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What would you request for your last meal?


A request on death row

Allow me to stretch the concept a bit and introduce my friend Antonello.

He was my trumpet teacher. And he was sentenced. Although the day wasn’t set, we discussed the ‘last meal’ issue every time I visited . Seeing him, lying on that strange bed, getting thinner and thinner, was heart breaking. He had accepted the verdict, though, and never lost his spirit and his wit.

A last meal shouldn’t surprise, we concluded. It shouldn’t be something new. Because if it tasted good, you’d have regrets never having it before. If it tasted bad then you just ruined your last meal. So we went over all types of food.

Antonello liked wine. He always had. So he asked me to bring some when I visited. It was forbidden alright. What are they gonna do? Kill me? His little joke.

He hated the food he was given. Saltless, insipid, over-boiled and tepid. It bothered him endlessly. It was cruel, he said, to give a dying man healthy food.

Smoking a cigaret. That was something he’d like to do. It was out of the question. No smoking in the ward. Antonello was furious, but it couldn’t be arranged.

He didn’t believe in afterlife. He had stopped believing in life as it was. And when the doctor told me it was about to happen, I drove as fast as I could to my dear friend Antonello. The windscreen wiper cleared the raindrops, the back of my hand the tears.

I brought a bottle of his favourite red wine and a fried calzone. That was what we had agreed upon. The doctor rolled her eyes seeing what I carried. His wife hugged me and forced a useless smile. So we stood there, around his deathbed. He was still conscious but very weak. His voice had already gone.

His last meal had been boiled cauliflower, boiled potatoes and boiled fish.

Antonello died age 75. Exactly four months after he was sentenced with a brain tumour.

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