Why do I write? Couldn''t I just as well ask: who am I? It is damn complicated, I think. And yet, maybe not. Once I was a tiny little girl in a fishing town I thought was ugly. Nothing more beautiful than garden docks grew there. And the fences were almost in ruins. The houses unpainted. The oldest of ten children in way too small a house. But outside the village were the hillock and a hayfield with buttercups and bluebells. And the sky above. It was beautiful. And that''s how life should be, I felt. Some people were able to keep things pretty, some were not. I found this unjust. The grown ups said it was the rich people who grew flowers and trees and had concrete walls and iron gates surrounding their houses. I didn''t accept this as an explanation. Why didn''t the poor people do something to keep their houses pretty? They just sat and drank coffee. I couldn''t stand it and was cantankerous.
"I always knew my sister Rúna would someday write a trilogy about a broken fence," one of my brothers once said. He was right. It was obvious from the start. I just didn''t know it then. I knew, however, that I was alone inside myself. Terribly alone. No one knew about me in the whole wide world. But people would most definitely learn about me. The loneliness was unbearable. My best friend didn''t help in these matters because you couldn''t talk about such things. And I did all sorts of things to make the world aware of this sad existence. Nobody else would do it anyway. The most obvious things to do were to do well at school; be efficient at sewing, crocheting and knitting; acting in plays. People would notice that. You could also grow flowers on the lawn. They grew rather well no matter what the grown ups said. I sometimes thought they were wrong. And then you could live in your own world, where everything was better. Much better. A world where nobody said this stupid word "cocky," if you said anything at all to those fools. A part of this wonderful world was books. Icelandic books and foreign books. Books about everything under the sun. Books about sorrow and happiness, humiliation and dignity. Books about all the emotions no one could talk about. And meanwhile the loneliness disappeared like a cloud in the sky.
The fences in the town gradually got better and the houses were painted. Now I get the feeling that the beautiful town in which I was born almost mocks me when I visit it. But then I think confidently: "What did I tell you?" I continued to be cantankerous. For years it was my occupation to argue. Sometimes the arguing helped, sometimes it didn''t. Yet, it was necessary. You can''t just drink coffee. Someone has to take action. The other thing troubles me more - the thing about the loneliness. I am no longer afraid that no one knows of my existance! Sometimes it is good, sometimes not as good. It depends on how good a companion I am at each time, and how much I have to spare. And it is precisely then that I write. When I have a lot to spare.
Guðrún Helgadóttir, 2000.
Translated by Jóhann Thorarensen.Back