Author: Hannu Salama

End of the carnival

Issue 4/1991 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extract from the novel Ottopoika (‘Otto the adopted’: Otava, 1991). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka

Verily, verily, keep peace with your God!

The way people are arranged in the courtroom means that Joseph Vissarionovich finds himself in the dock. All right, never mind, if they want to play games with Stalin: they’ll soon find out who comes off second best, very much second best.

The former politburo, led by Trotsky, has occupied the right wing of the front bench. Tanya, the girl from Petersburg, is sitting by Rykov, with her artificial leg under her arm, stuffing her pigtail in her mouth; she giggles and tries to stuff the other pigtail into Rykov’s mouth. Not succeeding, she spits in his face and pulls her skirt over her ears, revealing a small reddish quim. The 1925 politburo appears unmoved, but Trotsky jerks round enough for Stalin to see the axe sticking out of the back of his neck. Meanwhile, a susurrus of tut-tuttings goes round the courtroom. More…

The funeral

Issue 4/1988 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Hannu Salama’s short story Hautajaiset (‘The funeral’) – taking place in Pispala, Tampere – in the volume Kesäleski, ‘Summer widow’, was published in 1969. Introduction by Pekka Tarkka

On Tuesday Venla came round: as Sulo was being lowered into the grave Vihtori had had a heart attack. The next day a letter arrived from father: funeral on Sunday, and Gunilla and Timo want you to speak at the grave. I telegraphed back: ‘Vikki too close to me. Unable to speak.’ Outside the post office I realised I could have sent fifty words for the same money.

Irma ordered a flower arrangement. Did I want to put an inscription? Part of the last stanza of a revolutionary song went through my head:

Sowing makes the corn come into ear:
Hundredfold higher that happier age will be.

I said not to put anything, I’d say something at the grave if it seemed the thing to do. I told her to put mother’s, father’s and Heikki’s names on, and we’d take these off if they’d sent their own wreath. More…