Iowa Writes

SAJID SARKER
Excerpt from No More Sweden


Midsommar had marked the longest day in the middle of summer, when there had been twenty hours of daylight and four hours of darkness.  Father and I had stayed up together then swathed in blankets, drinking coffee in the garden, and within the space of a few short hours we observed both sunset and sunrise.  The days began to grow shorter since then.  On the eve of my departure, everything was full of splendour.
        My cousin and I walked together down the path east to the lake.  We chased frogs together, trying and failing to capture any.  We picked blueberries and raspberries and lingonberries from the bushes lining the narrow gravel path and stained our hands a juicy red from our gluttony.  My cousin enacted a deep violence against the obsidian slugs encountered along the way.  With fallen twigs, he pierced the ear on the side of their heads with such a great pressure that they curled into balls and slimed profusely.  When the force grew intolerable, their inner green bodies erupted through their rear-ends.  A separation of slug from skin.  An act of apathetic cruelty.  He had laughed, and on the pretext of my disgust at the biological, I asked him to cease this genocide.  The walk was calming, but the burden of impending loss was now omnipresent.  This unparalleled beauty, this blessed land, an idyllic life on a mountain with my family, was what I would be leaving behind in a rite of passage in pursuit of University.  An inevitability of my life's ambition.
        We had arrived at the lakefront leaving behind slug cadavers in our wake.  The waters were calm.  A blue vibrancy imaginable only by the mind of God.  The verdant mountains of ancient grey stone encircled the lake at Tyresö only to open at a distant point on the horizon between the feet of two sloping hills.  Therein the sky kissed Baltic waters with the blessing of the midnight's sun.  I did not enjoy the company of my cousin so much that day.  His well-intentioned adventuring set me apart from him.  I did not belong to Sweden, nor did Sweden belong to me.  I was the consummate foreigner who settled there recently for just a couple of years, only to be uprooted again across the Atlantic.  My cousin, however, was born and raised a Swede.

Midsommar had marked the longest day in the middle of summer, when there had been twenty hours of daylight and four hours of darkness.  Father and I had stayed up together then swathed in blankets, drinking coffee in the garden, and within the space of a few short hours we observed both sunset and sunrise.  The days began to grow shorter since then.  On the eve of my departure, everything was full of splendour.
        My cousin and I walked together down the path east to the lake.  We chased frogs together, trying and failing to capture any. We picked blueberries and raspberries and lingonberries from the bushes lining the narrow gravel path and stained our hands a juicy red from our gluttony.  My cousin enacted a deep violence against the obsidian slugs encountered along the way.  With fallen twigs, he pierced the ear on the side of their heads with such a great pressure that they curled into balls and slimed profusely.  When the force grew intolerable, their inner green bodies erupted through their rear-ends.  A separation of slug from skin.  An act of apathetic cruelty.  He had laughed, and on the pretext of my disgust at the biological, I asked him to cease this genocide.  The walk was calming, but the burden of impending loss was now omnipresent.  This unparalleled beauty, this blessed land, an idyllic life on a mountain with my family, was what I would be leaving behind in a rite of passage in pursuit of University.  An inevitability of my life's ambition.
        We had arrived at the lakefront leaving behind slug cadavers in our wake.  The waters were calm.  A blue vibrancy imaginable only by the mind of God.  The verdant mountains of ancient grey stone encircled the lake at Tyresö only to open at a distant point on the horizon between the feet of two sloping hills.  Therein the sky kissed Baltic waters with the blessing of the midnight's sun.  I did not enjoy the company of my cousin so much that day.  His well-intentioned adventuring set me apart from him.  I did not belong to Sweden, nor did Sweden belong to me.  I was the consummate foreigner who settled there recently for just a couple of years, only to be uprooted again across the Atlantic.  My cousin, however, was born and raised a Swede.
        We sat in silence on the floating steps and dipped our feet into the waters.  Together, we were alone.  In the solace of our minds, we were just like the mountains, majestic and apart.  His cruelty had marked his land, while I had left it untouched and unsettled.  Strands of kelp tangled themselves between my toes.  The cousin uprooted these too, with his feet, and brought them to his mouth and chewed on them.  Kelp glistened like shining lime in his open mouth.  Truly, Sweden was his.
        At this precipice of lake and mountain, water and sky, settling and departure, I longed more strongly than ever to stay and forget about my Education.
        "Hej, don't worry, you'll be back for next Midsommar," said cousin, "och den vi kan hoppa på Svenska flickan!"
        "I'll come see you and the Grand Canyon and Times Square, det vet du bror!" he added.
        I felt a pang in my stomach that had nothing to do with lust or hunger.  I cleared my throat.
        "For me? There's no more Sweden," I said.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


SAJID SARKER

Sajid Sarker is an international student from Bangladesh, studying Economics at the Henry B. Tippie College of Business.  "Excerpt from No More Sweden" is from a larger piece he wrote when he delved into Creative Non-Fiction Writing for the first time.  His fiction has previously appeared in Stockhom, Sweden publications.

This page was first displayed
on December 11, 2014

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