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an extract from The Mathematics of LoveThe Mathematics Of Love

   The Mathematics of Love
Time and again, as I sat shivering with fever by the fire, or gazed over barren fields or down muddy lanes, or saw the same dull, good-natured faces sitting about some dinner table, or ranked in Church with their scrubbed and fidgeting children about them, my memories of Spain came before my mind. It was not the Spain of dusty olive groves that I saw, where bare mountains rear up in air that trembles with the weight of its own heat, nor the Spain of black monks and gold-encrusted toreadors and ladies tossing flowers. No, it was not Wellington's Spain at all. Rather I thought of the small, comfortable smells and noises of my life in San Sebastian after the War: the tarry, salty scent of ships and wharves, the chatter of the girls as they washed and dressed and compared the night's takings, the cry of a water-carrier in the street, a hundred church bells tolling high and low for the Mass, a whining beggar, the squawk of seagulls and the flap of clean, wet washing in the sea wind. But I would not go back to San Sebastian. That time was past, and besides, only the simplest of its recollected sounds and smells were innocent: the place as a whole carried for me all the pain that I would not allow my memories of Bera to bear.

No, I would not go back to Spain. But I could seek out those same comfortable things elsewhere: the faces of travellers; printshops, jewellers and coffee houses; hawkers crying ribbons and ballads and hot pies; constables and lamp-lighters; the clatter of foreign tongues; the rattle of coaches on paved streets; the converse with men that knew the world and women that did not shrink from it. These things I longed for, I realised slowly as Spring crept over my acres, as a banished man longs for the food of his homeland, and even the welfare of that land which I must now call home could not weigh more heavily, than my yearning for that former life.

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