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Back to Helsinginkatu 10: Chapter 13 Back to Helsinginkatu 10: Chapter 13
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-07-08 08:49:34
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13. Ferah’s house

If meeting the Christ-like Alexei was some kind of a surprise, going to his house was a shock. Doesn’t matter how long you might have spent profiling people and situations you never stop been a human making common mistakes and carrying the most common stereotypes.


So the tree of us got into Ivan’s small car and with him driving carefully after five minutes in the small back streets of Myllypuro we found ourselves in front of a very gray building, one of a series of apartment building that surrounded a small playground with a very old swing and a sandbox. Sometimes I have the feeling that the newer buildings in Helsinki are Lego-made. Boxes fit each other until they get to the sixth floor making you wandering what would have happened if something like an earthquake hits the place. All the apartments seem to have two wide windows with some of them having flowers hanging. Usually most of the building in Helsinki has either a code to open the door or a doorbell, this had absolutely nothing, Alexei just pushed the door with his foot and we were inside a very dirty entrance. The elevator didn’t work so we had to go to the fourth floor on foot which apparently was my gymnastic for the next two weeks and on the third floor or fourth as the Finns call it since Finnish buildings don’t have ground floor. The door was plain wood with marks showing long and hard times. And inside there was …nothing! I mean absolutely nothing!

Well there was some kind of shoddy on the floor and later I found out that there was a sleeping bag in the bedroom with his clothes in a small wardrobe but that was it. Alexei looked at me and flashing red he said, “Her family took everything.”

“What?” Ivan reacted before me. Tears had formed in his eyes, “her mother came with her sister this morning and they took everything!” Ivan was angry, “and you didn’t say anything?” a sigh and then, “I wasn’t here!” I could feel the desperation behind the voice, there was nothing in the house and I could see from the marks that there used to be frames on all the walls, probably photos, that there was furniture in the sitting-room and the kitchen. A whole life had been wiped out living this man with nothing just memories and a horrible end. What about the police? I asked. “Didn’t tell them yet, I didn’t know I was in the police station when they came and took everything, I just got a phone call from her cousin and he told me that they got everything that belongs to them.”

“Alexei, they had no right to take anything,” Ivan started in English but soon his anger took over so he continued in Russian obviously swearing a lot. I walked through the rooms, a small sitting-room with a bench on the far right that separated the room with a small kitchen. Two wide windows looking at the apartment on the opposite building and then nothing else. I walked in the small kitchenette. There were a couple of dirty glasses in the sink and a small spoon but the half open cupboards looked empty of plates or anything else. In the second smaller cupboard over the sink there were two plates and a half open draw shown a couple of forks and a knife. A dirty kitchen tower on the floor.

I walked out of the room and entered the room with the sleeping bag. You could see that it used to be a bed there with two nightstands and a lot of stamps on the walls. Obviously a lot of photos used to decorate the room. I could not say or think of anything, it was like somebody had emptied the house of thoughts and memories. For a moment I felt that I was suffocating. Over a decade ago I had been a victim of burglary and on my way back from a long weekend I found mu house in similar situation. Nothing was left and apparently the thieves had said to my neighbours that had asked that I was moving, so organized they were.

When I stepped inside my empty house the shock was so strong that I have no memory from the moment I open the door till the minute I called the police and that was something like four hours after. Something had happened that evening, the shock of rape in a vey twisting way was so strong so I temporary lost my senses and any memory and I remember that one of the policemen had expressed the opinion that I might had seen the thieves but I couldn’t hold the shock. It was like a déjà vu and I had the same feeling all over again.

I returned to the sitting- room where Alexei with Ivan were standing quiet with Ivan having lit a cigarette ignoring the fact that you don’t smoke inside a house in Finland. Alexei, you must call them to return you some of your things. This is not right! I said and Alexei half smiled, “ask them to return things? No way!” Ivan didn’t say anything but I could see that he was building up inside him. “Ferah loved photographing, we bought this digital camera when we visited St. Petersburg in the winter and she bought this very small digital camera.” The man was looking the places in the wall where I had guessed that there were framed photographs. “You remember?” he asked Ivan and the big Russian nodded. “She had it in her pocket and all the time she was photographing.” Do you have the camera Alexei, I asked automatically. “The police kept her bag and the camera was inside.” He said quietly avoiding my eyes; the man was ready to start crying again.

Did you have a lot of things in here? I asked having that strange feeling that I wanted to fill the rooms with something even if that something was in my imagination. “A lot of things,” Alexei said, “Ferah love buying things and every time we went to St. Petersburg she bought everything, small things, and big things.” It was like I could see her, the small young girl in this house full of things she had bought from the flee markets in St. Petersburg and Helsinki. The smiling face full of love and life I had seen an hour ago in the small photo kept coming in my mind and she was definitely not the stereotype of the Muslim veiled girl. One more time I wondered what Pekka had thought about this man.

“This was Ferah’s house; she had bought and chosen everything, even my underwear!” Alexei said to nobody looking at the windows. For a bit the three of us just stood there and then Ivan said something to Alexei in Russian to get a negative “niet” even I understood. For a bit they exchanged some talking with Ivan building angrier but in the end he seemed to give up. “We have to go, I need to go home soon and she what the wife and the kids are doing!” Ivan said to me moving towards the door. The truth was that I had no idea what to say so I just touched Alexei on the shoulder nodding and I followed Ivan outside.

“He wants to stay here! I will come later with food and a drink!” was the only thing Ivan said on the way back, adding in the end, “Idiot!” and hitting the wheel with both his hands. I kept quiet till he left me in front of the petrol station.



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