There are some things I suppose I will never reveal in this blog. Certain feelings. Those feelings go into my stories. Maybe people would prefer to read about those feelings, I don’t know. Maybe not, because strong feelings can be disturbing. But lately I have been thinking that there are even some feelings that I am not yet ready to put into my stories.
I went to Estonia because I wanted to research the childhood of a character in my novel. The places where we grow up give us so many indelible memories and they can shape so many attitudes that I had to see those places for myself.
I was very fortunate to have Irina for my guide because she wanted to take me there and show me all the places she still loved. I found it very moving. But she opened her world to me so completely that I started to feel that to write about it would be a violation.
I have written down the details of course, in my notebook. I am still processing them. The bare facts perhaps don’t seem so very extraordinary. But somehow they are gnawing away at me every day, changing me.
On 20 August 1991 Estonia declared itself independent of Russia for the second time in its history. Irina was on her favourite beach at the time. She listened briefly to the news on the radio, wondering if she would have to join in the fighting. She knew how to use a Kalashnikov and would kill if she had to. But the coup was without bloodshed and so she carried on sunbathing as if nothing had happened.
Maybe nothing really had happened. In her heart, she had become independent long before, through that long trail of bare facts and unextraordinary details. That’s where the real story lies.