Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Now I'd like to listen again

My granny had two large books.
Like I said, she never read anything, but these were full of old landscape photos toned in sepia.
I learned to read before I was four years old, because she borrowed enormous piles of books from the library, just for me.
I remember how we sat together at the kitchen table. She used to look at the pictures in her books whilst I read mine. After that she stared at something invisible through the window.
Sometimes I noticed she was biting her lips, but she never cried.

She showed me some pictures and I didn't quite understand her, but I loved her stories.
She told about the sea and the ships my ancestors built and sailed with.
She told me how she played with her friends on the beach and later listened to her gramophone under the birches.
I laughed at the funny sounding names of her friends, Julius, Hugo, Hermann, and she looked at me strictly and bit her lips again.


She told me about the artists passing by the village, heading to Terijoki.
She told me about the funny, peculiar villagers.
She told me thrilling stories, like how she accidentally found the smugglers bottles or quite boring stories of how she had to work as a child in the fields.
She told me about the excitement when she moved to Vyborg, the biggest city she knew.
She told me about the cafe she worked in. She told me what she wore when she had her first dance with a soldier. She described the music the orchestras played in the Monrepos park, so well, that I almost could smell the scent of the roses.

I always wondered why she had left all that. The house on the beach, horses on the fields, white tablecloths drying in the wind, her brothers playing
their accordions under the giant lilac bushes.
Why should anyone leave the eternal summer?

When I was older she told me why.
She told me about the coldest winter she had seen. The quite sudden order to leave. The voices of the planes flying too close.
She told about the animals left without care and the photographs burning inside the houses.
She told me how my mother was born in the train and she had no clothes for the baby.

But I didn't listen to her anymore. I was too old to sit with her in the kitchen, listening to the same old stories.
They had told us about the war in the school anyway.

5 comments:

occasional poster of comments said...

I think my parents may find themselves doing a lot of reminiscing the next time I see them.

taigathefox said...

Leave the toaster home, just in case.




(Sorry, I just couldn't resist. Nice pottery in Not 4'33" by the way.)

occasional poster of comments said...

You know, I did wonder if that comment would remind you of toasters, but I just couldn't come up with a good synonym for reminiscing...

Well, anyway. It was a very beautiful post.


(Your comment on Not 4'33" was worth reflecting on as well :)

Dave said...

I have read so much history (and even some about Finland) but in recent years it's been things like the death of individuals that has affected me most - what might that life, cut short, have achieved?

So when I read about hundreds, thousands, millions of deaths nowadays I feel even more the tragedy of war.

I suppose it's about empathy.

So I'm now crying about this story.

Please post something silly.

taigathefox said...

Dave, I'm sorry. This isn't the normal thing for me to do, but there's a reason for all of this.
(Or maybe not.)

Shut your eyes. One to go, then back to silliness.