Valikko Sulje

Rautjärvi, summer 1943

A drawn picture, where a man is shot.

The boy stares straight at me, eyes dark with fear and glued to my battered face. Some lieutenant is spouting forth and almost getting physical. I try to give answers and stay calm. Yes, that’s where I came from. The intention was just as you thought. No, I don’t hate anyone, not specially. Surely we’re all fighting our own war here, alone and together. We’ll come through it and then we’ll get along, when all this eventually ends.

The boy’s hair is stuck down on his forehead with sweat. He seeks support from the door jamb with one hand. Mouth slightly open, he swallows once or twice. I’d like to tell the little fellow that everything is all right. The grown-ups just talking a bit. All will be cleared up and then you can scoot around again in bare feet, shirt-tail flying, along the edge of the cornfield.

The lieutenant hisses. There is a slight pain in my chest. Like I can’t breathe. I bow my head. If one could just go to sleep and wake up tomorrow.

He is here sent by his father. Crossed the border with mother, slaughterers’ bullets buzzed round their ears and some even hit them. Dad had shown him the scar tattooed on his leg in the sauna and talked about the revolution they were organising in Finland. We are on the same business. Even though the war is probably already lost. Went the same way
as the last one.

The boy’s fingers drum the painted surface of the jamb. An involuntary chuckle escapes from me when the lieutenant gets carried away, berating me for my evil intentions. We’re all a bit like mere wretched kids. The boy turns on his heels and closes the door. I think that well, this is a fine room.

It feels like something crawling on my skin, hidden under my beard.

Pekka Vartiainen
Picture on the top of the page: Kirsi Pääskyvuori
Transl. Annira Silver
Location on map

The story and the pictures are a part of Tarinajoki book (River of Stories), made in Rural Explorer project. As part of a culture tourism project, stories arising from the body of folk narratives and history also have a function in relation to the productisation of tourism. The stories are linked to real locations.