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187 43 Spring is twice as enchanting when one is in love! The reawakening of­ nature, the unfolding of new life all around corresponds exactly with­ Maria’s feelings of being alive and in love. They are like the expression of her new emotions. It is wonderful to sit with Wilhelm and drink coffee at the Rögerts’ house on Sundays. It is as if she has invited him to her own house. She serves him coffee, passes him milk and sugar, puts a piece of fruit flan on his plate, and enjoys him watching her clean up afterwards. When there is a spring shower, they place their chairs next to the window and sign silently to each other. The Rögert sisters leave the two young people in peace. In good weather, they walk along all the routes Maria remembers from her school days. Wilhelm shows Maria what has changed in Aachen since she was in school. For instance, the Kaiser Friedrich Park is new to her. They like going to the valley below the wooded hills, into which the park with its little artificial pond is located. On the pond, there are rowboats for hire. But Maria never goes boating; she is afraid of water. She would rather watch the swans and ducks from the safety of a bench. The couple walk out of the park, past fields and a grassy slope, where the Kannegiesser Brook winds through the meadows. Hay meadows and patches of clover have been mown. The trunks of the little fruit trees bear a fresh white chalk covering to protect them from the sun; cut-off branches and twigs lie piled up next to them. Maria and Wilhelm come to the Grundhaus Inn on the main Liège road.The inn lies secluded at the edge of the forest. Here, they drink coffee at garden tables beneath the trees, or they cross the road and take a path through the fields along the woods to van Halfern Park. The broad, wellkept lawns are dotted with white daisies. Many little paths crisscross the grassy hillocks, and strange trees from foreign countries grow singly or in Stories Main Pgs 1-258.indd 187 4/26/2017 12:17:42 PM 188 Maria Wallisfurth groups. On a bench among blossoming shrubs, they can talk undisturbed. The sun warms them, and the earth at their feet smells of spring. Wilhelm has a lot to tell and is glad to have found an attentive observer in Maria. Maria realizes that Wilhelm has not mastered the German language as well as most deaf people. His vocabulary is much smaller, yet his signing is very clear. He tells whole stories in just a few words using signs, facial expressions, and movements. He even describes some events only with gestures. Can she not express herself much better than he, even though her speech is not as good as it used to be? Still, Maria can understand Wilhelm well and is surprised at how much he knows. Maria asks question after question. She wants to know what happened during the ten years she was living in her village. Wilhelm is constantly surprised by Maria’s questions. Is she so stupid? No, she is not stupid, but in a way, she is. All she knows is that the war is over and the emperor is gone. She does not know that there was a revolution in Germany on 9 November 1918, just before the armistice. Germany had lost the war; the soldiers were tired of fighting, the emperor fled to Holland, and a new republic was established. Toward the end of the war, many people in Germany suffered from lack of food.Wilhelm would eat rutabaga without potatoes at home. Mother cut one slice of bread for each child every day, and all the children stood around her, making sure that every slice was the same size. During the Allied occupation, there was a curfew at night. Wilhelm’s father carried a permit when he went to the small powerhouse next door to switch off the street lighting. Rashly, Wilhelm followed him once. The military patrol stopped him. Father in his wooden clogs and Wilhelm in his slippers were taken in and locked up in the mayor’s office overnight. For two weeks, Wilhelm worked for distant relatives of his mother in Krauthausen near Jülich. His youngest brother Heinrich helped him paint their house. They were fed well and, after finishing work, given...


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Subject Headings

  • Prisoners of war -- United States.
  • 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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