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Back to Helsinginkatu 10: Chapter 9 Back to Helsinginkatu 10: Chapter 9
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-06-19 09:20:18
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9. Events in Sörnäinen

“Twenty six year-old woman, stabbed from the back!” Pekka took a deep breathe and continued in slower and very tired voice, “Kurdish origin, she moved to Finland from Iraq twelve years ago. She had Finnish passport!” and then he went totally quiet looking at his half empty cup of coffee. Married? Was the only thing that came to my mind. “No kids, but yes, married with a Russian. Living here since mid eighties also with Finnish citizenship.


For a few moments we both sat there quiet. Naturally my first thought was that it was a hate crime and from his face I could see that Pekka had gone through the same thoughts. “It doesn’t look like a passion crime. The husband was home with her sister fixing something electric while she was at work. Actually she was on her way back from work.” Pekka continued answering my thoughts, “or at least that’s what we think.” According to what he said and the sister verified they were a very loving and all that loving things couple. Really carrying for each other and trying hard to fill the gaps two different cultures obviously have.” I could hear his frustration.

As I said I have never seen Pekka at work but from the little I know him I could always say that he is a very stable person, always calm with logic keeping him always in order. I mean the man had not only to work with criminals he had to return home and also take care of a handicap wife and two young children. And of course I could never forget how seriously he handled the whole Leena and Juha case a year before.

Pekka is nearly a foot shorter than me, the stereotype of the Finnish man at his age. In his late thirties with strong body in the beginning of a small round belly, square head with high cheekbones and blonde hair really shortly cut army style. Deep blue eyes and absolutely no body language. He talks with small sentences and he listens. He likes hiking, Nordic walking, ice fishing and cross-country ski during the dark winter. Last year he went for hiking somewhere north and he proudly announced that he was doing something like sixty kilometres a day walking. Every time I think of it, I feel tired ready to go to bed for a couple of hours.

Pekka is the short of person who would never exaggerate, add or dismiss something and I suppose that was mainly work hazard. When he describes you something you have the feeling that you are reading a police report. I was never sure exactly what Pekka is doing for the police force that I had the feeling that this case had landed on his lap and he wasn’t very happy about it. A few weeks ago while waiting for the summer with a bottle of beer each in the common area he had confess that he was getting a bit tired with this new attitude in the force. Despite his young age it seemed that inside the force they wanted officers more …communicative as he had put it and he was not one of them. I suppose with all those immigrants and due to EU changes coming nowadays in Finland a lot of things had to be different including the police attitude towards the civilians even though Finnish people are in general scared of authority. Perhaps to some Pekka with his quiet attitude looked like a forgotten relic. My suggestion to grow a beard hadn’t work very well with his Finnish sense of humour.

“I don’t have any exciting ideas, I’m actually following procedures, asking questions and waiting the laboratory results” he said after a few minutes and especially when silence became just too loud. The magic CSI, I had to add with a smile. “You are watching too much television!” was the answer and I knew all the arguments, we had done the same conversation before.  I mocked an army-style salute and I lit another cigarette waiting for him to continue. “Damn.” He said suddenly, “do you know what the weirdest thing of all? She was found in a small crossroad park with a few buses in Sörnäinen, in a place where there is some kind of traffic all the time, where there are people all during the day and night. And nobody saw anything. Not see not hear!”

I had to admit that I could feel his frustration. I was quite familiar with the area not only because for a couple of years I worked for a magazine with head offices in the area but mainly out of curiosity and because the reputation of the place had overwhelmed this curiosity. Before I even find out where about this place was I had heard that Sörnäinen is Helsinki’s Soho. Five six years ago and thanks to a writer friend I had the chance to know Sörnäinen. An area full of cheap pubs, kitsch nightclubs, bad cheap food, pizzas and kebab; a lot of ethnic shops, the occasional sex shops and here and there some surprisingly good places. You see Sörnäinen is not only the place for the usual lumpen characters, petit criminals and alcoholics but a place for the underground and out of the mainstream life of Helsinki. Rock stars, actors and TV celebrities, intellectuals and reporters are regulars in the area. The thing I like about this area is that it has a breathing life. And if you can ignore the dirty floors and bad beer you can really have good time there. Not the family place for a Sunday afternoon to entertain your six-year-old but the perfect place to see the real Finland. And for a Kaurismaki fan like me the perfect place.

Despite the hard from alcohol faces you might meet in every single corner of Sörnäinen I found out that it can be far friendlier place than any other in the pose central Helsinki. And as Pekka had noted it is a place with life twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I had been around there in the morning, in the afternoon, in the midnight and early morning hours and there were people all around, doesn’t matter the day of the week. And especially getting closer the main avenue that was crossing Sörnäinen from one side to the other there were always cars and during the night a lot of taxis waiting for the late drinkers. So having a fight that led to a stubbing with nobody having seen or heard something it was a mystery and I could even understand Pekka’s frustration.

It was also the small crossroad park he had mentioned and I knew exactly where it was and what he meant. It is in the back of the main exit of the metro station, near to a very popular pub I had been many times myself. And I was sure I had stopped in that very same spot to light a cigarette and I was definitely not the only one and that in the small morning hours. Damn! I said reacting the very same way Pekka had reacted a few minutes before. I suppose you have canvas all the area, I asked knowing already the answer. He just looked at me. “We even found regulars that didn’t go there that night! Nothing!”

His telephone rang and he answered without even looking the number that had called him. He listened for a bit and then he finished his coffee. “They had to leave the husband go!” his blue eyes had the colour of dark storming sky. “Thanks for the coffee, I have to go now. I came to check on Mina, in a case she needs something and then I’m going back to the office!” and he was already half way out of the patio walking towards his house.



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