The Cabinet Maker
He was the last in a long line of cabinet makers. But what if he would rather have a clean, better-paid job? What then? His grandfather would not hear of that, of course, nobody had ever asked him if he wanted to be a cabinet maker or not, and his life had turned out just fine, is what he always said. And what was with young people these days? He had to make up his mind though, before school. More
His grandfather was a cabinet maker. The rarely smiling old man who now had trouble walking and whose fingers struck the young boy as gnarled, helpless roots of some moving-about-the-house-with-difficulty tree.
The grumpy old man who had trouble chewing most of his food for lack of teeth and who now and then drooled soup on his shirt at table and then pretended that he had not, even after mother would hand him a napkin, not even a thank you.
This old man’s name was Ljunge. It was my father’s name, too, he would tell the young boy on those occasions when he was in a good enough mood and his legs and hands didn’t ache too badly.
My father was a good man, he would go on. Good in so many ways, he was, my father. He was trustworthy, never went back on his word. Never. And he was hard-working. All his life, he was hard-working. And he was good with his tools, his axes and awls and knives and planes and clamps and saws and chisels. And mallets, he would sometimes add, as if running down some internal list and finally arriving at it. And his glue. He knew all about glue.
He built this house, my father did, every bit of it, you know. Even the chair you’re sitting in.
“I think Dad built this chair.”
This makes him look over, frowning a little. Looking more closely. “Well, yes, so he did.” Then he’d draw new breath and say: He was a very good man, my father, and I am proud to be his son, to wear his name, and I will wear it until I die, and you can take that to the bank.
His father was a cabinet maker. The not-quite-so-stern man who told the boy often enough to respect (and never, again, to make fun of) grandpa Ljunge, for he had lived a hard life but even so had always taken care of his wife of so many years—before she passed—and had always looked after his children when hard times visited upon them and their families. Always ready to help, no matter what the day, no matter what the time. I know he can be a bit of a grump, he’d tell his son, but he is a good man, and that is why grandpa lives with us now. We’re just returning the favor. He’s done us enough of them to be sure. The father’s name was Viktor.
The boy, whose name was Erik, on those splendid though a little scary occasions when time unfolded and spread itself out before him to hint at the future, glimpsed in his reflection yet another cabinet maker.
Available ebook formats: