The Frozen Lake, The Everything, The Everything
I once asked Mamma what was her favourite place on earth. Her answer was simple: Vessö.
From 2008, I have been visiting the southern coast of Finland for the past nine years. There I turned twenty of age. I was staying with a Finnish family in a town named Porvoo, or Borgå; rather, in Swedish (‘Borg’ means Castle, ‘Å’ means River; Castle by the River.) Myself, as a Kaurismäki fan, obsessed with all the melancholic Nordic scene (e.g. Lights in the Dusk (2006) ) where an alcoholic man, sitting at the corner of a bar, drinking alone. Then the old Finnish tango (99% of the time it ends with the same minor chords) proceed playing. The camera was static and still, no tracking, no panning out. Just there, the type of depressing notes the land of a thousand suicides. (Further on I encountered the exact same scene on a boat from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia)
The family I stayed with are Swedish-speaking Finns (There are 5.4% of them in Finland.) Therefore, during my time, I was learning Swedish as well as Finnish. Also, I spent a great deal of time in the countryside of Finland, called Vessö both in the winter and summer. There I encountered kindness of people – Marianne, the mamma of the Green's family; has played a very special part of my upbringing.
Marianne, the mamma of the family, she was a former Swedish teacher in a local primary school. Now she spends her time travelling to Spain, learning Spanish. As well as hugely involved with the charity of helping refugee to settle in Finland.
Egil, ‘the weatherman’, he was a former cultural editor for the Local newspaper Borgåbladet. Now retired, he spent his time documenting the weather every day. He also writes a blog about the weather. We are very similar to me in many ways (both slightly compulsive obsessive, borderline 'control freak') He has been documenting the weather (i.e. The time of Sunset/Sunrise, the max/min temperature of the day) over the past 50 years. Previously, I have made some artwork on his interest and archive.
...belongs to the first super 8 films that I made when I first came to Finland. I borrowed Lotta’s mannequin – she’s a little girl with no arms. Slightly eerie yet vulnerable – Lotta was there to protect her, from the total darkness; keep her away from the filth of the world. There, she drifted back and forth, like the naked birches breathing through its spectacles. During my youth I have travelled to a lot of beautiful places, I have seen the Icelandic Glaciers and Geysir, Norwegian Fjords, Austrian snow and Cambodian Islands. But nothing compares with the solace that Vessö brought me.
...belongs to the hammock that Lotta brought from South America. Manda, the family’s former dog, was still around. Throwing at log out to the water, she ran and jumped into the water as in an emergency. Life is so simple when you are with a dog – because the log’s whereabouts becomes the most important thing in your life.
In the summer, we stayed at the summerhouse. One of my fondest memories is we would boost up the wooden sauna up to 80°C and jumped into the water which was merely 18°C. It was my first time I have experienced open sea swimming - the water was not so fun. It was cold and worrying.
Tove Jansson, who was a Swedish-speaking Finns too, was also an avid swimmer. She spent a lot of time on the island where she created Moomintroll. Mamma once went to the Island. Could it also be another outlet to let her sorrow out of the open water too?
I’ve never met such a gentle soul in the world. She is the best Mamma that I’ve ever encountered. That night, we lay in bed next to each other. I told her everything, everything. The night she also reminded me of the dialogue we had in the cemetery on top of Borgå hill -
'I've already adapted you, Ka-Man.' I like being called Ka-Man because it makes me feel close. She continued, 'You are part of our family now, my child.' It was Christmas eve, a handful of candle lights were lit. It was lonesome, but somehow a strange kind of warmth rose from my eyes. It was bizarre, I was not sad, but it was tearful. I always cried for no apparent reason.
Live a period of time from birth to death and during this time we face life struggles, we experience happiness and growth, and our way of life is determined by the part of the world we live in. We learn life lessons and how to overcome the challenges we face. And, as we develop we are writing our own life story by the choices that we make. Let these inspirational writings encourage and inspire you.
Events as in sensory memories: Of being held close to someone’s chest, of certain slants of light at particular times of day, of smells, types of biscuits, textures of carpet, the distant, incomprehensible, soothing sound of her parents voices in the car during long night-time drives and an underlying feeling that she has a right to exist and reasons to go on hoping.
‘So it’s lyrical then?’ Mamma asked.
‘Yes, I guess it is.’ I replied. ‘It’s good to be able to write again.’
Vessö gives me some Scandinavia, it gives me the right and reasons to go on writing as Ibsen wrote about the whole world in his little drawing room. It is ever so tranquil, so gentle.
Never invisible, always out of sight.