Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The reason for moving to Finland?

Many people have asked both Jacob and me why we moved to Finland in 1984?

It is difficult to give a straight answer, but there were several contributing factors, but none of them were individually strong enough to the decision. 

There was another reason which we discovered much later!

The first reason was the terrible time I went through being subjected to a false charge by the Bangalore Police which had dragged on for 5 years. I was subjected to much humiliation. But it ended with the Police withdrawing all charges against me and acting as my defenders, but then I was subjected to harassment by the Indian judicial system! 

In itself it made me make a decision halfway through this episode that I wanted to leave India!

Jacob was being harassed by a totally corrupt Karnataka bureaucracy, and fight as he would, there was no way around this very public battle. It sort of made him decide that he was not doing anything constructive in Karnataka, and if he wanted to preserve his integrity and honesty, there was no other way than to go somewhere his work and talents would be judged on its merits. 

So he met Karnataka Member of Parliament, S. M. Krishna, who was then Union Minister of State for Finance in New Delhi, and explained the reasons why he was pulling out and moving to pastures where he had an even chance of succeeding.

The third reason was that both Jacob and I felt that our children had received and accepted their roots in India, and we both felt that they should be given a chance to understand their roots in Finland. So, if there was an option, we felt we should allow them a reasonable period for them to appreciate this. 

The children loved their life in India and they had a close bond with their paternal grandparents, so it was a very difficult decision for them.

We waited for Susanna to finish her School and after that, we felt it was time to move as I received my freedom in March 1984.

So we processed all our papers by mid April 1984 but with no job under the belt for either of us in Finland, trusting in our Lord, we set off to Finland. 

We were welcomed by my parents in their home in Oulu, Finland. It was a small house but we settled in into an upstairs corner with our own kitchen, a living room and two small attic bedrooms.

The children were back in Finnish schools in August, but it became very obvious that Susanna, who had to move into the High School system of Finland to get into University, would not be able to survive the three  years.

Since Susanna was born in England in the 60s, she had her British Passport. When one of her classmate friends from India invited Susanna to come to England, we made the decision that for her future, she should move to England and continue her studies there.

This was the first time one of our family was leaving us, and both Jacob and I were heart-broken, but we knew that we had to be concerned about Susanna's future and not our feelings.

So in November 1984, 8 months after our shift to Finland, Susanna moved to England.

Jacob had not yet got a job, but God looked after us in may ways and we were able to survive those 8 months. 

By 1985 April it became obvious that our elder son, Jaakko. was also having problems with the Finnish education system, so when he finished his middle school, we allowed him to join Susanna in England, as he too had been born in England and held a British Passport.

This was again a big emotional blow for all of us, as Jaakko was the life and soul of our family, but his future decided our action.

By that time Jacob had got a job in the Unversity of Oulu as an assistant Researcher and as Scientific Editor of English publications for the Microelectronics Laboratory. It became obvious he was outstanding in his job so he was firmly entrenched in the University, but I was keen to reunify our family.

So in the summer of 1986, I shifted, with the two younger children to Birmingham, England where Susanna and Jaakko were now well established.

Jacob came to England in September, but he was not happy with life in England and our circumstances, while he was doing so well in Oulu. We decided that I would return with the two younger children to Finland. We returned in November 1986 to Oulu.

I must give you some background of the situation in my parent’s home in Oulu. 

Also living there was my younger sister, who had, by her rather difficult experience in France in 1965, had become a schizophrenic patient. The Finnish system was that she was to be looked after by her parents, but they were unable to control her and she ruled the roost in there home.

I could manage her, to a point, but she was milking her parents and they could do nothing.

One fateful Friday in December 1986, I had gone to town for shopping. As the Sabbath was soon approaching, I cut short my shopping trip and took the bus home. I went upstairs where Mika was listening to the radio and put the kettle on for cup of coffee. I smelt some smoke and went downstairs to see what was the problem. 

When I opened my sister's room I saw a fire raging in one corner. I shut the door and quickly told Mika to get out of the house. I ran to the neighbours and asked the lady to call the Fire Brigade.

Our neighbour, being a reporter, also called her newspaper.

We soon had a crowd of people waiting for the house to burst into flames, as was the case with wooden houses.

I was concerned for my parents, whom I knew were in the house. Mika banged on the living room window, where we knew my father was resting.

I went into the house and when I opened the door of the living room, as it was already dark (in December darkness descends by 3 pm), I could not see him, but he immediately smelt the fire. He ran out and started to collect water in buckets in the small toilet and tried to put out the fire, which was gathering momentum, with dark smoke coming out of my sister's room.

My mother managed to come down the stairs from her room. She was blinded by the smoke, but we managed to get her out of the house.

I was wondering where my father was as he had not come out of the house. So I went in and I found him trying to close the door to my sister's room to try to contain the fire, but the force of the smoke was so strong, he was not able to shut it. I dragged him out twice but he just went back in.

Finally I understood his intention and I tried to help him, but the pressure inside the room was so strong that we could not together shut the door.

The suddenly, for no reason, the door shut.

My father acted slowly but surely. His clothes cupboard was just behind us. He opened and took out his main clothes and proceeded down the stairs to the cellar, where he had his shoes.

I went out by the front door and waited for the Fire Brigade. By that time people were streaming in from around to see the blaze. My sister was standing at the gate. She told a neighbour that it seemed that the fire had not started in earnest!

I was in the back gaden watching the blaze through the window while at the same time, the small ventilation duct was billowing out thick smoke.

Te Fire Brigade arrived and the first question was whether there was anyone left into house. I told them that my mother's dog, Jesse, was trapped in the upstairs bedroom. Thy went in with a smoke extractor and soon emerged with the dog.

They acted quickly and efficiently and before the house could explode, they were able to put out the fire. My sister's room was completely gutted and the entire house was flooded as the firemen ensured that no spark was left unattended.

They took my parents to then hospital to ensure they were not suffering from any smoke inhalation problems.

Joanna had been walking home from school and when she saw the Fire Engines rushing, she thought that our house must be on fire. She and her friends rushed home, but the main excitement was over.

The Police arrived and having establishing the facts took my sister to the psychiatric hospital.

If we had moved to Finland, if my experience in England had not been negative, and if I had not returned home before the start of the Sabbath, the lives of my parents and their home would have been lost.

Coincidence, fate or the handiwork of our Lord God, could have directed efforts to ensure that my parents survived and their home was saved.

There is no doubt in my mind why we had to move to Finland. As a result of this I was able to fight the case of my sister in Court that she was not convicted as an arsonist and to also get her a permanent place in the psychiatric hospital, so that my parents were freed from her over-bearing and demanding character.

For that I can surely say what or who was the reason for shifting us from India to Finland. 

Can you?

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