Monday, 24 August 2009

Kreetta Onkeli: Housewife - 1

Some excerpts from the novel:


How long have they lived there? One and a half years? Two? Her job as a housewife is the longest one she has ever had. They have adapted. They live in a spacious apartment. The ceilings in the stone building are up to four metres high. There are so many rooms that they haven’t enough furniture for them all. Assar bought the apartment with shares. Sirre doesn’t know what kind of shares they were, and has never even asked him, because she was more interested in the bathroom tiles than the source of the money. She couldn’t choose between dark blue tiles and dark green tiles. At any rate the bathroom would look new. Assar could see nothing wrong with white tiling and cute oval-shaped wash basins with two faucets. The bathroom is very important for a woman, and Sirre didn’t want to wash, scrub and oil herself in an ordinary bathroom of the kind you might find in Hakaniemi. Only Italian or Spanish tiles would do, and a pure-style wash basin with automatic faucets. As she thought about the bathroom next to an enormous pile of product catalogues, it occurred to her that a single brown-coloured painting would be an original choice for the door of the WC. She remembered seeing a painting that would be suitable. She didn’t think she had painted it herself. Assar would hardly object. He had promised Sirre a home. Sirre’s home was her office. That was how she thought of it. Sirre was responsible for all of the choices in the home that affected interior decoration and the feeding and clothing of the family. In the kitchen she made a cup of cappuccino.

She found a quiet life satisfying. Every woman needs a family. Assar and Vita had made her complete. She caressed the Kitchen-Aid blender and sat down on the broad ledge below the window. What was missing was a view of the sea. One and a half meters away was the wall of the office employees. It looked like something out of a social realist East German Advent calendar. It had little square compartments with dangling blinds, and poor-postured fluffy-looking females in knitted cardigans stuck bright yellow post-it notes on the wall’s free surface area. The office workers’ slavishness emphasized Sirre’s privileged lot. Sirre turned her back on them. Fortunately the apartment had lots of space. Through the living room another living room opened up on the horizon, behind it were Vita’s room, the office where Sirre sorted her interior design magazines and cookbooks, the utility room, the bedroom, the library and the guest room, as well as some other silly little rooms that were full of nooks and crannies and were all that people could think of building a hundred years ago. They were wonderful places for storing rowing machines, exercycles and steppers, she thought, affectedly, as if she were Louis XII.

Sirre was a lucky woman. She put her cup back in its saucer on the window ledge, got out the yoga mat and began to do stretching exercises in the living room, which in its half-furnished state looked like Maya Plisetskaya’s dance class. Sirre saw himself in a black tights and a black gym top, straight-necked and upright, a smile on her lips even though the stretching was making her muscles ache.

translated from Finnish by David McDuff


Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


David McDuff said...

Welcome to Nordic Voices, Sara, and thank you for your positive comment. I hope you'll continue to visit here and enjoy reading the translations and other texts that have been posted - there's quite a lot of variety to choose from.