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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Blog: Bys­tan­der

Vieraskieliset / In-english
28.5.2019 6.13

I open the win­dows of the pub­li­ca­ti­ons sale booth. Ser­vi­ces are due to be­gin, and pe­op­le are ar­ri­ving. They are stam­ping snow off their shoes, loo­king around for so­me­o­ne they would like to see, pul­ling off their co­ats.

I am sit­ting in the booth, ob­ser­ving the view in front of me. Some pe­op­le are stan­ding and wai­ting for their spou­ses to hang up their co­ats. Pa­rents are ta­king off their child­ren’s snow­suits. Some pe­op­le are stri­ding di­rect­ly to their fa­mi­li­ar pla­ces in the pew. Yo­ung girls have gat­he­red to­get­her, kee­ping an eye on the door: as soon as all of their friends have come, they walk in a long line in­to the sanc­tu­a­ry. There is a buzz of con­ver­sa­ti­on, gree­tings. Some pe­op­le even nod at me as they pass the booth on their way to­ward the coat racks or the bath­rooms. Be­hind the win­dow of the booth I feel my­self a bys­tan­der.

– So you came, I hear the re­lief and joy in the lit­t­le boy’s voi­ce.

I sud­den­ly feel my­self pain­ful­ly lo­ne­so­me. It is im­por­tant to have friends who make us want to come to ser­vi­ces.

I re­mem­ber from my own yo­uth how he­si­tant I felt about going to ser­vi­ces if I was un­cer­tain about fin­ding so­me­o­ne to be with. For a long time I tag­ged along with my ol­der sis­ter, so I would not need to fear being alo­ne. I was shy with pe­op­le and had my fee­lers out for whet­her or not I could feel ac­cep­ted by the group. I am an int­ro­vert per­son, and I so­me­ti­mes find the so­ci­al ac­ti­vi­ty at ser­vi­ces a lit­t­le too much. It seems I do not know how to be re­la­xed and so­ci­ab­le, though some pe­op­le are na­tu­ral­ly like that.

While I was stu­dying in Ou­lu, my shy­ness stood out even more in the big cong­re­ga­ti­on. My friends and I al­wa­ys sat in the same part of the sanc­tu­a­ry, so we could find each ot­her ea­si­ly. I felt sa­fer in com­pa­ny. I still had the same old fear: can I just be my­self, am I good enough like this, can I do things well enough? I do not re­mem­ber if I pra­yed for a friend, but I was hap­py to have some. I sel­dom nee­ded to go home by my­self af­ter ser­vi­ces.

La­ter on I thought that if I had a spou­se and a fa­mi­ly, I would not need to won­der about who to sit with at ser­vi­ces. I would be more of­ten in­vi­ted to vi­sit pe­op­le, I would not need to face the mi­se­rab­le pros­pect of going to an emp­ty home af­ter ser­vi­ces. Now that I am ol­der, this fee­ling is not so poig­nant any more. I en­joy the pe­a­ce and qui­et of my own com­pa­ny.

The ser­vi­ces end and I see the pe­op­le pass in­to the op­po­si­te di­rec­ti­on. They are ta­king their co­ats and put­ting on their hats. Yo­ung pe­op­le are stan­ding in a circ­le. Mot­hers and fat­hers have joi­ned in cheer­ful con­ver­sa­ti­on while the lit­t­le ones are ho­ve­ring around them. They are cle­ar­ly tal­king about where to go for a vi­sit. I can­not join in anyt­hing, be­cau­se I am stan­ding be­hind a glass wall, iso­la­ted from the ot­hers.

Af­ter some time I as­su­me there will be no more cus­to­mers and close the door. The hall is al­most emp­ty. It is still ear­ly, and I would like to go and spend time with so­me­o­ne. Ha­ving been in the booth all the time, I feel I need com­pa­ny. Some of my friends are still there, but they seem to be ti­red and just want to go home.

The fee­ling of lo­ne­li­ness that I had when I was yo­ung in­va­des my mind: should I just go home by my­self and spend the long eve­ning lis­te­ning to the hum of the ref­ri­ge­ra­tor? I de­ci­de to go and see my mot­her in the nur­sing home. My sis­ter is al­so there, and I can share my pain­ful fee­lings with her. Soon af­ter that I get a text mes­sa­ge from my brot­her, who would like to come and vi­sit us with his fa­mi­ly. My eve­ning ends up being full of life.

Text: Au­lik­ki Pii­rai­nen

Trans­la­ti­on: Sirk­ka-Lii­sa Lei­no­nen

You will find the ori­gi­nal Fin­nish blog post here.