Stories of a Hundred Nations


A fairy tale about warm light.

A fairy tale about the hundred faces
of loneliness.

A reflective fairy tale about your life.

A fairy tale about the Tooth Fairy.

A fairy tale about people and money,
with a happy ending.

A fairy tale about sad playgrounds.

A fairy tale about the need
for achievement.

A fairy tale about a major artist
and a minor artist.

A fairy tale about a city or a town or an
island or—God forbid—even a kingdom,
to which someone forms a very special
and, at least at first sight, inexplicable
bond. If the person is lucky enough to go
there once, to spend a little time there, to
simply wander around and breathe it in,
then later, he or she can’t so much as hear
its name without feeling the knife twist
in the wound; especially since in spite of
every good intention (I’ll make a point
of learning the local language; we’ll keep
in touch, dear friends; I’ll come and visit
often—yeah, for sure, very often, naturally;
I simply couldn’t have it any
other way), life leads him or her away
from that place, like from a first love.
And that person is ashamed of being powerless
to do anything; ashamed of letting
life run him or her over time and again.
Sometimes, that person even feels like a
martyr—which is a much better feeling!
But that sense of longing persists above
all; an intense longing and a hazy notion
that if he or she had been capable, if he
or she had gotten the upper hand over
fate, then everything would be completely
different right now; everything would be
much better. That person would be happy.
Life would be beautiful.

A very long fairy tale about jealousy.

A vitally important fairy tale about
where and why empathy was lost.

A fairy tale about collaboration, with
unsuspected twists. Misunderstandings,
misinterpretations, sorry, but no one
told me, lags, listen don’t be mad but I
actually can’t, loss of interest, bungles,
our rhythms simply don’t match, no,
I understand, of course, spontaneity is
often the key to success, but, well, we
should still put some kind of a plan in
place, right? As strange as it may seem,
the collaborators very often achieve some
result, against all odds; something is produced,
beauty or order or another thing
that lies more towards the plus-side of life
is added to the world, notwithstanding.
The world is full of miracles?

A fairy tale, the teller of which is prepared
for anything, absolutely anything—if only
the kid would quit making a racket.

An unusual fairy tale about an absolutely
ordinary family. They lived and loved,
worked hard to earn their daily bread
for the table, fought like cats and dogs
on Saturdays, never especially wronged
anyone, and died in the end. A beautiful
life, in reality; but one that is quite
rarely told in fairy tales, for some reason.

A fairy tale about how information
technology is always good. Information
technology is the utmost expression of
progress, the investment for a bright
future, the apotheosis of the capability
of the human mind, and whoever doesn’t
understand that should go throw
themselves off a cliff.

A fairy tale about how once, people came
together and started looking for the best
way to structure society. They searched
and they searched, but couldn’t find one.
Each one went back to living on his or
her own again.

A bitter fairy tale about insults.
The positive protagonists get over
feeling insulted easily, just like they
always get over everything. The negative
ones don’t, of course—the insult poisons
them, eats away at them, incites them
to plot revenge, and takes away their lives
and their best years. At the same time,
no matter—better half an egg than an
empty shell, et cetera. And what’s really
the difference—everyone is going to
die in the end, anyway. When even the
Sun finally goes out.

Translated by Adam Cullen

First published in the Estonian Literary Magazine

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