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November 11, 1944

“Here she comes with her wee-wee can!” announced Catesy. Though he winked at me, he wrinkled his nose distastefully.

It was Mrs. Greenshoes stomping belligerently through the corridors with her Lactogen can. Every day, just as hundreds of us started to eat our lunch in the corridor, the huge double doors of the museum would swing violently forward, and Mrs. Greenshoes would emerge from her boudoir, carrying her Lactogen can filled with urine. No matter how ingeniously she disguised the open can by placing a discarded pechay leaf or a hibiscus flower on top, she could not disguise the stench of the concentrated urine that assaulted our olfactory nerves. Glares, murmurs of protest, and open threats had no effect on her. She and her swinging Lactogen can with its grisly contents were inseparable, and it had to be emptied when the corridor was the most crowded—precisely at lunch time.

How we hated that old woman for her selfishness, thoughtlessness, and lack of consideration for others! Why, that old girl was altogether without feelings!

Later in the afternoon, she stopped me in the corridor and gave me one of her poems to read, and because I didn’t want to seem rude, I read the stanzas impatiently and hurriedly. Then I read it the second and third time. There was a simplicity, a rhythmic cadence in the lines of her poetry, and the moving words flowed on like Gray’s “Elegy in a Country Churchyard.” Each stanza was a song, and each word beautifully expressed, conveying from birth until death man’s yearnings, ambitions, heartbreaks, and faith in a Supreme Being. She called her poem “To a Raindrop,” and I thought that her lines carried the same truth, beauty and philosophy that I had found in Walt Whitman’s works.

I saw this old woman in a new light. She was still a cranky old woman, thoughtless and selfish, but I tried to overlook her bad habits, and some of my animosity and intolerance toward her disappeared. When I thought of myself at eighty-two, I found myself wondering how I would have behaved in a boiler factory, while I slowly starved to death.

We had hoped that Armistice Day would bring back our beloved raiders, but we searched the skies in vain.

We had one, two, and sometimes more deaths every day. From now on, our death rate would increase.