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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Blog: Shame

Vieraskieliset / In-english
29.6.2021 16.30

Juttua muokattu:

29.6. 16:27

On the 7th of Sep­tem­ber 1986, the cas­ket of Ur­ho Kek­ko­nen, who had been Pre­si­dent of Fin­land for a qu­ar­ter of a cen­tu­ry, was brought in­to Hel­sin­ki Cat­hed­ral. Af­ter the fu­ne­ral ser­vi­ce, eight lie­u­te­nant-ge­ne­rals car­ried the cas­ket in­to a he­ar­se and wal­ked by the side of the he­ar­se as far as the Hie­ta­nie­mi Ce­me­te­ry. All church bel­ls of Hel­sin­ki rang throug­hout the jour­ney. All Fin­ns see­med to share the grief for his pas­sing. I lis­te­ned to the ce­re­mo­ny bro­ad­cast on the ra­dio, watc­hing the lar­ge ro­wan tree that had tur­ned red out­si­de my win­dow. Flags were flying at half-mast.

Soon af­ter the ra­dio bro­ad­cast, an el­der­ly be­lie­ving lady came to vi­sit. I be­gan to desc­ri­be the fu­ne­ral ce­re­mo­ny to her. I prac­ti­cal­ly drow­ned her in my per­so­nal fee­lings of grief and nos­tal­gia. I went on and on with my mo­no­lo­gue! Sud­den­ly, that sis­ter said in a qui­et voi­ce that her son had re­cent­ly died. If I had known about that, I would na­tu­ral­ly have be­ha­ved dif­fe­rent­ly. Even so, I felt my­self the most tact­less per­son in the world.

Whe­ne­ver I think back to that vi­sit, I re­mem­ber the short story tit­led Grief by An­ton Tchek­hov. The wri­ter has sub­tit­led the story as Who could I tell about my grief. Jona, a poor co­ach­man, is wai­ting for cus­to­mers in the eve­ning dusk. It is sno­wing, and both the hor­se and the man are crus­ted by a la­yer of snow. Fi­nal­ly, an ar­ro­gant of­fi­cer co­mes for a ride. The pas­sers-by grumb­le and cri­ti­ci­ze the co­ach­man and his hor­se. When they fall si­lent for a while, Jona says, ”You know, Mis­ter,… my son died this week…”

”Hrmh...Well, what was wrong with him?” The tra­ve­ler clo­ses his ey­es and does not seem at all wil­ling to lis­ten. The con­ver­sa­ti­on dies down be­fo­re it has pro­per­ly be­gun.

The next cus­to­mers are three yo­ung men who are cur­sing and ma­king a rac­ket. As soon as they calm down a lit­t­le, Jona brief­ly looks over his shoul­der and mut­ters, “You know… my son… he died this week.”

”We all die some day," one of the men sighs ha­ving re­co­ve­red from a fit of coug­hing.

Jona sur­ren­ders him­self to his grief and turns his hor­se to­ward his home. On­ce at home, he sits down to rest in front of the big brick oven. The room is full of pe­op­le slee­ping on the benc­hes, on the floor, and even on top of the oven. One yo­ung co­ach­man wa­kes and gets up for a drink of wa­ter. Jona tries one more time, “You know, my chap, my son died… Have you he­ard? This week in the hos­pi­tal… such a sad thing!” The yo­ung man draws the blan­ket over his head and fal­ls as­leep.

Jona gets dres­sed and goes in­to the stab­le. He be­gins to tell his hor­se about the de­ath of his son. The hor­se keeps chom­ping on hay, lis­te­ning to its mas­ter and bre­at­hing warm­ly in­to his hands. The story ends with these words: “And Jona is hap­py to tell the hor­se eve­ryt­hing.”

Ear­lier in the story Tchek­hov desc­ri­bes Jona’s thoughts like this: ”Al­most a week has pas­sed sin­ce his son’s de­ath, but he has not been ab­le to dis­cuss it pro­per­ly with any­bo­dy… He should be ab­le to speak se­ri­ous­ly and un­hur­ried­ly… he should be ab­le to tell them about it… He would have such a lot to say…”

When I re­mem­ber the vi­sit of that el­der­ly sis­ter, I feel as­ha­med that, over­co­me by my own imp­res­si­ons and emo­ti­ons, I was unab­le to pau­se and lis­ten to her story.

Dear Sa­vi­or, te­ach me to lis­ten, so that ot­her pe­op­le could tell me about their con­cerns ”se­ri­ous­ly and un­hur­ried­ly”, so slow­ly and qui­et­ly and for as long as they feel they want.

Text: Tuu­la Stång

Trans­la­ti­on: Sirk­ka-Lii­sa Lei­no­nen


Hän loistaa valona, hän säteilee kirkkautta, hohde verhoaa hänen suuren voimansa. Hab. 3:4

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