By Loranne Vella
“Mill-bieb ’il ġewwa” is Maltese for “whatever happens at home, behind closed doors”. Literally it means “from the front door inwards”, while metaphorically it refers to the idea that what happens at home stays at home, that at home, inside, we have secrets we do not share with the world outside. mill-bieb ’il ġewwa, as the title of this collection of short stories, could easily be translated into take a look inside (me), since these stories slightly open the front door and invite outsiders to take a glimpse at several characters’ inner and secret realities. Here we will encounter individuals who are busy brushing their teeth, taking a shower, drinking a cup of coffee or combing their hair while their mind is elsewhere. Elsewhere is at times a memory, at others it’s a leap forward in time, or a comforting mental visit to some other place. Elsewhere is neither here nor now.
The characters’ daily and habitual actions could shed more light about their agents, if a closer examination were permitted, such as remembering a significant moment in one’s past every time a specific action is performed, or the different ways in which they struggle to hide their fears and weaknesses, or the actions they take to shape their future. At the centre of each story, then, is the idea that our actions hide and yet reveal who we are. And also, that life is like a game (a jigsaw puzzle or a computer game) that we have to win day by day, piece by piece, in order to move on to the next level.