Leaving Sweden, Going America


Leaving Sweden, Going America

On a sunny noon during summer in the year Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump contested for the US Presidency, the couple hastily prepare to welcome a man.

The man is the boy’s father. The boy is no more a boy but an adult but he is still a boy for the father.

The son had requested the father to pick up three cardboard boxes of things and keep with him for he could neither dispose them off on blocket.se nor could he carry with him to America when he leaves Sweden, possibly for good. He wishes to live the rest of his life in those lands of opportunities along with his girlfriend.

The father rings the bell of a flat on the fourth floor of a building overlooking a railtrack for the trams by Briljantgatan in south western Gothenburg.

Anabel Schumann, his son’s girlfriend, opens the door and lets him to sit in on the sofa that is waiting to be picked up by a buyer tomorrow. She drily asks him without addressing him with his name and without mentioning any relation, ‘Tea or coffee?’

‘Coffee. Thanks,’ he says. He could hear the sound of shower in use, his son is taking a shower. He always showers or bathes like his mother, the father thinks, neat boy, my son Klaus, Klaus Nordstrand. When his son comes, the father gets up and gives a hug, and splashes a smile that lay dormant hitherto.

Klaus fetches coffee, prepared by Anabel, and also collects biscuits for his father and puts them on a circular table in front of them. He enquires, ‘All fine?’

‘Yes,’ the father assures, and asks, ‘are you sure?’ whether his son is really leaving Sweden or just to try the life out of Sweden.

‘Pappa,’ he starts, ‘But…’

Anabel joins them with a cup of coffee in her hands, and sits next to Klaus. ‘Tell the facts,’ she tells her boyfriend.

‘Future of Sweden is bleak.’

‘What?’ the father asks with a surprise in his voice. He is not dismayed that his son wants to explore his life in another country but he is dismayed to hear such a statement which is not convincing to him.

‘It’s a debt-ridden economy. The welfare model is unsustainable,’ Klaus answers.

‘Few days ago there was a gangwar. They’re killing each other,’ Anabel adds.

‘It’s getting worse,’ Klaus says, ‘here.’

‘With foreigners everywhere,’ Anabel substantiates.

The father gently tilts his head, a tilt that either confirmed their views or rejected their views: serene Swedish assessment. He wants to sniff the social ancestry of Anabel but the bare details his son had revealed earlier yielded very little information to him about her. Except for a fact that Anabel’s maternal grandmother’s sister was erased from Hitler’s Germany on account of a physical disability: useless human beings should be purged, and Action T4 purged. And the civic courtesy of post-70s Swedish culture precluded the father from posing poky questions. Bet he asks Klaus, genuinely, ‘Wherein America?’

‘First we go to Canada, then to USA,’ Anabel explains.

‘Going there without jobs?’ the father asks the son looking into his eyes.

‘We’ll find,’ Anabel says, and gets up to attend a chore.

The father casts his glance at her body, and then at his son’s. The couple’s convivial cohabitation manifests in their waists. He convinces himself, they will find their way in those lands of opportunities. Anabel has the highest educational credits in religious studies—a seminal work on the dissipation of pagan worshipping rituals in Nordic hinterlands in the ninth century—and that will attract a church or an institute. Klaus is a mathematician who can calculate a cloud’s volume, a cloud’s viscosity, and a cloud’s vapours which will benefit an insurance company or aviation industry especially fighter pilots.

‘I feel you should think over, once again,’ father says, guardedly.

Anabel returns, and interjects. ‘We’ve thought about it, many times.’

Klaus shifts his glance from his father to his girlfriend and to his father, and adds, ‘We’re not completely packing up. We still have our citizenships.’

‘I’ll be here, when you need me,’ the father says to his son, and looks at Anabel and says, ‘thanks for the coffee.’

‘You’re welcome. Also, to America,’ Anabel says in a kindlier tone, and something comes out of from the depths of her heart, ‘We’re there for you.’

The father gets up to leave with the three cardboard boxes. Klaus gestures to help him carry the boxes, his father accepts. They climb down the staircase, one step at a time, and sharing one thought at time.

—Lucinda Palme