My alarm is beeping. It beeps with the same accent, and conveys the same message here in Asia as back in Finland. Its message is not a question with rising intonation, but a plain command in the imperative form.
I sit up and place my feet into terry-cloth hotel slippers. Luckily every hotel offers them, as I don’t carry my own pair of birch bark shoes with me. I grab my open book, which is not an illustrated copy of Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, from the night stand and put it into my bag.
The hem of my bathrobe swishes as I swerve into the bathroom. I brush my hair and stop to look at myself in the mirror. I am the Finnish Maiden. My contours form the map of Finland as I stretch my arm up high. A smile appears in the Lapland area, because my inner motherland is celebrating. There they raise their glasses together, inside me, liver, pancreas and my heart, for the birthday of Finland.
I place the whole of Central Finland in an armchair and switch on my phone in order to check my e-mails. The welcome tone makes me feel at home.
At dinner the previous night, the Chinese waiter asked, “Where from?”
“From Finland!” we replied.
His face beamed like a half moon. “YES. I know Helsinski!”
”Yes, yes.” We continued flipping through the pages of the menu until he came back to share his knowledge with us, and pulled out a phone from his pocket. “Helsinski. Noooogiiiiaaa!”
My kidneys nudged my heart and caused a slight flimmer in the left atrium. I pulled out my Nokia from my Marimekko bag, and waved it in the air. “Yes, yes. Me too!”
The whole of Finland must now get up from the yellow, soft armchair, as it is time to go to work. I switch off my phone and slip into my blue-and-white uniform. I apply lipstick around the Ivalo area, and glance around the room to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. A Fazer chocolate wrapper rolled into a ball glimmers in the waste bin. It’s not a guilty revelation, but the simple truth that once again, at the end of the night my stomach had set off an alarm demanding something deliciously sweet!
I shut the door quietly, and pull my trolley bag along the corridor towards my homeland. I push the button. The elevator comes promptly, and I step onboard, nodding politely, “Good morning everybody.” I see Ivalo’s red morning smile in the mirror, and “KONE” written above the push buttons. My pancreas gives my liver a gentle push and winks, “Another Finn!”
Other Maidens of Finland wait in the lobby, and in spite of the subtle lighting, they appear blue-and-white. I can’t help thinking that the lamps must be of Finnish design too.
It must be clear to you by now that I don’t look at the world through rose-colored glasses. My Finland is international, but nevertheless Finnish.
The Finnish Maiden is a birthday girl today.
When all of us participate, we can blow out the birthday candles in one go. That way, we can make at least one wish come true, right?