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An Inconvenient Tear

Once again, ORbits offers you the opportunity to test your knowledge of all things literary. To commemorate Remembrance Day, this week’s passage comes from a powerful account of the effects of war wrought on a generation:

When Christmas preparations began in earnest, and I was set to decorate the mess-tent with palms and streamers, and to make jellies and huge fruit salads for the men’s special teas, the memory of the previous year, with its similar activities so blindly and cheerfully performed in the very hour of [his] death, came back like the dull ache of an old shattering wound. In the middle of the bright, noisy kitchen, with the Home Sister issuing orders in her harsh, melancholy voice, and the Maltese maids around her chattering like monkeys, it was sometimes difficult to prevent an inconvenient tear from falling into the pail of fruit salad.

‘I wonder where he is – and if he is at all’, I soliloquised in my diary, for there was now no one within several hundred miles to whom such personal speculations could be expressed. ‘I wonder if he sees me writing this now. It’s absurd to say time makes one forget; I miss him as much as ever I did. One recovers from the shock, just as one gradually would get used to managing with one’s left hand if one had lost one’s right, but one never gets over the loss, for one is never the same after it. I have got used to facing the long empty years ahead of me if I survive the War, but I have always before me the realisation of how empty they are and will be, since he will never be there again’.

The answer to last week’s challenge was The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy.

This week’s answer, and another challenge, on ORbits next week.