Fiction in response to Clean Water and Sanitation
June 2018

Dear Mummy

By Grace Muresan
CC Image Courtesy of manhhai

Week 1

 

Dear Mummy,

I hope you and Eliza are safe on the home front. I would like to say that I am fine here, but things are rough. The water is muddy and rotten, and we don’t have a snip of clean cloth to filter it. Only in a few camps can we boil the water, and many of our men are dying. Yesterday Will and John died of dysentery. They were my mates, and I’ll say, dysentery kills more men than fighting. I asked the doctor what dysentery is. He said that germs and little worms get into our dirty food and water and when we eat, they get into our body! They hijack our systems, making us vomit and defecate blood. After I heard that, I wanted to go home. If you send a letter back, please put a piece of cloth in the envelope. Anyway, drink good clean water, and don’t get dysentery. Love you, Mum!

 

Love,

Charles

 

Week 2

 

Dear Mummy,

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we’re digging trenches. They’re filled with lice and dead and live men. By the way, thanks for the cloth. The men around me are dropping dead, but I’m okay so far, knock on wood. Today, I learned of a new disease. It’s called cholera. The doctor in my current camp decided that he would give us little lectures on disease every week or so. Anyway, cholera goes in water and food to get to your body. It is more powerful in water because water dilutes your stomach acid, which could kill the germ. You get lots of diarrhea, then your face turns blue and you die in a few hours. I really, really want to come home. Anyway, you and Eliza stay safe. Don’t get cholera!

 

Love,

Charles

 

Week 3

Dear Mummy,

My regiment is having a rough time. As we dig the trenches, we get shot at, and the really cruel enemies throw shells and buckets of mud over here. Not a snip of clean water! Alcohol is banned, coffee is probably just dirt, and the juice and ‘lemonade’ reminds me of the time I stirred my coffee with four spoonful of salt, thinking it was sugar, then sipped it. Disgusting. However, the men who drink the ‘lemonade’ don’t get dysentery. The doctor says the chemicals in the ‘lemonade’ kill germs. Today he told us of typhoid. You sick up a lot, and have diarrhea, and it is very infectious. Anyway, I hope your conditions are better than mine. Stay safe, and way from people with typhoid.

 

Love,

Charles

 

Week 4

Dear Mummy,

I am getting the doctor to write this for me as I’m in the camp hospital bed. I’ve been shot! Clean through my side! Since I’m bedridden, the doctor is telling me of all kinds of diseases from all time periods. A disease that interests me is polio. I learned that the American President Franklin D. Roosevelt had polio. Polio is very infectious through a victim, but the actual virus can infect through water. According to the doctor, polio has been around awhile, and since the 1700s, many epidemics in America and Great Britain have occurred. However, polio may date back to around 1400 BC. When you have polio, you get flu-like symptoms and you can also get paralyzed. Anyway, I’ll come home in a few weeks, so don’t bother with a letter back, unless something is really important. Love you, Mum and Eliza!

 

Love,

Charles

 

Week 5

Dear Charles,

This is Eliza. I’m sorry you were shot, and I hope you’re okay. Unfortunately, I have some bad news. They day before yesterday, mummy got sick with cholera. The water we took from the neighborhood well was infected with it. Today, she died. Please come home soon enough for her funeral, and be safe.

 

Love,

Eliza

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