Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hard days

Tarragona, 2nd August 1713

The first days of Mireia's family in Tarragona were really hard. The city was literally crowded with hundreds of people from the sorrounding countryside seeking refuge behind the old city's imposing Roman walls -which perhaps were not the most suitable for modern warfare, but conveyed a sense of timeless solidity that inspired some instinctive confidence, and that's what most of all that terrified people were looking for.

So crowded was Tarragona due to war, that no place had been left unoccupied in every inn, tavern or hostel. Besides, most of the city residents that could rent a room had already done it, so the three women had to spend a couple of nights sleeping on the street like many other refugees, until they had an opportunity to hire (for a comparatively exorbitant price) a small hovel, composed of a poorly ventilated single room that could barely fit them three.

Alongside with a roof, it also came soon a desperate search for some means of subsistence. Thanks to their fame as well-known healers, the elder women soon had lots of work concealing those diseases most common among refugees, but such occupation would report to them no more than a few copper coins: empoverished as people had become by war, most of the times their fees had to be earned in humble species: a rice bowl or sugar cup, a few pieces of fruit, a bag of lentils and so. They would never complain for this, because it meant avoiding starvation; but they suffered from some hunger anyway -specially the young Mireia who, slim as she already was, had literally no fat reserves to bear such privations.

Even more than being permanently hungry, the oppresive feeling of being enclaustrated among compressed buildings, behind inexpugnable walls, got Mireia deeply depressed, so that she was often seen aimlessly wandering across the downtown narrow winding streets. Her daughter's solitary behaviour finally alarmed Blanca who was frightened at the possibility of any misfortune -of that kind expectable to any forsaken beautiful girl in a city crowded and plentiful of bored soldiers: and Mireia was for sure that kind of girl who involuntarily attracted passing glances wherever she went. Fortunately, Mireia had wisely restricted her walkabouts to daylight hours and frequented places so far; nevertheless, Blanca strongly committed herself to seriously talk to her daughter the next day.


David said...

That vividly evokes the fate of many civilians in war; and it's probably not mentioned enough in the military histories!



Bluebear Jeff said...


-- Jeff