the iceberg

i went through a stage where i almost stopped reading. i was rereading „the brothers karamazov”, but that’s a totally different matter. i just find it so hard to be interested in anything  now…the escapism bit is tougher and tougher to achieve. well this was the book that did it this time…i don’t know what next…:

tove jansson – ‘a winter book’. a collection of short quasi-autobiographical bits, mostly from when she was a wee kid, lots of them from her holidays on an island. she is apparently more well-known for ‘the moomins’ cycle of kids’ lit, but i’d never heard of her before. this is ‘the iceberg’, a 4-page story:

„it was green and white and sparkling and it was coming in order to meet me. i had never seen an iceberg before.

now it all depended on whether anyone said anything. if they said a single word about the iceberg, it wouldn’t be mine any longer.

we got closer and closer. daddy rested on his oars but old charlie went on rowing and said: „it’s early this year.” and daddy answered, „yes. it’s not long since it broke up,” and went on rowing.

mummy didn’t say a thing.

anyway, you couldn’t count that as actually saying anything about an iceberg, and so this iceberg was mine.”

so at night she goes out of the house, armed with her dad’s torch, and gets back to see it:

„even before i got to the field by the shore, i could see the iceberg. it was waiting for me and was shining just as beautifully but very faintly. it was lying there bumping against the rocks at the end of the point where it was deep, and there was deep black water and just the wrong distance between us. if it had been shorter i should have jumped over; if it had been a little longer i could have thought: ‘what a pity, no one can manage to get over that.’

now i had to make up my mind. and that’s an awful thing to have to do.

the oval grotto with the grating of ice was facing the shore and the grotto was as big as me. it was made for a little girl who pulled up her legs and cuddled them to her. there was room for the torch too.

[…]my hands and my tummy began to feel icy-cold and i sat up. the grotto was the same size as me, but i didn’t dare to jump. and if one doesn’t dare to do something immediately, then one never does it.

i switched on the torch and threw it into the grotto. it fell on its side and lit up the whole grotto, making it just as beautiful as i had imagined it would be. it became an illuminated aquarium at night, the manger at bethlehem or the biggest emerald in the world! it was so unbearably beautiful that i had to get away from the whole thing as quickly as possible, send it away, do something! so i sat down firmly and placed both feet on the iceberg and pushed it as hard as i could. it didn’t move.

„go away!” i shouted. „clear off!”  ”

thank you, tove jansson, for miraculous writing. finding this book effectively made my week.

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