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by Else Olsvig Length: 22:55 Original language: Greenlandic This piece was produced as part of the radiofeature/documentary project RANA. RANA is funded through EU´s Lifelong learning program. More information about the RANA project can be found on http://www.this.is/rana
Sound of decanter Julie: In my grandfathers house, there was a decanter, that was put in the big bookcase. I think it was used for cognac. It is made of glass, and it has a winder on the bottom. Inside the decanter, there is made a bubble of class, and inside it, there is a couple, that begins to dance when you turn on the winder. When I was little I use to think that the dancing couple inside the decanter was just amazing. I use to turn on the winder, and when I did it, grandmum and granddad use to say that I should be very careful. But I really liked to play with it, because it was just so amazing. Then I inherited the decanter later. Sometimes I think, that it is quite odd that somebody could make something like that, putting such a happy dancing couple inside a bottle of class, you put alcohol in... hahaha. Its a kind of odd I think. Sounds of cutting paper We are hearing the artist Julie Edel Hardenberg, born in 9th of march 1971 in Nuuk. She tells her story.... Julie: I grew up in 1970´s. I remember growing up at my grandmothers and grandfathers house. My mother was a single mom, so I grew up there with my many aunt and uncles. It was very safe and happy. Me and mom had our own bedroom, and when I was 3, mom had another daughter. Mother worked very hard, eehm, so our grandparents have been very important persons in our childhood. They were always at home, they looked after us, when we got home from the kindergarden. We lived in Tuapannguit blok S. Apartment number 203. The apartments were very new back then. Many Greenlanders, many Nuuk citizins and those that has moved from outside lived there. Everything was new. And when I should play with the other kids I just go through the corridors and knocked on their doors. And when we played outside, our grandparents could just go outside to the balcony and shout that it is time to go home. It was a lot of fun, I remember it well.
Sound of keys Julie: My grandfather’s name is Joorut. Jørgen Andreas Berthelsen. Everyone in town used to call him Big Joorut. I used to think that they meant something bad when they called him that, because –ssuaq seems to mean something bad. But when I got older, I understood that they called him that, because he was such a nice and friendly person. He worked in the cinema for many years. When we went to see a movie, he was the one who checked all the tickets. Yes, he was one of the well known persons in Nuuk. He has meant a lot in my life. When I was little I used to think; if he dies, I will die with him. I loved him that much. I grew up without a father, so though I knew that grandpa was not my father I saw him as my own father. He was such a magnificent man, very friendly. We spent a lot of the time together – me and grandpa. Perhaps I spent more time with him than I spent time with my own mother. He was always there when I wake up in the morning, eating his breakfast. And when I got home from the kindergarden - he is there. He was home in the evenings too. Grandpa and grandmom were always there, it is true. If you needed someone to comfort you, you just went to them. Although there were difficult times sometimes - difficult times, were few compared to happy times. My grandfather was very important when I came to that point, because he was a rock, and never drank. He looked after us. We knew he was always the same person and would never change. That meant a lot for my life and my understanding of life. To the person I wanted to become, it is true - to the person I want to look at in the mirror. It was very important. Sound of keys Julie: The big bookcase has always been quite visible in my life - because it is mine now. The bookcase is made of dark wooden tree, with beautiful carvings. I remember that the drawers on the bottom had no handles, but could be opened with keys. Me and my sister used to try to open them with our little fingers. And when we succeeded opening the doors, we found hundreds of old newspapers, granddad and grandmom had collected over the years. And when I opened the drawers, hundreds of old keys appeared, keys that grandfather had collected over the years too, through his work. What if somebody somehow suddenly needs them? You never know. So even they did not know which key was to which door. Sound of keys Julie: I remember when we went to take a walk. I remember that grandfather used to take all the flags down at the old part of the city every evening. The flag, outside the church and the one that hangs on the other side of the old baggery. And I always went with him when he did that. And later when the former Drop In opened, the one that was just beside the Kamikshop, grandpa use to go there, to eat some sausages, 2 sausage with one pjece of bread. And I was so lucky to get soft ice...hahaha. So grandpa and me used to go there to get goodies, secretly, of course. And sometimes I was a pest. I used to beg him for 2 kroner or 3 kroner everyday. Back then 5 kroner was a lots of money. Grandmom use to sit and look out the kitchen window, just beside the stove, and listen to me begging and pestering grandpa to get the money. When it became too
much, she interfered. And when she did that, we began to communicate and negotiate with our eyes only - silently. When grandpa showed that he said no, well after grandma has demanded that he would not give me anything, I began to make noise and walk restlessly around the apartment until grandpa gave up in the end, and he went outside the apartment just to hand over the 2 kroner – of course, without grandmom noticing. Hihihi. Music Julie: My grandmother’s name is Julie Berthelsen. They have named me after my grandmom. My grandmom’s maiden name was Barlaj. And as far as I can remember, grandmother came from a settlement called Uummanna near Nuuk, and grew up in another settlement called Nuup Narsaa. Grandmother told that there once was an outbreak of tuberculoses in her childhood. She had 5 sisters and brothers. Their father and his wife and 2 of the children died of the disease. So when they became orphans, grandmom and her 3 sisters and brothers were adopted by other families, separatly. Grandmom moved to Nuuk and started an education as midwife later, at the old hospital. It was during 2. World War, when American soldiers were stationed in Nuuk. The Americans were very happy to visit the old hospital, and some of them had given grandmom some small gifts. That made grandfather - who was a young man then, very anxious, so he asked grandmother to marry him, and she said yes and stopped her education because she got married. Grandmom showed me one of the gifts from the American soldiers, a small powderbox, with a little mirror in it. I inherited it later and its still here. Hehe. Song ends Julie: First - when he was put to the hospital for observation, I came down to visit him. I got very surprised to see how ill he looked. I was about 13 or 14 years old then, and knew that old people used to get sick and were admitted to the hospital for a while until they felt ok again. I remember that the room was dark, but I don’t remember how the weather was, because the curtains were down. All his bedclothes were white, he was also wearing a white hospitalpyjamas, and I dont remember if he was wearing his old, big glasses or not. I just remember that his hair has gotten quite wispy. He use to use hairwax to keep his hair steady and shiny. And I noticed that he had got quite thinner. He was alone in this room. And I remember all these rubber tubes that were linked to him. I don’t remember whether they were put into his nose or into his arms. Well, I was about to cry and got very afraid and scared, but I bottled it up. I think I kissed him on his forehead, because he was my grandfather and I loved him. He was very happy to see me. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I think that he said my nickname: Paneeraq ( little daughter). My family calls me Paneeraq. I don’t remember what we talked about. But sometimes when we were together, we just sat there and said nothing, but just enjoy each other’s company. Sound of decanter Julie: I went home at the end of that evening. The next day I went straight over to grandmother´ s house after school, I was going to get some cleaning equipment to clean up mother´ s apartment before arrival. When I got into my grandparents apartment I saw grandpa was home. He was
lying on the sofa. I thought he was well again and is back home again. I was in a such a hurry so I did not hug and kiss him. I was going to do it when I got back again. Mmm.. I cleaned the apartment. And afterwards I went sailing with my friends because they invited me to sail with them on their boat. The weather was so good so we sailed around and when we got back my friend´s father informed me that my grandfather was dead, and I had to hurry home. I think it was there he informed me about it. I was of course very shocked, because I just saw him earlier that day and then he seemed ok. Sound of decanter Julie: I went straight down to the hospital. It was quite shocking, he was ok, last time I left him. The next time I saw him he saw dead. He was already cold and stiff. I remember kissing him on his forehead, it was so stiff and cold. It was very odd. I heard that he had called for me and asked for me all day. He was buried a few days after. There were so many people at his funeral. Sound of decanter Julie: But I was there when grandmother past away. I was there when she took her last breath. I dont know how many times they thougt that this was it for grandmother. I dont know how many times I left my studies in Finland to be there on her deathbed. My family used to call and say that grandmother´s time was near and I had to hurry home. Usually I went with my tears ready in my throat., because I was afraid that I might not be there when she past away, just like I was not there when grandpa died. When I arrived I would go straight down to her at the hospital, and later on she would get well again...hahaha....I dont know how many times she did that. The doctors and others used to say that her time was near. But she never died, but just got better and better between the illnesses. I used to say that she was playing precious for granddad. Because ladies are known to be precious. Maybe granddad was calling for her - from the other side and she was playing precious with him....hahaha.... I used to say that. But then she got ill. It was during my summervacation. They admitted her to the hospital, and we thought that she would get alright again. But one day she fell asleep. It was obvious that her time was getting closer and closer. My mother’s sister was at her side almost all the time. Then I went down to the hospital that afternoon. My cousin came too. And when we came, my aunt went home to rest a little. I sat down facing grandmother, my back facing the windows. My cousin sat himself on the other side of the bed. And grandmother was breathing just like this......(demonstrates the breathing). She breathes in and…(long pause) breathes out like this. Very long. Every time we thought that this is it. She continued breathing like this many times. At the end it began to sound as if she was suffering. When she breathes in.....(long pause)....it was just like she went into some area no human can reach. Ah, ah, aaah, ah - It was as if she went into the world of the dead and then came back to this world, between her breaths. It was frightening every time. At the very end she breathed in. (demonstrates the breathing in). And when the time came she did not breath out. Her breath did not come. But her face......(long pause)......I was looking at her face. I saw ...how she in a most beautiful way stepped into the world of the dead. It was as if, all of a sudden, all the blood
disappeared from her face at the same time. I saw her die in a very beautiful and peaceful way......(begins to cry after a long pause).........I thought that she had reached grandfather by that time.....(long pause)...death was not so frightening at that point. It was very beautiful. Seeing a human die that way. Seeing that she was not alone, that there was something spiritual there at the moment. Her face seemed to be suffering so hard, when she was breathing. And then afterwards you can only see peace in her face, you can feel it. It was incredible. The End
©2008 RANA/Else Olsvig
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