It was half past eleven. Sirre fetched a microfibre cloth from the utility room and wiped the dust from the small bronze sculptures she had bought from Galleria Sculptor. She did not know who the young Finnish sculptor was who had made them, but as abstracts they went well with the broad and simple window ledges, and they induced one to imagine what they represented. They were surprisingly heavy. For some reason Sirre had initially avoided art galleries, in her memory there was some trauma connected with art, and in her new life she did not feel like thinking about it. Now she experienced art in terms of its surface, superficially. She wasn’t interested in the person who had made it, just as she didn’t give a damn about who had designed the dining room furniture or the ceiling lamp. She decided to go and have lunch at the Nepalese place. It was a small and cosy restaurant. Its lunchtime clientele included civil servants, graphic designers, people in the film industry, architects. The calm buzz of voices reminded her of a wasps’ nest at night. These people knew how to hang together. They ate in a leisurely fashion. Their lunchtime was a different affair from the hour-long lunch break at the hospital, where the staff ate film-wrapped sandwiches as they ran from one ward to the other. A jangling, discordant tape recording droned away behind the Finnish consensus. As she picked at the rice with her fork Sirre felt lonely. Which group did she belong to? Housewives didn't have a union. Assar was hardly ever away from his job. Vita was in fourth grade at school. Dear Vita! Sirre would give her a surprise and fetch her straight from school. Vita wouldn’t have to go to her extra afternoon class. It was wonderful – she was so lucky to have a child. At the same time she remembered that Assar was still unwilling to sign the adoption papers that would make Vita her own. Sirre drank two glasses of water. She had a moral responsibility to take care of Vita. She was Vita’s mother in a practical and ethical sense, and she must not think about side issues. Sirre left the rice uneaten, as was nowadays advised. She would leave the restaurant, go to the school, quick quick, before Vita had time to start playing in the playground with the other children.
Behind the old prison the children’s shouts rose in the air like the snowballs. The junior school was in red-brick building that also housed the kindergarten and the sports hall. Inside, the premises which had been reconditioned from an old turbine factory were white and high-ceilinged, enlivened on the outside by the original dark red brick wall. The old decommissioned chimneystack rose from the schoolyard like a tower erected in honour of learning. In this part of town the children were red-cheeked and warmly dressed. She did not see a child left out of games, or kicking the ice alone in a corner. The girls were prettily dressed, their long tresses tied up in pigtails. The pigtails reached far down their backs. Vita’s jacket was covered in black and wine-red squares.
Sirre stood outside the school to wait. She expected that Vita would come running to her as soon as she saw her. Vita said goodbye to her friends and ran to hug her.
“Mummy’s here! My Mummy’s here!” she cried.
Housewife - 1