In your last letter you wrote about a funeral. Obviously it didn’t leave me unaffected.
Last night I dreamt about some men who carried a coffin.
I don’t see the person in the coffin but I am convinced that it is my father; he lived in Canada or the USA. I know it is him because my anguish is stuck in my chest like dry ice and prevents me from breathing.
I adjust my footsteps to the men. I don’t want to stand aside. I also want to carry the burden.
An unknown voice talks to me from above:
“It is not your matter to carry this coffin on your shoulders.”
“But the deceased has no male descendants!” I protest. ”I am the only one left after him. These guys are strangers.”
“The deceased was not a good person”, says the voice with emphasis.
“I still want to carry this burden.”
“It will crush you.”
“No, it will not!” I persist. “I am used to it. Nobody has ever held the sky above my head.”
“You are a reactionary and a prisoner of history”, the voice proceeds now softer.
”Try to understand that you are not responsible for your parents’ doings and fates. If you absolutely want to carry this burden you have to accept help, even from strangers.”
I give up. I stay at the side of the road. I have left the way open.
“Do not despise the one who leaves the road open!” I want to shout to the men who carry the coffin, but one of them is faster than me. It is a young guy with curly hair and a freckled face.
“Listen little girl, behind that mountain poppy flowers grow!” he shouts happily to me without slowing down.
The coffin is carried past.
And I begin walking towards the poppy fields to eat enough of the seeds of oblivion and fall deeply asleep – and then wake up to a new life, beautiful and exciting.
(From Zinaida Lindén’s novel “Gloria mundi”, to be published at Söderströms och Gummerus publishers in 2007).
(Illustration by Jaga Jankowska)
(translated by Lasse Kristensen)