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Back to Helsinginkatu 10: Chapter 1 Back to Helsinginkatu 10: Chapter 1
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-04-29 10:35:58
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1. Spring, a year after

Reading has always been my thing. Since I was a child I found that reading was my escape and my chance to live in another world far away and where the only invaders were the imaginary ones coming from the books. And I read everything. From science fiction to comic books and from adventure to philosophy essays; you see I have this funny principal, there is no bad book, read it first and then decide if you enjoyed it or not. And I read a lot!


Then it was these fast reading lessons I had in college and I can read something like hundred pages an hour which makes me a manic reader who needs a stock of unread books to feel comfortable. If you add to that, that I have photographic memory which means that I cannot read a book twice because I remember line, paragraph and page and that I have this weird impulse to read three and four books the same time then you most likely think that I’m some kind of books freak!

All the above mean one simple thing, that most of my life I spent money into books and I’m really proud of my collection that includes anything from contemporary literature to classics and from comic books to rare and collector’s editions. I take care of them religiously and I try to keep them like new always very careful how I read them. Occasionally a publication was trimmed in the back making me buy it again just to have the feeling that in my bookcase it would look perfect. And talking about bookcases, well that’s another long term problem. Every few months I add another one and a few months after the books are pilling in three rows and some on the top making me think that I need …a new one.

And all that until a few months ago when a new gadget landed on my lap, a digital book reader. Fine, fine I have a thing with gadgets but due to my professional involvement with computers I have learn the hard way that when a new gadget comes out you wait. You wait until the first version is well sold, until the experts have found the problems, they have come with a second version and a couple of updates and then you buy the third version which most likely will be also much cheaper. And I was waiting for two full years until I finally decide which digital book reader was better for my needs and finally bought one in a reasonable price.

On the plus side of the small gadget - the size of a pocket book - was that I could read four and five books the same time without needing to carry heavy loads around and most importantly it could fit even in my jacket’s pocket. All that meant that my digital book became my constant companion coming with me everywhere I was going. All that didn’t mean that I stopped buying books, it just slowed down a bit my books money spending mania.

I have mentioned before that my house has a small patio where I usual step for a cigarette since in Finland for the understandable health reasons is not nice to smoke inside; and since spring was coming fast I was joined with my digital book lately having more than the few minutes it takes to smoke a cigarette Sometimes I'm spending more than half an hour reading while drinking my coffee and smoking a couple of cigarettes. My health problems the last three years had somehow made me to withdraw from a very limited social life anyway and the new toy had proved a great challenge since I was ending up reading at least a book every couple of days.

All these were part of my thoughts while I was lighting my third cigarette of the day, standing behind the glass that protected the patio from the winter snow and I must have been so deep in my thoughts that I didn’t see or heard Leena crossing the small dry garden and coming near me. “Hay!” she said making me jump. “Are you ok?” she added with her strong Finnish accent. I smiled still trying to light my cigarette. “When are you going to quit this habit?” Oh please Leena, you know that this is one of the few luxuries I excuse to my self, I said using my usual excuse when somebody was after me for my smoking habits. She smiled, put aside her metal crane and sat next to me. She had come out of the hospital a couple of weeks ago after spending nearly a month inside. Winters always worsen her MS situation and she had to stay inside forced to let her cat in the care of some kind of animal settler. And it was every year the same story, leaving her wheel chair at spring and slowly walking with her metal crane, then going a bit faster during the summer to return gradually to her wheel chair every autumn and back to the hospital for the winter.

She did complained and she hated her life but the same time she was enjoying the little glimpses of comfort the weather could give her and today was obviously one of those days. She was smiling and I hadn’t seen her smile for quite a bit of time especially after all the events last year in our neighbourhood. We both live in a small neighbourhood in the suburbs of Helsinki where things don’t happen very often and when something big happens it short of traumatises our life and leaves a dark cloud that follows us for a while. And what had happened the year before with the other Leena had left us with a really dark cloud we were trying hard to forget.

Leena, the other Leena had become the reasoning for a bit of excitement in our life not necessarily volunteering herself for what had happened, actually she was the victim of all the excitement in many ways, physical and mental even though I was the one who had to suffer a nearly broken arm. After the events Leena had moved from our neighbourhood leaving us with a lot of unanswered questions and the feeling that we could have done something earlier and we failed. Strange feeling when we had done everything possible to be done and we had in the end become part of the conclusion for the whole story, but then again you know how people think …is not always logical and guilt is part of everyday’s life.

But as I said Leena had gone and we were back the two of us, me smoking my morning cigarette and Leena looking at her cat that was digging something in my garden. Life looked back to normal and some green that had started showing in a corner of my small garden was a prove of that. Somehow spring brings the sense of optimism and both of us, Leena and I had a great need for some optimism. “Did you hear anything about the break in the storage room, next door?” Leena said and the cigarette dropped from my hand!



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