Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder?

The prolonged, untimed absence of someone produces fierce loyalism and devotion. Now, the distance can not be minimized, but its effects can be decreased through communication and a strong link to home. In a previous post I wrote of the video-calls that are facilitated for persons in Guantanamo Bay, and how imperative they have become to the morale of the detainees. The link home can come in various forms: most modernly communication has moved to the digital form — e-mails, facebook messages, and video-chat conversations are frequent methods of keeping in touch with individuals who are apart. Traditional letters are still mediums to pen thoughts, too, although they may not be the chosen method anymore.

We are currently reading the book “Since You Went Away,” a compilation of  letters from women to their soldiers overseas written during WWII. It is an interesting read because most of the letters from the homefront are similar in the fashion they are written and in the words which are inscribed. The women write of love, hope, longing, loneliness, and of their devotion to their boyfriend, fiance, or husband in uniform. It is blatantly obvious that they are loyal beyond conceivable thought, for they write often, sometimes as frequently as more than one note a day. I could choose any number of excerpts of affection from any number of women who were missing their loved one, but I choose one from a woman, Flora, because I feel her language leaves nothing to the imagination for how she feels about her “darling:”

“Dearest Darling, I am so unebelievably happy, when I think about how close you are and everything, I just don’t really seem able to take it in – oh darling, darling, I love you, love you” (p. 114).”

Absence makes the heart grow fonder? I would say, absolutely yes.

Fast forward to the present and again, Africa.

Forced disappearances are becoming an issue in many areas, but most certainly in Africa. In Zimbabwe, Jestina Mukoko, who heads Zimbabwe Peace Project, a human rights organization, was abducted last year, around this time, and subjected to torture on the grounds that she was trafficking persons from Botswana, unconstitutionally. The Zimbabwe Supreme Court rules in her favor and she was freed, but she says letters, cards, calls and good wishes “give them [human rights activists] hope for another day.” This may be a bit far-fetched to connect this to WWII letters, but the common ground is found in the hope a tie of communication, like a letter, an e-mail, or a card can hold.


The families of those who are taken by forced disappearance, are forced to keep faith, loyality, and devotion that their loved one will return. They have no letters. They have no connection. This shows just how impacting a letter, or note can, in fact, be.

Amnesty International


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