Friday, January 02, 2009

Friday 12th March 1943

Hamad, giving further instructions on Arabic customs: “Durzi – no good. Scommen one Jew, Durzi say “I am Jew.” Scommen one Mussulman, Durzi say “I am Mussulman.” Scommen one Christian, Durzi say “I am Christian.” All Durzi liar. No Mohammed, no God, no Allah.” “You marry Durzi woman?” “I shoot myself. Christian woman, Jew woman, never mind. Durzi woman, no.” We learn, we learn! But how do I know a Durzi when I see one?

Had a talk with the silent RAMC man who is in the next bed to the suspected Regular. He seemed terribly anxious to talk about himself and his feelings of “guilt” and “failure”. Actually his trouble is rather the same as mine in origin – he didn't like his work, couldn't find the right slot, and began to worry about it. He's much worse than me now because he's wrapped up in his troubles and nothing else interests him. Also, he has no sense of humour; when most of us are laughing at Ghandi's, or Jock's antics, Chadwick will be gazing at them with an utterly different expression – a look of stupefied shame – while he thinks, “What a fool I've been. And this is where it's got me. I'm ashamed to be here. I shouldn't be wearing this blue suit. I'm a failure.”

Gazing miserably around all day. “If only I could do something to take my mind off it. But I can't concentrate on a book, can't do anything. As soon as I wake up in the morning, I begin to think what a mess I've made of things. And my mother – this'll break her heart... I've always been given to worrying. Even at school, I got worried by exams and drank a spoonful of iodine... when I was a child. I wonder if I shall ever see home again... I've ruined my life...” And so on.

Ed Din is always in trouble. With an injured and anxious expression he listens to a flood of emphatic English from a member of the staff says, “Yes,” “No,” “Sorry, please” and what not. “Well, just you remember, next time,” says the disciplinarian sternly. When he's gone, poor Ed Din turns to Hamad or myself and exclaims, “Ana mush arif! What he say?”

Just now, Ed Din filed towards the door where he was halted by an orderly. “Where are you going, old man?” “Me go ward of friend.” “Ed Din, old man, I hate to be harsh, but if you put one foot outside this doorway, I'll personally plaster you all over the desert. OK old man? OK?” and Ed Din returned bedwards, very worried, a sadly misjudged man.

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