Author: Markus Nummi

Conversations with a horse

Issue 4/2004 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Kiinalainen puutarha (‘The Chinese garden’, Otava, 2004). Introduction by Anna-Leena Nissilä

Colonel Mannerheim.
Near Kök Rabat, on the caravan route between Kashgar and Yarkand.
October 1906

It is growing dark. Let the others go on ahead. Let us wait here awhile. Perhaps the pain will go over. We’ll get through.

Steady, Philip.

You always obey. And listen. Your ears proudly, handsomely pricked.

Steady, I said, there in the garden. No reaction. Everyone was moving. Pure comedy. And something else.

An illusion, two girls. Then gone.

How to explain.

Before that. I had a conversation with Macartney, the British chargé d’affaires…

Pain…. It burns, now it burns again. Let us wait now, Philip. Steady, steady now. More…

The pursuit of happiness

Issue 2/1996 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novella Ilo (‘Joy’, Helsinki Media, 1995)

‘The flower is a characteristic feature of the highest group of the plant kingdom – the flowering plants – and is the name given to the association or organs, more or less leaf-like in form, which are concerned with the production of the fruit or seed.’
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910

The encyclopedia made us happy. But what was happiness? That the encyclopedia did not say. You had to set out to look for it. Our exploratory party represented the highest achievements of the field: it would be difficult to find a more serious or committed group.

When we waved to the people cheering on the quay, we were overcome by a strange feeling. It was as if we had already arrived. I made the mistake of speaking my thought aloud.

‘It will all end in tears,’ remarked our welfare officer, Mrs Rose. The atmosphere was ruined. What a pity that our quick-witted Doctor Stratelli was not present at that moment! For it was he who solved the problem of happiness.


Adieu, Paris!

Issue 4/1994 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

One day an Indian physicist discovers that Paris has disappeared – or, in the words of the French government, has been relocated: ‘it now exists not merely in one place, but in many, perhaps not precisely here or there, but to some extent everywhere’. Extracts from the novel Kadonnut Pariisi (‘Paris lost’, Otava, 1994)

The news of the disappearance of Paris was, at first, an item in the remotest corners of the foreign news pages of the newspapers and in the light feature at the end of the television news – those absurd little stories: an elephant’s escape from the zoo, the mother of four who beat the world record for toothbrush-swallowing or the suicide of a news reporter in the middle of a television broadcast.

Professor Ansari, an Indian physicist, had developed a method for the extremely accurate measurement of the mass of the Earth. His conclusion was that the Earth weighed too little. And, by an extraordinary coincidence, the missing mass was approximately the same as the estimated mass of Paris. The physicist was foolish enough to make his result public and to utter the fateful words: ‘Well, of course the simplest explanation would be that Paris is missing. That it doesn’t exist any more.’ A news item on the subject in the ‘Crazy World’ column concluded with the remark: ‘Professor Ansari is continuing the development of his theory in the government mental asylum in Delhi.’ More…