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Urmas Vadi

Biography

Urmas Vadi (1977) is an Estonian writer of short stories, plays and film scripts. He studied radio at Tallinn University and, since 2002, works for the Estonian Public Broadcasting where he produces his own weekly culture and literature programme.

Vadi published several collections of short stories and wrote and directed plays for different Estonian theatres. In 2011, his play Last Kiss from Peeter Volkonski was honoured with the Eesti Kultuurkapital literature award in the category ‘Drama'. In the same year, Vadi received the Tuglas Short Story Award, the most important prize in its category in Estonia.

During his residency in Villa Hellebosch, he finished his novel Back to Estonia!.

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Authors' text

Kodune Denderwindeke

Ma ei tea, kas selles on midagi inimlikku või eestlaslikku või midagi mulle ainuomast, aga ma olen veidi ksenofoobne. Ei midagi paanilist, aga võõraste maade ja inimeste juures tunnen ma end ebamugavalt. Lennukis on mul hirm, et lennuk kukub alla. Ma võtan pileti alati varuväljapääsu juurde, loen alati läbi selle lehe, kus on kirjas, kuidas peaks häda korral käituma. Võõrlinnades tunnen ma end tihti eksinuna, kohver ühes käes, teises käes kaart otsin ma, kus ma olen. Võõrastega rääkima hakates on mu suurimaks hirmuks, et äkki nad saavad kohe meie vestluse alguses teada, et mu inglise keele hinne koolis loksus kahe ja kolme vahel. Ja kas ma mingis meelehetitehoos ei hakka rääkima hoopiski eesti keeles, ise käte ja jalgadega vehkides? See hirm on väiksem, kui ma räägin soomlase või lätlasega või ungarlasega, aga inglased ja prantslased oma keelega on hirmutavad. Ja kuna ma teadsin ette, et Helleboschi loomemaja kõrvaltuppa tuleb minuga samal ajal ameeriklanna, tekitas see minus, kujutate ehk isegi ette - kõhedust. Ehk tuleb see kõhedus meie, eestlaste, ajaloolisest mälust? Et kui keegi võõras õuele tuli, tahtis ta ikka sind kas tappa, sinu raha, sinu toitu, sind ristida. Ja need, kes ellu jäid, olid harjunud jooksma metsa, kuuse otsa ja ootama, kui võõrad on lahkunud.

Aga nüüd olin ma kuuse otsast alla tulnud, seisin pimedas öös ühe Belgia villa pargis, kuuskede asemel olid pöögid, mille otsa juba ei roni! Ja majas on ees ootamas see ameeriklanna, kes on peaaegu kaks meetrit pikk, hiigelnaine. Ta kõrgub üle mu pea, mis kolksatab vastu lage, kui ta end sirgu ajab. Ja nüüd ootab ta mind õhtusöögile, tõstab mu ühele toolile istuma, ma olen nii väike, et isegi mu jalad ei ulatu maha. Ta seob mu käed tooli seljatoe külge kinni ja hakkab rääkima minu lapsepõlve kõige müstilisemast ja süngemast asjast - külmast sõjast. Ja siis tuleb välja, et selle hiigelnaise isa on Ronald Reigan, kes on samuti seal toas, istub tuumapommi otsas ja tema ees laual on punane nupp, mida ta luidrad käed on kohe vajutamas. Ja ta teeb seda kohe, kui ma peaksin õhtusöögi ajal tegema midagi valesti, kas kasutama põhiroa kahvlit eelroa juures, ajama veini laudlinale, vastama midagi valesti. Vestlus ise on aga ülimalt akadeemiline, see hiigelnaine räägib vaid tsitaatides ja ootab minult sama. Ja need autorid, keda ta tsiteerib on kõik mulle tundmatud ja see vihastab seda naist ja tema hullumeelset isa veelgi rohkem ja juba ongi Reigan oma punast nuppu muljumas. Kordasin mõttes Ginsbergi luuletust Holy, holy, holy, et kuidagigi kaasa rääkida.

Tuli aga välja, et Maud on minust palju lühem ja üks kõige normaalsem inimene vist üldse. Ja siin ma tahaksingi teha kaks mõtteavaldust - Ma olin arvanud, et minu varases keskeas enam uusi sõpru ei leita, aga näed, leitakse ikka küll. Ja teine avastus oli, et ma suudan temaga rääkida! Ja mitte mingit argijuttu - anna sina mulle leiba, mina ulatan sulle soola, vaid absoluutselt kõigest. Ja see ei puuduta grammatikat ega sõnaoskust vaid teatavat ühisosa, mis tuleb kusagilt sinu lapsepõlvest, sinu keskkonnast, sinu mälust. Ma olin alati mõelnud, et ma ikka väga kaua ja sügavalt ei räägi inimestega, kes pole näinud minu lapsepõlve multifilme, olnud pioneer ise seda vihates, ostnud noorukieas kolmeliitrise purgiga lahtist õlut... See korraga ei kehtinud enam ja see oli tõesti vabastav. Ja ma tundsin, et ma olen palju vähem ksenofoobne.

Me tegime Maud´iga pikki jalutuskäike põldude vahel, tuul tõi vahest ninna sõnnikuhõngu, kusagil tegi eesel kaeblikult häält. Meie villa lahedal oli üks hani, kes alati väga kurjalt just Maud´i peale kisendas. Niimoodi jalutades tundus, et kõik on sõbrad, ei ole olemas rahvusi, ei ole olemas võõraid maid, vaid kõik on inimesed, isegi eeslid ja ponid ja hobused, lambad, kanad. Ja nii me jõudsimegi oma jalutuskäiguga väikelinna Denderwindeke. Minu jaoks kõlas selle linna nimi nagu mõni saksa muinasjutt, kus meid ees ootavad rahvariietes naine ja mees, kellel on jalas põlvpüksid ja puukingad. Ja nad laulavad meile tervituseks. Linnake oli väike ja kena, kirik, pood, pagaripoeke ja kõrts, Jubilee silt aknal. Otsustasime sinna sisse minna ja juua ühed õlled ja süüa paar võileiba. Ja siis see algas. Meid võttis vastu kolm meest. Kaks neist istusid baarileti ääres, kolmas istus baarileti taga. Kõik nad olid ilmselgelt seal juba mõnda aega istunud. Ka baarman ise oli oma õllesid maitsnud, ta nägu õhetas, ja oli aru saada, et ta oli oma tööd teinud juba aastaid. Meie tulek tekitas meestes elevust. Mõtlesin algul, et ju on põhjus selles, et Maud on naine ja kõik need kolm meest just teda ongi siin kõrtsus istudes aastaid oodanud. Aga kohe selgus, et ikka ei olnud. Vaid see meeste elevuse põhjus oli meie keel. Küsisime inglise keeles õlut ja süüa. Üks meestest ütles selle peale inglise keeles, et nemad inglise keelt ei räägi. Ja nõudsid, et me räägiksime flaami keeles. Kehitasime õlgu ja ütlesime, et me ei oska flaami keelt. Mehed olid selle peale pettunud ja isegi kurjad. Ja mulle hakkas sisse tagasi tulema see tunne, et ma ikka ei oskagi rääkida ja olla võõrastele arusaadav. Siis pakkus üks mees, kes oli kõige rohkem hoos, välja, et kas me prantsuse keelt räägime? Ja Maud ütles, et tema veidikene räägib! Paus kestis, selle jooksul kõigi kolme mehe näod moondusid, puhas viha kerkis neile näkku.

„Mida! Flaami keelt ei oska, aga prantsuse keelt räägite küll!" Saime aru, et olime astunud rahvuslikule konnasilmale. Olin juba kindel, et pean hakkama siin Belgia kõrtsus meestega kaklema ja lahkuma kinnipaistetanud silmaga. Kõige kurjem ja aktiivsem mees pöördus nüüd minu poole:

„Kas sina räägid kah prantsuse keelt!" vastasin:

„Ei," ja ma ei valetanud, aga kui oleksin osanud prantsuse keelt, siis vist isegi oleksin valetanud. Mees nõudis edasi, et miks me siis flaami keelt ei oska. Ja mina hakkasin selle peale rääkima eesti keeles:

„Tere-tere, kuidas sul läheb, ära ole nii kuri, mina olen eesti kirjanik Urmas, tema on Maud, väga kena inimene, ma usun, et ka sina oled hea inimene, ja ka sinu kaks sõpra, sinu kaasteelised, tegelikult oleme me kõik vennad ja õed, rahvusel ja keelel polegi tähtsust..." See ajas mehe segadusse, ta pühkis kõrtsust välja, pani enne veel suitsu ette ja sellele tule otsa, puhus pahvaku suitsu lae alla ja ütles inglise keeles:

„Siin me siis Euroopas oleme, isegi suitsetada ei saa!" ilmselgelt olime meie Maud´iga selles süüdi. Mees läks välja, suitsetas närviliselt ja hoidis meil läbi klaasi silma peal. Selgus, et kõrtsis polegi midagi süüa, või öeldi seda ainult meile, kes me ei oska flaami keelt? Õlut siiski anti. Jõime üsna kiiresti oma õllesid, olukord oli pinev, kakluse võimalus seisis ikka veel õhus. Peamees tuli suitsetamast tagasi ja puhus väljas sisse tõmmatus suitsumahvi jälle lae alla. Ju oli see tema protest Euroopa Liidu vastu. Nüüd hakkasid mehed kolmekesi baarileti taga prantsuse keeles rääkima. Mina sellest aru ei saanud, aga Maud´i näost oli näha, et kogu see jutt oli suunatud meile. Maud ei tõlkinud seda mulle, aga ma oletan, et selle sisu oli midagi sellist:

„Huvitav, kust sellised inimesed siia üldse tulevad, kes ei oska flaami keelt... Mis inimesed need sellised üldse on... Uskumatu-uskumatu... Istugu oma Pariisis ja söögu konni ja joogu oma Bordeaux´i, mitte ärge tulge siia meie õlut jooma... Kas sa neile õlle sisse ikka sülitasid... Ei, aga oleks pidanud, oleks pidanud..." Jõime kiiresti oma pudelid tühjaks ja olime valmis lahkuma, aga enne seda sisenes kõrtsu üks naine, kes näis olevat samuti selle kõrtsi regulaarne klient. Mehed selgitasid talle olukorda ja näitasid näpuga Maud´i poole, et tema räägib prantsuse keelt. Naine vangutas etteheitvalt pead. Siis vaatas naine minu poole ja mehed ilmselt ütlesid talle, et see ei oska prantsuse keelt ja ajab suust välja mingit soga. Ja naine naeratas mulle, tõstis pöidla üles ja hüüdis mulle inglise keeles, et minuga on hästi! Käsi ning jalgu appi võttes tegi ta mulle selgeks, et ka tema ei oska prantsuse keelt, ja rõõmustas.

Saime kõrtsist viimaks välja libiseda. Korraga tundus kõik nii kodune. Ja ma mõtlesin, et kas ehk ikka olekski õigem ainult eesti keeles rääkida ja mõelda, et kõik inimesed on eestlased?

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Translation

Home Sweet Denderwindeke

I don't know whether there's something human or Estonian or something unique to me about it, but I'm slightly xenophobic. Nothing to be alarmed at, but I feel uncomfortable in foreign lands and with foreign people. In an airplane, I'm afraid that the plane will crash. I always take an exit-row seat, always read the sheet that describes how to act in case of an emergency. I frequently feel like a lost soul in foreign cities: a suitcase in one hand and a map in the other, searching for where I'm at. When starting to talk to strangers, my greatest fear is that maybe they'll find out right at the start of our conversation that my grade for English in school oscillated between two and three out of five points. And might I, in some rush of desperation, start speaking rather in Estonian, waving my hands and feet wildly? That fear is smaller when I'm speaking with a Finn or a Latvian or a Hungarian, but Brits and French are frightening with their own language. And as I knew in advance that an American woman would be coming to the side room of the Hellebosch creative space at the same time as me, I had a feeling of - just imagine for yourself - unease. Perhaps that unease stems from our, Estonians', historical memory? That when a stranger came into your yard, the person always wanted to either kill you, take your money, your food, or baptize you? And those, who survived were accustomed to running into the forest, climbing a pine tree and waiting until the strangers had left.

But I had now come down from my pine; I stood in a Belgian villa park in the dark of night. In place of pines were beech trees, which a person will hardly climb! And waiting for me in the house is that American woman, who is almost two meters tall: a giantess. She towers above my head, and hers bangs against the ceiling when she stands up straight. And now she's expecting me to come to dinner, she'll pick me up and set me on a chair; I'm so small that my legs won't even touch the ground. She'll tie my hands to the backrest of the chair and start talking about the most mysterious and dusky thing of my childhood - the Cold War. And then it'll turn out that the giantess' father is Ronald Reagan, who is also there in the room, sitting behind a nuclear bomb, and on the table in front of him is a red button, which his gaunt hands are just about to press. And he'll do it immediately if I should do anything wrong during the dinner; whether it's using the fork for the main course with the appetizer, spilling wine onto the tablecloth, answering something incorrectly. The conversation itself will, however, be extremely academic in nature: that giantess will only speak in quotes and expect me to do the same. And those authors that she quotes are all unfamiliar to me, and that angers the woman, and her deranged father even more so, and Reagan is indeed already pressing his red button. I repeated Ginsberg's poem "Holy, holy, holy" over and over in my mind in order to participate in the conversation somehow.

It turned out, however, that Maud is much shorter than I am, and is perhaps one of the most normal people there is. And here, I'd like to share two observations - I had thought that being early middle-aged, I would no longer find any new friends; but what do you know - they certainly can be found. And the second discovery was that I'm able to speak with her! And not just small talk - you give me the bread, I pass you the salt; but about absolutely everything. And it has nothing to do with grammar or vocabulary, but rather a certain common thread that stems from somewhere in your childhood, your environment, your memory. I'd always thought that I never speak at any great length or depth with people that haven't seen the cartoons of my childhood, that haven't been a pioneer while actually hating it the whole time, that haven't purchased unbottled beer in a three-liter jar in their younger days... All of a sudden, that no longer applied, and it was truly freeing. And I felt that I am much less xenophobic.

Maud and I took long walks among the fields; the breeze brought the slight fragrance of manure to the nostrils, a donkey bleated plaintively somewhere. Near our villa was a goose that always screeched maliciously at Maud in particular. Taking walks like that, it felt as if everyone is friends, that nations don't exist, that foreign lands don't exist; but rather everyone are people - even donkeys and ponies and horses, sheep, chickens. And so, we reached the village of Denderwindeke on our walk. For me, the name of that town sounded like some German fairytale, where awaiting us were a woman and a man in traditional costume, garbed in lederhosen and wooden shoes. The village was small and quaint with a church, a store, a tiny bakery and a pub with the sign "Jubilee" on the window. We decided to go in and drink a beer and eat a couple of sandwiches. And so it began. We were received by three men. Two of them sat at the bar, the third sat behind the counter. They had all obviously been sitting there for some time already. The barman himself had likewise tasted his beers - his face was flushed, and it was apparent that he had done that job for already many years. Our arrival incited excitement in the men. I thought at first that the reason was surely because Maud is a woman, and all three of those men have been sitting and waiting in this pub for years, just for her. But it immediately became clear that was not the reason. Rather, the reason for the men's excitement was our language. We asked for beer and food in English. One of the men replied in English that they don't speak English. And they demanded that we speak in Flemish. We shrugged and said we don't speak Flemish. The men were disappointed at that, and even angry. And I started to regain that feeling that I am still unable to speak and be understood by foreigners. Then one man, who was the most riled up, suggested that perhaps we speak French? And Maud said that she speaks it a bit! A pause followed, during which all three men's expressions contorted - pure rage flashed across their faces.

"What! You don't speak Flemish, but French you do!" I realized that we had hit a national nerve. I was already certain that I would have to start fighting the men here in the Belgian pub, and would be leaving with an eye swollen shut. The angriest and most active man now turned and addressed me:

"Do you speak French, too!" I replied:

"No," and I wasn't lying, but if I had been able to speak French, then I probably would have. The man then demanded to know why we don't speak Flemish. And in reply, I began speaking in Estonian:

"Hi, there, how are you doing, don't be so angry, I'm an Estonian writer, Urmas, she is Maud, a very nice person, I believe that you're a good person, too, and your two friends as well, your fellow travelers, we're actually all brothers and sisters, nationality and language have no importance..." That confused the man: he stomped out of the pub, placed a cigarette between his lips before stepping out and lit it, blew a cloud of smoke up to the ceiling and said in English:

"So here we are in Europe, can't even smoke!" It was obvious that Maude and I were to blame for that. The man exited, smoked edgily, and kept his eye on us through the window. It turned out that there was nothing to eat in the pub; or was that only said to us, who didn't speak Flemish? Beer was nevertheless provided. We drank our beers rather quickly: the situation was tense, the possibility of a fight was still hanging in the air. The chief man came back from outside, and once again blew a puff of inhaled smoke up towards the ceiling upon reentering. Doubtless that was his protest against the European Union. The men now began speaking together in French at the bar counter. I didn't understand it, but it was apparent from Maude's face that the entire conversation was directed towards us. Maud didn't translate for me, but I suspect that its content was something as follows:

"I wonder where those kinds of people come from, anyway; the kind that don't speak Flemish... What kinds of people are those, anyway... Unbelievable, unbelievable... Go sit in your Paris and eat frogs and drink your Bordeaux, don't be coming here drinking our beer... Did you still spit in their beer... No, but I should have, I should have..." We drank our bottles down rapidly and were ready to leave, but before we did, a woman that appeared to also be a regular customer at the pub entered. The men explained the situation to her and pointed towards Maud, explaining that she speaks French. The woman shook her head reproachfully. Then, the woman looked towards me, and the men apparently told her that one doesn't speak French, and spews some kind of gibberish from his mouth. And the woman smiled at me, gave me a thumbs-up and shouted to me in English, "I'm doing well!" Using her hands and legs, she conveyed to me that she doesn't speak French either, and beamed.

We were finally able to slip out of the pub. Everything suddenly seemed so quaint. And I wondered: might it just be best to only speak in Estonian and imagine that all people are Estonians?

 


Translated by Adam Cullen

 

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Villa Hellebosch
27.02.12 > 26.03.12

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