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Those Days - A true short story

In those days, for these days, you know, those days, when ... When were ‘those days.’ Were ‘these days’ the same days as ‘my days.’ Or were your ‘days’ before my time.

The concept of ‘in those days’ comes to me in the story told by my mother-in-law. While talking, she pauses every now and then to give the listener the opportunity to nod in agreement. Not to ask questions or to take over the conversation. The interruptions are too short for that. It is no more than a brief eye contact, instead of a verbal break, with a point at the end of the sentence, and then a pause before the new sentence starts with a capital letter at the beginning of a new line.

No, when my mother-in-law tells a story, she will tell it from start to finish. With her own sense of detail and punctuality, her descriptions take far longer than the retold event itself. Hereby, she does not want to be interrupted but, she does require a consenting attitude from her audience.

I know that soon the moment will come when also my consenting; ‘yes, I understand, you’re right, yes I agree’ nod is expected. I try as quickly as possible to understand what the story is about. It's about “then,’ in ‘those days.’ But, because my mother-in-law and I did not grow up together, it certainly is not about ‘our days.’

This is her moment. In her own tempo she tells, without mentioning a year or date, with which every listener would be able to easily parallel what was told to their own age and life and thus make it possible to connect with the story. No, in that respect, the assignment is more like a cross-word puzzle, some kind of logi-quiz.

There are clues in the story; -prior to the divorce, -Haarlem, -before moving to the municipality of Brabant. Fortunately, I have some prior knowledge, I date her son.

This brings me to the year 1978. I was eleven.

I nod in agreement. Yes, that were expensive times then, in ‘those days’.

In memory of my mother-in-law Olga de Kock 1948 - 2017

See the epilogue >

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