As Frost Appeared, Blues Arose

The Gothenburg Tales

Kovuuri G. Reddy
Wordsmith Library

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The Gothenburg Tales (Photo by Kovuuri G. Reddy)

Advent has begun. Winter has established. But it was a bright morning. The sun blazed. A young father of two children on paternity leave advanced the first outing for the day. He dressed the kids and prodded them to sit in the pram; they reluctantly obliged. They ventured out: the father to embrace the sun and apparently the kids to play.

A middle-aged mother of a toddler son, too, stepped out, lured by the sun. She was on a part-time maternity leave; she cherished the unexpected motherhood.

Their destination was the park by Haga Kyrkan the church. Next to the church is a children’s park, where parents confidently loosened the parental leash. The park is rimmed by wooden barricades, where unleashed dogs also shied away to enter out of a civic consideration for their meat-or-bone giving humans.

The sun shone in brilliance.

Gloriously sunny, the young father thought, but it was chilly. Sunniness and chilliness pierced the air dominating one over the other like husband and wife. By the time he reached the park, he felt the chilliness more than the sunniness.

The sunniness failed to erase the frost. The frost tinged the leaves and painted the grass. The ground with the growth of plants or with fallen leaves glistened.

The frost.

That frost.

The first frosty day of the winter. The father allowed the children to jump out of the pram; they motioned out like an earthworm. He sat on a bench as the children inched towards a slide and a see-saw. His vision was filled with the frosted grass and leaves.

The frost.

That frost.

The sight of the frost, the atmospheric moisture crystallizing on the ground as a result of subfreezing temperatures, unleashed the blues. He closed his eyes and started to scrape his face and pull the hairs on his head that was as lush as the mane of a horse.

The middle-aged mother entered the park with her pram after using the toilet in the Haga Church. She liked the sight of this church. As a school-going girl, she had sung in the church choir and had been part of its Baroque Repertoire. She remained a steadfast agnostic but her church-going past was more cultural, educational, social aspects of upbringing, and musical. The neo-Gothic church has a baroque Brombaugh organ; she had aspired to make a career in music but lately realised she had no talent.

* * *

Haga Church was designed by A. W. Edelsvard who also designed the Central Station, St Bridget’s Chapel and St Andrew’s Church in Gothenburg. The neo-Gothic church was opened on the first Advent Sunday in 1859.

Over the years the church was regularly renovated. In the 21st century, the church service includes less speech and more music.

‘The music touches people deeper than words can.’

The church welcomes all, open to all, irrespective of one’s origin, gender, sexual orientation, also for those needy people, physically or socially or spiritually.

* * *

She noticed the young father with the two children. She recognised him. They lived in the same apartment, which was in a sought-after commercial-cum-residential-building in the 400-year-old city. The building is known for its historicity, location, quality of construction and astronomical price.

The toddler son of the mother gingerly stepped towards the slide where the other two children started to climb. The mother noticed the father of the other children. Sitting on a bench, he was now tilting his head to this side and that side and pulling his hairs vigorously. She went closer to him; he was oblivious of her. Her left hand gently touched his shoulder. A spirit moved her agnostic spirit. (The Holy Spirit, life’s innermost love, unites heaven and earth, God and (wo)man, (wo)man and (wo)man.) Tenderly, she said, “We will be okay.”

The father raised his head, craning at the mother’s face, radiating in the reflection of the sun, with his lost face. “You too.”

“We are humans,” she muttered, “to have those feelings. The blues.” The feelings of deep sadness for known and known reasons, which arose at the sighting of something or not sighting something. Why is it?

Her touch of empathy assuaged him: an angel amid blues. He struggled to smile with his blinking eyes, frosted, while the smile on her face flickered in his frosty eyes.

The bells tolled in the church: Tintinnabulation.

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Kovuuri G. Reddy
Wordsmith Library

Independent journalist; short, short story writer; living in Sweden. Worked as a broadcast journalist and teaching journalsim and media in England and India.