After working on the fishing boat, his mama demanded that he learn the English language for the family business because there was a need and she thought that he would be a good candidate. There was also pressure on her due to the increasing number of tourists: Yanks (Americans), Canucks (Canadians), Roos (Aussies), Kiwis (New Zealanders), Springboks (South Africans), and most of all Brits (those from the
Kingdom, specifically Great Britain) that had English as
their primary spoken tongue.
Thus, her impatience in this regard was understandable. Mekkar was his mama’s choice and she was determined to make him fulfill this role she set out for him even if it killed her. His mama set up home schooling with tutors along with his special foreign language studies. Sirga also felt that this was a good reflection, in one aspect, of her parenting abilities.
When Mekkar’s papa Henrik would go to the
United States, Britain, or another nation with English
as a mother tongue for business, Mekkar’s mama made requests of him. In her
mind, the requests were mainly for Mekkar’s benefit. Sirga would tell Henrik to
purchase and bring back English speaking only sports tapes, films, and videos
for Mekkar. Mekkar’s mama would gather related items for him during her own
modeling junkets as well.
She knew that would the best and quickest way for Mekkar to grasp the correct interaction phraseology was through his passion of sports. Sirga never failed to remind Henrik to tell his translators these things also. She would do this herself on the rare occasions when she met the go betweens directly that would travel with her husband on those business trips. It was important due to the fact that Henrik never learned nor spoke English himself. He admitted being taught a few of the swear words as part of the Allied air group during the Korean conflict, but long since forgotten them. Henrik was able to converse fluently in ten other languages, with business vocabulary in German being most important for his employer at that time.
Henrik would buy in
at the behest of Sirga; National Football League (NFL), National Basketball
Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), World Hockey Association (WHA),
National Hockey League (NHL), & English Futbol (Soccer) items for Mekkar.
Henrik would bring back whole boxes of items. This was done to encourage Mekkar
to continue on and to help him develop the skills needed as soon as possible. She
designed it as an incentive program for the boy.
Sirga had confidence that Mekkar would succeed in the immediate and difficult task she had given him. Still she had a plan; otherwise consequences would be carried out. Yet, Sirga was not averse to taking that route and could use harsh measures as a last resort to motivate him. Frequently for her oldest son, Sirga held back whipping his rear end on a regular basis and other forms of punishment until the job was done. That is, in a satisfactory manner up to her standard. These factors caused Mekkar to accelerate his learning curve until his mama felt confident that he was ready enough for continuous customer interaction. Then, she placed him “into the fire” by pressing Mekkar into service for business reasons.
On one of the first days of dealing with the tourists in the family restaurant Mekkar was busing tables and took a couple of orders. One early example was a group of tourists that had arrived into their small 15 table specialty diner. The visitors from the
United Kingdom appeared to be
astonished when a boy came over to their order. One of the customers commented
out load about their order taker’s fairly broken English skills.
Even so, it seemed as though both parties understood each other well enough to converse and get the point across after his first order was received in the foreign language, Mekkar approached the kitchen. Mekkar beamed with confidence, well as much as a little boy could muster. In his eagerness, he sought out more opportunities to exercise his foreign language skills that day.
Later on, another kid from another tourist family taught Mekkar a few new phrases in English. However, Mekkar was given inaccurate information as to the true meanings of some of those expressions. The visitor told Mekkar that one of the words was referred to as a type of greeting instead. Why Mekkar took it at face value, without question, from the slightly older visitor we will never know. Not long afterward, Mekkar thought that he was being cool and uttered that greeting to other travelers. He became confused when he received an appalled reaction which caused them to flee out of the restaurant. When Sirga got wind of it, she was angry at Mekkar and smacked him upside the head. The Arctic boy was puzzled and bewildered by his mama’s response. Mekkar thought that he was being friendly. The young boy was unaware that his specific choice of terminology were used as swear words instead of friendly introductions. Unknown to Mekkar, his mama had been warned by one of her friends who happened to be nearby and spoke English fairly well. She revealed what he was really saying. After some embarrassment and attempts to pass the blame, the lesson was learned. Of course, this was all before Sirga began her own process of absorbing English. She felt it was best for her to be relatable to different tourist groups that might arrive in the future.
This was one of the few slip ups by Mekkar. Overall, he was given praise for a job well done. After closing hours, Mekkar was rewarded with the washing of pots, pans, dishes, & other general cleaning duties. He felt that maybe that this was punishment due to his swearing at the tourists earlier in the day. Mekkar began to come up with alternate justifications and possibilities. He told himself the reason for doing these tasks was that his little brother needed to have an example to follow. For Alf to be groomed to carry out the same tasks, when he got older. The problem was there was a lack of available bodies to fill all the positions at the time to complete the work.
Eventually, the family business expanded into other areas and branched out. Sirga also forced Mekkar along with his siblings and friends to expand their foreign speaking skills by hook or by crook. Employment requirements needed to be filled. Mekkar didn’t go to the formal school anyway and instead had tutors, training aids, plus other methods to help him learn. This way he could spend more time working. Any additional time was spent playing sports and being a kid as much as he could. In this culture, it was expected that children had to grow up more quickly and contribute to the family’s welfare. When he got older formal classroom schooling was also sacrificed on the altar of sports and job assignments.
When he was younger, Mekkar was also in the process of learning not only his native tongue, but another nearby dialect of it, the national language of the country he lived in, a regional speech, a couple of continental languages, along with communication in English as his mama required. His plate was quite full at this time. This was all reinforced by the force of his mama’s personality backed by statements of “Do it my way or I’ll beat your butt!” There was no double standard or dual meaning to interpret regarding Sirga’s words or intentions. She did not speak in double meanings or with a lying tongue unlike today’s politicians. The goals were made very clear and defined. She always meant what she said and their native language was constructed in that manner.
Sirga also made his brothers, when they reached a certain age as he did, learn other foreign tongues to fulfill various other needs according to her perceptions. Alf would eventually become fluent in easily over twenty languages including Hungarian, which is considered by many to be the hardest language on earth. In the course of time, Alf could converse in Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Greek, as well as prominent Finno-Ugric, Germanic, Slavic, and Romance languages. Mekkar, on the other hand, was considered a slacker in his family for speaking less than ten languages himself. However, he spoke English which others in his family did not speak at the time. Due to lack of use and practice, in time Mekkar would forget a couple of the tongues he learned when he was a kid. He still remembers odd words however. English was here to stay and would be of more use in the future unbeknownst to Mekkar. This was the case almost exclusively in the future, when he had to flee his home forever due to extenuating circumstances.
Another time when Mekkar was a teenager outside tending watching over some of his reindeer, to keep them healthy for the tourist business, other visitors drove by slowly. The vehicle stopped suddenly where he was and a man, his wife along with two children got out. Mekkar instantly recognized them as non locals because of their clothes. His judgment was based on previous interaction with them in their own language earlier. This time, The Arctic herder kept his back turned toward their group and continued his duties while pretending to ignore the family. The man approached Mekkar within speaking distance. The tourist called out disparagingly, “Hey reindeer boy, turn around and look at us, so we can get a picture of you with the animals.” Mekkar heard him and thought that maybe the out-of-towner had not recognized him from earlier. The young man from the far north surmised that the visitor thought he was speaking to someone else. Despite, the fact there was no other native person with Mekkar at that moment.
Mekkar became perturbed at the condescending comment and responded by turning slowly to his right. He responded, what he referred to as those arrogant bastards, with the native version of flipping the bird at them. It occurred to Mekkar that the visitors might not have understood the meaning behind his reaction. Just to make sure they received his response properly so they would get a clearer picture, he then proceeded to drop his pants to his ankles and moon the tourists there. He even patted his bare bottom in their direction for added emphasis. Mekkar intentionally had reacted with a flippant attitude in this manner. He did what he thought was an appropriate comeback to combat the snobbish attitude and comments on the part of the sightseers.