Going through my father’s papers recently, he died last year but we are busy people and it takes time to sift through the clutter which is other people’s lives, I found a letter which I read almost by chance, and realised how little I knew of the man I remember as just sitting in the corner of the room watching us grow and making no comment day by day.
” Dear Son,
Uncertainty is commonplace, the mess we make of life is commonplace, but during the war in an attic far above the street, lying with a lady whose name I did not know, but with whom I had escaped capture, human first and last, clinging to each other and a sense of humanity, we listened out for every sound, as down below the German soldiers walked our streets, seeking out their enemy.
Whatever we had done, together or separately was nothing beside the aggression that invading nation exercised, whose troops destroyed our own, and whose leader spoke of order as he understood it, though below us only carnage reigned,
In a city full of rape and plunder alien troops gorged themselves on villainy until, by some miracle, they had had their fill at last and moved onto to conquer fresh landscapes expanding their empire, after laying waste our land. We lay there silently: embarrassingly intimate as fear cast aside conditioning and wondered where the road to safety lay. We spoke in whispers, planned our escape which for now just meant lying there in stillness while darkness filled the room.
At last the city returned to something approaching normal and somehow we survived. The war of which I write seems unrepeatable but everything, I fear, is repeatable.
When you read this I will be gone to join your Mum, the lady who lay beside me on that night, and hopefully we shall find our peace at last.
May you, my son, know nothing of that world, and live to treasure those who touch your life. Time and again man imprints his chaos on the world around him but I pray you live in a period marked by harmony.