to see your face and tell you a long and funny story that has to do especially with the last 3 months. We will tell you our story as we lived it and, day by day, your presence will make that story even better. It will become longer, beautiful, exciting, and wonderful. What we wish for and we pray for every day is that you will be a happy child and that you will bring joy to this world. This will be the happiest Christmas of our lives because you will be with us, a real gift for us but mostly for you, your life. We love you very much, Mum and Dad. (Raffaela)


And then Christmas arrived, and a few days earlier Jorge arrived too

Say hello! – Hello…


What you just heard was Jorge’s very first noise. It comes from a short video called “Jorge, first eheh”, filmed by his dad Andrea on his mobile phone a few minutes after Jorge was born.

It was December 10th 2015. A couple of days later, I went to visit them.

(GPS voice)

-“Exit towards Costamasnaga Centro, and then continue straight.

– Welcome to Costamsnaga, textile city, twinned with Clonmelle

– Turn right

– Oh, enough now, you didn’t get anything right!

– Exit the roundabout and then turn right

– At midnight he eats, then he wakes up at 4am and we change him, he eats again at 7-8 and after each meal we change his nappy. He eats again between 10.30 and midday, at 3/3.30pm, then at 6, 9pm and again at midnight. (Raffaela)


A few days after we are born, we don’t know anything yet. We must learn EVERYTHING and EVERYTHING must be handed to us so that we can easily reach it with our hands or our mouth. And if you try and think about it, learning EVERYTHING is no mean feat. Try to imagine having to learn how to walk, how to talk, how to use our hands to grab objects. We have to learn how to listen, how to look at things, and later on we must learn how to read, how to write the letters of the alphabet and how to recognise them, how to read numbers and how to count. But most of all, we must leant to separate the world into good and evil, right and wrong, and be able to identify what is good and what is not.

In other words, we can’t do anything, or rather ALMOST anything, because there is one thing we already know from the very start , from our first moments in this new world: we know how to SURVIVE

-Just after he was born they gave him to me, then they gave him to Raffaela and he immediately found her breast and latched on, instinctively

– You know, like puppies who start feeling around for their mum’s nipples, he was following the smell… (Andrea)


OK, so, this is more or less what we are experiencing: we have just been born, we are hungry, we are cold, we are tired. It hurts when we digest our first milk and we cry to express this pain. And then we wait. We wait to be changed, washed, fed, covered up and dressed properly. This is what it looks like  from the outside, when we are small and a little wrinkly. And yet there’s more, already there is more than just a human being who eats, sleeps, and survives. For instance, there are things we like

He likes  milk, he likes to feel his mother’s embrace, her smell. When she holds him, he is calmer (Andrea)


And there are  things we don’t like

– He hates being changed, the bathroom we prepared for him is like a torture chamber
– It makes me cry too! The first few days I saw him cry and I cried with him (Raffaela e Andrea)


Chapter 1: I AM BORN.
” WHETHER I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. “


This is the beginning of one of literature’s greatest stories. The main character and narrator is David Copperfield, and the author is Charles Dickens. We end this first weekend and the first stage of our life  with the first few lines of this novel because, as David Copperfield says, we are all  protagonists of  our  own life. Only time will tell if we are heroes or not, but the story of every single individual begins in the exact same way. The only difference is how it continues.

My name is Alice, I’m 3 years old and I live in Ostana with Mum and Dad. My last name is Berdugorobere, that’s my last name, and I am an animal veterinary. (Alice, 3 years old)



We welcome your birth and we move on: next episode we will be 3 and a half years old.







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