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  • Henrique Murta

Letters from the War

The Great Emu War took place in Western Australia, in 1932, when approximately 20,000 Emus migrated to agricultural fields awarded to Australian World War I veterans. The farmers found their crops consistently ravaged by the enormous flightless birds, a worry that culminated in Major Gwynydd Purves Wynne-Aubrey leading the Australian army and its heavy artillery in a military offensive against the beastly creatures.

The Emus won with ease.

The following sequence of letters consists of some of the few surviving documents from that period, given that a significant number of them were destroyed by the victorious Emus, and in it lies the most detailed insight into the combatants’ spirit up to date. The people at play are Theresa Clotterfield and Harold Maplewood, two Queensland natives who were soon-to-wed at the time. Their thoughts read as follows:

‘Dear Theresa, how fare you?

It’s been many weeks since last I laid my gaze upon your starry eyes or felt the gentle warmth of your scarlet lips, and I must confess it haunts me day to night, and throughout the latter ‘till dawn just as much, if not more. These flightless monsters fight with such rage and passion that my courage fails at my knees anytime a sound arises that may resemble their quality; the couple times I’ve ventured into the battlefield to face them head-on have left me shellshocked. I await your correspondence, hoping to find comfort in its inked letters knowing they were traced by your hand with loving intent. 


- Your dear Harold.’


How dare you contact me in any form and regarding any matter that isn’t confined to the deepest of apologies? Well before you volunteered to go fight a number of grotesquely oversized poultry, I made it a point that you weren’t to make yourself present in my life anymore. Not until you apologise profusely for what you’ve done, at least.

- Your not-yours and also not-dear Theresa.’

‘Dear Theresa,

I have done so and apologised more than enough times. If I could undo what I’ve done, I most certainly would. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to go back in time and stop myself from accidentally squashing your award-winning pumpkin, but today is not that day. As I write, I see several Emus approaching our trenches from the distance. This might be our final correspondence. 

I love you still, I shall love you until the sun passes and forever longer, 

- Your dear Harold.’

‘Harold, you twat,

You know well that this rift between us comes not from a squashed pumpkin, but from your inappropriate antics towards my sister. I do well hope those Emus rip open your chest and feast on the emptiness that lies within, from where your cold heart long seized to exist. Do not contact me again.

- Theresa.’

‘Ms. Clotterfield,

I make my acquaintance in such impersonal means as written letters, and for that you receive my profuse apologies. My name is Tgalok, I am an Emu. Not just any Emu but indeed the leader of the rebellion, and upon reading the correspondence that was laid on the floor of the trenches we just conquered, I couldn’t help but feel the gravitas of your candour and elegance. Allow me the boldness of inviting you to tea once my companions and I are finished conquering Australia.

Respectfully, Tgalok the Emu.

Post-Scriptum: Your previous correspondent, Mr. Harold Maplewood, is dead.’

‘Dear Mr. Tgalok,

Colour me blushed by your direct approach, and intrigued by the ways of the Emus. How interesting it is that you read and write, and how marvellous it is that you’ve terminated Harold. Consider your invitation to tea duly accepted, I shall await your feathery figure eagerly in Brisbane, Queensland.


- Soon to be yours, Theresa.’

The letters seem to end as such. It would be a disappointing end for any soul curious about the outcome of Ms. Clotterfiled’s romance with an Emu, if it weren’t for a photograph taken three years after the war, in which we see Theresa happily married to Tgalok. 

Hence, history proves once more that love knows no borders.

Editado por: Inês Cândido

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