Monday, May 28, 2012

Life is stranger than fiction

One of my favourite films, Magnolia, (directed by one of the those directors whose films I always want to see as soon as they are released, Paul Thomas Anderson) starts with three stories full of coincidences. Each ending with a haunting narrator voice saying: "And I would like to think this was all only a matter of chance."
Sometimes I feel the same way. It could be said that some of life's strange events could be used as a material for creative work. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction.
In the turn of August, 1991, me and a friend of mine were on InterRail around Europe for three weeks. At one point we took a night train and bought tickets to the sleeping cart. There must have been four other people we didn't know in the same cabin. In the morning, when the train was getting closer to the final station in Holland, one of the people pointed outdoors, showing buildings near the tracks. There were five high blocks of flats, all different colours. "There are lots of students living in them", the man said.
Almost two years passed. I graduated and started my mandatory military service. Towards the end of my service I saw a notice in the newspaper about this new international business studies program. Half would be in Finland, half in Holland. I applied and was accepted.
Already the first semester was in Holland. After arriving in Holland, we were taken to our accommodation from school. And guess what? My room was in one of those colourful buildings. The same ones the man in the train had pointed over two years before.
My dad died in August 1995 of cancer, after a battle that had lasted two years and nine months, somewhat thousand nights. In the weeks he was getting close to death, a slow song named Tuhat yötä hit the Finnish charts. The song title translated to English would mean Thousand Nights. Telling a story about someone being awake for someone for thousand nights. That's how I felt then. The song hit the number 1 spot two weeks after dad's death.
When me and my sister were going through dad's younghood belongings our grandmother had given us after he had passed, we found some short stories dad had written as a young man, around age 20. Some had been published in a regional newspaper in the region he grew up. One of the stories mentioned a character dying on the last Sunday of August. Dad died on the last Sunday of August.
World is small. Only seven billion people in it. Around 5,4 billion in the early 1990's when my sister traveled to Australia to meet some relatives and travel around. She traveled to Ayers Rock in Central Australia. One evening she spent time with fellow travelers, started talking to this German girl. After hearing my sister was from Helsinki, the girl mentioned she had a pen pal there. Told what her name was. My sister said, one of her best friends had the same name. The girl picked up her address book and showed the girl's address. The pen pal and the best friend were the same person.

And I would like to think this was all only a matter of chance.
Or was it?
This cannot be "one of those things..."
Or maybe it was.
Strange things happen all the time.

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