Touko’s letter to Hely, 14 March 1945

Helsinki, 14 March ‘45

Dear Sophie,

It’s Wednesday and twelve o’clock. I’m going to my class at one; as I’ve a few moments to spare, I’ll start writing this now. I just got a letter from my father, please thank him for it.

It was really nice to have so many guests at Eetvini’s party, it was like the old times. It would also be nice if you could have so many voices in the Kulkunens that you could sing regularly.

Well, I did have something I wanted to ask you: could you please send my April ration card for milk here? I could buy cheese with it, which would be a lovely and useful addition to butter until Easter. I could buy marmalade with the fish card, but they won’t sell it to me here with my card, which is stamped in Turku, and getting the card stamped here is desperately complicated as I’d need to have some kind of certificate from the caretaker or the property manager or a housing board or I don’t know from where. I tried this measure, but the offices were so weird and wonderful that after I failed to get it done, I just decided to give up and use the cards in Turku. Kaija and I will be over in two weeks’ time. I just bought the tickets, i.e. a lot of tickets, because we’ll be going to the Ateneum and the Sibelius Academy, everyone from Turku, and we’ll have such a fun trip.

Last Sunday Kaija and I used Maija’s sled to fetch in my music cabinet from the island. It was an absolutely wonderful day. The sun was shining brightly, and the sea and all of nature was shrouded in glittery snow. My cabinet had been stored at an official’s house, and it had been well taken care of. And then we climbed to my former battery site to see the view. We climbed into the lookout tower, which had great views over the infinite sea, and then we went to my old command tent after first digging out the door from under the thick snow. It was in good conditions and untouched, and Kaija was genuinely impressed by its cosiness and the views, and for good reason, because it was quite comfortable, after all. I was a bit sad because the place was in quite good order and nothing had been touched, and yet it isn’t used for anything anymore. We thought about what fun it would be to ski there, to bring picnic things with us and make ersatz coffee on the stove in the little cabin, since there was some firewood left over from last summer in the corner of the hall. One could comfortably spend a whole day there sunbathing and enjoying the beauty of the surroundings. I was sad and overwhelmed by old memories from the time that I wish and I don’t wish to come back, and we pulled and pushed the sled across the ice towards the town. And now my music cabinet is so handsome, standing next to the wall. But boy, we were hungry when we returned from the trip.

I need to go to class now, I’ll continue when I return.

Hello again. I came to Stockmann’s writing room from class, since Mainio has a pupil at our home. It’s fun to sit here and write for a change.

What was I going to tell you? Yesterday we gathered at one of the girl’s places to play and sing. The girl had baked all sorts of delicacies, which we had with ersatz coffee while having a lively chat and even bursting into song every so often. She has a lovely voice and is, indeed, almost ready to be a professional singer. She’s a really nice girl. We had a great time, perhaps a bit too loud as we joined the chorus. Later in the evening, our choir director Tapani Heiskanen, who is a genius and also has perfect pitch and a really innate gift for music, had a flash of inspiration. We sat in the twilight, comfortable on the sofa, on a chair or on the floor, when this genius began to improvise. He played gentle atmospheric poetic tunes on the piano, a long chain of moonlit motifs that we listened to, holding our breath. This may sound odd to a bystander, but we really did enter a great space of art somewhere beyond a hazy distance. That’s when my Mami came close to me; I felt her close to me. All of a sudden, as if triggered by a sympathy of souls, he started to play the song “Mother’s Eyes”. I haven’t really liked it when I’ve heard Hagelstam singing it on the radio, but at that moment I understood the beauty of the melody, and the peaceful pianissimo gave me a memory that is one of the richest and brightest experiences in my life. In that emotional atmosphere, I felt that I had reached the heart and soul of music.

So the evening went on until midnight, and I didn’t get home until 1 o’clock. Please don’t get upset now but I was a bit annoyed by the bluntness that Mainio greeted me with, “you’re home so late again”, though the last time I came home after midnight was when I’d been at our annual party. Don’t say anything to him. I wouldn’t like that. Funny that I even wrote this to end the letter. I’m running out of paper. Bye for now. Best regards, Touko