Letters best unopened

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I HAD long wanted to go through the family’s old letters; the debris of half-forgotten times.

If I had been reluctant to do so it was because Memory Lane is more emotionally potholed than a Latvian farm track.

Hesitantly, I paused before picking up a bundle of letters penned by my late father. Dad passed away in 2021 and my calendar marked today’s date as 2053.

He and my stepmother had lived their last days on Spain’s Mediterranean Riviera.

I preferred living in Paraguay as it has kept its old values; securities and anyway is far removed from geopolitical fault lines.

With heaving heart I read dad’s letters. The eternal optimist, his lines told of how good the weather was compared with the climate of his native England.

The happy until death couple enjoyed café society, the company of dear friends, and dad and his wife also travelled a fair bit.

Dad’s lines seemed to grin as he wrote about their having won the lottery of life. This pleased me greatly.

Having been born during the catastrophic Second World War he often told of an austerity that few can imagine.

Admittedly, all wasn’t well in Europe in 2018. In one letter I asked him about repression but his follow-up had dismissed my fears.

“As long as you keep your thoughts to yourself, which applies to everyone, especially the professionals, life is just an aquarium and we are content with our lot.”

His letters sometimes touched upon issues such as Europe being overrun by non-Europeans, a refugee crisis and a stand-off between Russia and the western powers.

Sardonically, he said that each NATO war turned the refugee taps on. Dad had expressed concern that the United States was in debt to the tune of $21 trillion.

The then euro was unstable and a number of EU states were unable to repay or refinance their government’s debts.

“Yes, there is a massive imbalance to the advantage of Russia and China. No longer self-sufficient we have lost our former supremacy. But, to be honest, son, it is all a bit over my head.”

Being something of a history buff I knew that in such circumstances war was always inevitable.

But, I kept my thoughts to myself. Why trouble my parents with what they didn’t wish to hear.

Then in 2018 the West had tried shooting its way out of the corner. Outgunned and outmanoeuvred the United States and the EU had been left desolate.

There were no rich pickings for the vultures that afterwards overran Europe. Placing the packet of letters back in their box I knew I shouldn’t have opened it in the first case.

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