From Touko’s letter to Hely and his family, 18 February 1942

18 February ‘42

Dear Heikkä,

Please read the first couple of sheets by yourself. 

What wonderful weather! The sky is blue, the trees and the ground are white and the eaves of the dugout are dripping clear drops. It really is a shame to be sitting indoors. But where would I go?

Thanks for your extremely long letter. It was good fun reading such a long letter, which was so full of joy while also being so serious and sensible. As I was reading it, I realised how much we’ve changed over the past few years and how we’ve grown up.

Well, I’ll get to the point. I’ve no idea what the object of Penu’s admiration is like, but I still think it’s just a crush. I hope he’ll have the sense to consider the matter in a sensible way. Unfortunately, however, that would be against his nature. I don’t think we could have prevented him from getting married; he’s always been very stubborn and bull-headed in that when he gets an idea, he’ll carry it through no matter what. He should live in America. Then his behaviour would be normal and his characteristics would fit in. All this would mean nothing over there. Well, we’ve chewed on this matter for long enough, let’s leave it in the lap of the gods.  

You know, I’m so extremely happy because you are happy. Maybe M. is the right one, after all, because he has such a strong impact on your life and emotions. I feel exactly the same as you do in happy moments, I’d like to express my joy with a song. A Hungarian song, preferably. Perhaps it’s the shared blood that makes me think that a heart full to the brim with emotions is best unloaded by a Hungarian song, which is either sadly melancholic or cracklingly happy, just as Marta Eggert sings them. When she sings ‘the Gypsy Princess’, it’s something huge and sincere, and just hearing it was almost cathartic. I wonder what happened to that poor woman. I wonder if she has been deported by Germany because she’s Jewish, as you never hear her on the radio now, nor is she in films or anywhere else.

One of the biggest dreams of my life has been, and still is, to be able to sing perfectly, to be able to hit high notes and low notes in the way I could when I was younger.

I, too, would like to confide in you the way you confide in me. Although I don’t have a sweetheart, I have had one. I was only a kid and I didn’t think, understand or feel like an adult would. She went to the same school as we did – Salme Saarinen from Kaija’s year. I always felt strange when I saw her, it was different from what I felt towards other girls that I’ve had a crush on. I wouldn’t have given the whole thing a second thought if it wasn’t for the fact that now, when I think about our school years, I have a yearning, silly me. We didn’t have much to do with each other, she showed no great affection, perhaps a respectful admiration for someone who was older, who “lowered himself” to ask some younger girls to dance at a school party, and who danced more with her than with the others. And we haven’t been in touch with each other since school. Perhaps this school-boy confession sounds awfully naive to you, but I still wanted to share these thoughts with you. I’ve got to know many girls here: the Pesola girls, Vappu, who looks like Anni Rasi, “Mirri” and “Sissi” in Jyväskylä, I’ve spent a lot of time with Elvi and Inkku, and I just got to know professor Sauramo’s daughter, who is on kitchen duty and is terribly nice. I’ve met two Kirstis, Jokela and Virtanen, but I haven’t felt that any one of them was someone I’d want to be seeing. Elvi is a very nice girl, though. I can talk about serious things with her, which I couldn’t do with the others as they just flirt. Maybe one day I’ll meet the one, who won’t be Salme Saarinen or anyone else I know. I’m not too concerned. But what worries me is that I will become lonely when our trio eventually and inevitably breaks up. That’s why it would be nice to have someone to be with and who would stay. 

I say, I’ve been talking silly quite a lot. I’m going to town again now. I’m going to buy some new notes and I’ll tell you tomorrow what I found. Back in a while.

You can read this aloud.

19 February I’ve too many official tasks on my plate. Writing all sorts of letters takes time, and I have to call Suomenlinna so constantly that the people at the headquarters think it’s funny. And I gave a lecture on the war situation. I can sometimes almost get excited over that as the brigade sends me maps and other materials that clarify things. I get an urge to explain the facts to the men who keep on about how important it is to fight this war and move the border further; I show them how the Russians have built a railway here and an airbase there, and similar things.

I splashed some cash yesterday: I had a haircut, bought a new strap for my watch as the old one broke, and I bought some sheet music. Unfortunately the latter was almost the same price as it is new, even though it was from a second-hand shop. There were loads of good pieces, everything was well sorted and I could browse and grab piles of them. This time I only bought Sibelius’ Valse triste, which is not the same on the piano as with an orchestra, I mean not as smooth, and two arias, one from Butterfly, the one in which she waits for the man that eventually ascends to high G and is otherwise quite low in pitch, and Mimi’s aria from La Bohème which Martha sang in that film as well. Do you remember how they used have parties, and Martha would sing and take a deep curtsey at the end, and Renée would be overjoyed? It’s wonderful, as authentic an opera as can be, and not very difficult but quite a high pitch. A few times it goes to high A. But that’s nothing for you, just let it all out, and it’ll be fine. I’m dying to practice it with you. It’ll be super nice. And when we get it right, imagine how great it will be. Then we’ll have an operatic soirée. I’d love to come home, I don’t know why, but I’m really homesick. And I miss your company. It would be so nice to be in town if I had a lot of acquaintances. But you know what would be wonderful? If you could come, and Kaija too, to Helsinki for a while next spring. We could have a great time as it wouldn’t be so cold. You could bring your bikes and we could ride on these lovely tarmac roads.

Some visions for the future. Bye for now and stay well. 

Touko

PS How did the photos come out?