“A passenger ferry, the Estonia, sank last night in the Baltic Sea. The mayday signal was lost at 01.35. They’re not saying it is »believed to have sunk’. They’re saying it has sunk. I don’t believe it. No, not at all. My hand presses against my mouth, stifling the sound about the splutter out.
And all of a sudden the kitchen is flooded with seawater. A sunken ship. A hand reaches up to the curtains to try and pull them together, trying to hide the house and protect it from the sea that can be seen through the window. The cup that had been in the hand’s path falls over, rolls to the edge of the table and shatters on the floor. Does this have to happen now, what with the new house and everything? Did my sister have to call me right now? My half-sister.
I sit on the kitchen floor, seawater lapping around my groin, and gather up the shards of broken china. I wade into the living room, water up to my thighs.”
Niila Kamsu is a man whose best friend is a squirrel. Over twenty years earlier, a train carried Kamsu from northern Finland to the shipyards of the south. A woman was left behind. One September night, the passenger ferry Estonia sinks to the bottom of the Gulf of Finland. Kamsu realizes that he, too, is in danger of sinking under the pressures of a changing world. Necessity drives him back north, back to the woman. Katja Kettu’s narration gushes up from the cavities of soul and earth, from the places where God does not see. Guilt accompanies Kamsu southwards and follows him northwards, a shadow: are we ever truly free to go?