Torstai 20.9.2018
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Tuonelan kohdusta minä huudan apua, ja sinä, Herra, kuulet ääneni. Joona 2:3

Blog: Could I say something to her?

in English 21.5.2016 06:55 | Päivämies-verkkolehti
I wonder if, living in a small village, I have become a bit of a country bumpkin? Walking down the aisles of a shopping center, I feel somehow unreal and bewildered? I was once asked how many times a week I go to town. I was ashamed to say how seldom I really go, so I said I don’t go every week.
I turn to a smaller street and step into an antiquarian bookshop. I feel at home in that atmosphere, in the dusty smell of old stories and fairy-tales.

I have come to do Christmas shopping and I seem to be looking for something familiar and down-to-earth. I finally take off my backpack and sit down on a bench. I am waiting for a friend from our village. She works in the library, and she gave me a ride to town this morning. It feels good to think about the ride home. We will have time to visit in peace.

I look at the people hurrying by. An older lady in a wool coat is sitting next to me on the bench. She also seems to be looking at the people milling about in the aisle. I wonder if I could say something to her? What if she would rather not be disturbed?
 
I sit there in silence. I look at her again. She seems friendly – and she is holding a loaf of rye bread on her lap. A greying old lady and a freshly baked loaf. Familiar and down-to-earth. I make my decision.
 
– There are a lot of people around, I say.
 
We end up talking about topics ranging from children’s Christmas presents and books we have read to Russian customers and international news. About when each of us came to Rovaniemi and why. Where she used to live before that, and where I used to live. She tells me about her mother who has passed away, and I tell her about my father who died in a northern village not far from where she lived as a child. We have memories of the same highlands.
 
I tell her I’m going to have a cup of tea. She says she went to a chocolate shop and recommends it to me.
 
– I will go there again to buy some prune tarts for Christmas. Come with me, I’ll show you where it is!
 
We walk side by side, still talking. We do not know each other’s names, and it is not appropriate to ask about something so private.
 
The coffee shop is warm. They have a big assortment of artisan chocolates on display. She pays for her purchase. Before leaving, she turns to me and hands me a small box.
 
– I bought this for you.
 
For me! Astonished and delighted I hug her. She hugs me back and wishes me happy Christmas. She turns away quickly, but I glimpse her face and see that she is moved. So am I. The door closes, and she is gone.
 
At home I tell my children about the lady who was sitting next to me on the bench, holding a rye loaf. I tell them she gave me a present of warm Christmas feeling. We may never meet again. But I will remember her.

When the children are in bed in the evening, I make tea for my husband and myself. With my tea cup steaming on the table, I open the small box. There are two pink chocolate hearts in it.
 
I say a quiet prayer of thanks for having met this unknown lady. I wish her a Christmas full of light, heavenly light.  
 
Anna Virtanen
Translation: S-L.L.
The blog post was published in online Päivämies on 2 Dec. 2014

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