Just before Christmas, I receive two letters. One from my mamma, dated 26th of August, and one from my sister Pistro, dated 23rd of July. A rush of emotion engulfs me as I look at the crumpled envelopes that have been opened before they have been handed over to me. Obviously the contents have already been read. A small burst of anger shoots through my system, but I shrug it off. I am just relieved that my family is still alive, even though they mention hunger and blackouts in Torino.
‘We really cannot complain,’ I say to my counterparts on Christmas Day. We are sitting in the mess room and opening up little parcels that have been circulated by La Croce Rossa, the Red Cross, in honour of the festivities. And at mass, we are told that this is the biggest attendance than ever before. It is not surprising, as at present, there are sixty-three thousand people in the camp. I don’t know how they manage to coordinate everyone. In fact, one of the English sergeants lets slip that one could lose a prisoner on the twenty-four miles of road that winds around the internal camp site. ‘It would take us days to find him if he was determined to hide.’ I store this information for future reference.
What good spirits we are in when listening to the radio. Il messaggio di Natale, the Christmas message, is read out from the Pope. For just a few minutes, home is not so far away. The dulcet tones and Catholic traditional blessings fills me with warmth and comfort. For just a little while, I am transported from my stark and regimented surrounds.
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