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88 22 Each time Maria is home on holidays, people marvel at her. She is that smart girl who owns a coat for winter, who wears slim laced-up shoes, and who so often goes by train to the big town to attend school. Many of the adults in Freilingen have never even seen such a town. When the villagers talk to Maria, they have to speak High German; with anyone else they would speak the Eifel dialect. After the first day back, of course, Maria belongs fully to Freilingen again, but she is still seen as being different. The warmhearted kindness she is shown by everyone also contains respect and admiration. Maria knows that she experiences and sees much more than the hearing children in her village, and perhaps also learns more in school. But even so, anyone who can hear appears to her to be infinitely superior. She is somewhat afraid of the Aachen children in Stromgasse, Rosstrasse, and on Mühlenberg. Maria is often surprised how assertive they are and how privileged they act. If someone is drunk or strangely dressed, has peculiar habits or features, is very old or ugly, deformed or mentally challenged , some of the children will make fun of him or her. The children in­ Freilingen are more reserved, friendlier, and more considerate.They know that hard work can only be done with everyone’s cooperation, and that it does not matter how someone looks or what peculiarities there might be, as long as the person can lend a hand and is industrious. Maria enjoys working in the garden. She pushes the spade into the ground, turning the heavy clods, cut after cut.The earth smells fresh and rich.The raw wind tousles her hair.The chickens are looking for worms and grubs in the newly opened soil. Maria is sowing lettuce and a variety of vegetables. A man with a small cart pulled by a dog passes through the village, offering winter plants for sale. Of these, Maria is planting in the garden what Stories Main Pgs 1-258.indd 88 4/26/2017 12:17:37 PM The Stories They Told Me  89 will be ready to eat by June. For a few days, she regularly weeds and waters the small plants. She joins Mother in the fields, where, with their backs bent, they set potatoes in the furrows. Father laughs when Maria comes home aching in the evening, barely able to straighten up. He has spent the day spraying fertilizer from manure in wooden barrels on the meadows and turnip fields. On Saturdays, Maria sweeps the road in front of the yard with the big birch broom Father himself bound during the winter. Straw lies scattered around, horses and cows have left their dung. She sweeps a parquet pattern in the ground. All of the people in the village do. Spring is in the air—the skies are becoming brighter, and the buds are swelling. But, in between the spells of sunshine, there are often sudden heavy rainstorms and even snow. Sometimes, the nights are still frosty. It is a typical April, impetuous and unreliable, moody and full of surprises. For Easter, Mother boils the onion skins that she has collected all winter long in a basket by the cellar door. In the brown broth, a whole apron full of eggs are dyed golden yellow. Maria gets four of them for Easter. That is quite a lot. After Easter Mass, Maria watches the young men in front of the Lommersdorf church tapping their Easter eggs together. They make bets as to whose egg will crack first, who will win or lose. During the Easter vacation, Father tells Maria that for Whitsun she is to travel to Kohlscheid, to distant relatives, the Schmitzes. Father has written already to“Aunt” Schmitz. Seven weeks later, Aunt Schmitz picks up Maria from Mama Bunden’s. She is a capable housewife, and her husband “Uncle” Schmitz dresses every day as if for Sunday mass. They have two pretty daughters who catch on quickly to Maria’s voice and diction, and they are attentive and polite to her. Uncle Schmitz is a school principal, and he reads a lot at home. Maria has never before seen so many books. In his room, there are shelves from floor to ceiling, full of books, one next to the other. Carpets lie on the floor of every room. Maria helps Aunt Schmitz with the housework, weeds the garden behind...


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Subject Headings

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  • Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp.
  • Prisoners of war -- Cuba -- Guantánamo Bay Naval Base.
  • Afghan War, 2001- -- Prisoners and prisons, American.
  • War on Terrorism, 2001-2009.
  • Khan, Mahvish Rukhsana -- Diaries.
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