XVII Saaremaa, Estonia 1992

One evening I arrive unexpectedly in Aliide’s cottage in my well-travelled Opel.

She knew me when I was a child, but I haven’t met her since I was a teenager. The first thing I notice, is the fear in her eyes. Her hands move restlessly. She keeps observing me, not exactly knowing what I think of her now, immediately after the collapse of Soviet Union. Back then she had used her benefits of belonging to the Communist party without hesitation.

When she discovers that I am not judging her, she attacks me, openly and aggressively. She doesn’t approve my car, my cigarettes, my home address, the music I write is wrong, the literature I read is wrong, the radio is wrong, Estonia is in peril, and earlier things were better, much better.

I don’t respond. It confuses her. She tries to attack me again, but then suddenly withdraws to her chamber and returns sluggish. A TV rattles in the corner, Mitterrand’s well-carved words about French-Baltic friendship.

And next – she treats me as if I were her best friend.

She’s got two cats. When the night falls, she goes and fetches them down from blossoming apple trees. She wraps the cats in towels, brings them in, and warms them next to the oven. From their swaddling clothes they follow me with their sleepy, scanning eyes. Then she goes to feed the wild cats on the fields behind the house. I see from the window, how in the hay around her crooked back dance tens of black questioning marks.

Then it is completely dark.

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