Saturday, December 26, 2015


[Continued from Part A in August, 2015]

Mekkar is a very rhythmatic person. He feels like he is at his best when he is in the rhythm of something. This applies to all areas of his life. Thus, being in rhythm is quite key to him and central to his way of thinking. Mekkar understands that most people are unable to relate to that because it is an ingrained native aspect to his character.

Anyone who knows Mekkar personally can see that his survivor fighter type personality is not an act. It has stemmed from the far north native environment and upbringing he grew up in. This was easily assessed by Mekkar’s quips and retorts on the ice toward other players. Especially ones who wanted to do combat with him or those who desired to ramp up their roughness against him. ”Hey, where I come from we have big bears and you are much smaller than a bear. So, how are you going to scare me?” Mekkar would snap back at times.   

It seemed that every time Mekkar participated in any games against North Americans, exhibition or otherwise, they all wanted to test him. Since he felt that his size, or lack thereof, was like a greeting card advertising an invitation to start the rough stuff with him. Many times the cheap shots and extra aggressiveness would take place, even before the youngster would open his mouth to show that he was an accommodating adversary. It wasn’t like Mekkar was unwilling to oblige either. Mekkar sought an answer that maybe it was something in his countenance on his face or an aspect in his appearance perhaps. However, he never received a satisfactory response to these questions. Ultimately Mekkar discarded that notion due to a lack of useful information gathered on the subject.  He was forced to accept things as another part of hockey environment.

The Arctic Warrior was a product of an era and time that had a different mentality. Many of the most famous big name hockey stars would fight back to defend themselves. The list included the biggest names in the sport - Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull, etc. The current specialization of athletes has removed the need for this because there are enforcers who defend their team’s star players. Rarely, if ever, did anyone see Mekkar back down from a direct challenge. The native from the far north figured if the superstars can protect themselves on their own and fight back, why can’t he?

Not to mention many aspects were different in those days along with unwritten rules and conduct that applied as well. Mekkar understood this and still his on-ice demeanor crossed the line of breaking those rules on many occasions while performing for various squads. As for the whole hockey industry, Mekkar refuses to speak for it because maybe many aspects he believed were universal. In his mind, people in all fields take some things for granted whether conscious or not.

For instance, the head injury issues that many have now become aware of were as common as today. Mekkar suspects it was more so at the peak of his athletic career. However, scientific discovery and advancement in technology were not as advanced as today. Concussions were only considered as headaches and, Mekkar knows about this firsthand, some were worse than others.

There are times where Mekkar was incapable of recalling from his memory banks whole days, weeks, and matches that he was involved in. On some of those occasions he would have a portion of the info filled in by his brother, friends, and others that were present. Since they all pretty much played the sport too, Mekkar would do the same for them in return. There was an agreement that if one of the teammates had a blank bout due to head trauma the other players would collectively take care of each other by filling in the missing details.

Mekkar now experiences a consistent level of headache, along with their varying degree throughout everyday of his life due to the frequent rattling of the head. He understands that he took the risks and fully accepts the consequences. Thus, he sucks it up and deals with it in his own way. His ingrained mentality is that he is a hockey player, long after his playing days were over. Thus, don’t be a baby about it and keep your complaints to yourself – despite the deterioration of the physical issues. Everyone around The Arctic Warrior sees this outward expression and attitude including his doctors and neurologist. Yet, no one wants to trade places and endure the daily challenging circumstances that have risen as a result.

Fortunately, Mekkar was always glad that he wasn’t suited up as the backup goaltender for a live game. The backup was usually positioned, closest to the puck bucket, at one end of the bench. The pail was used for the nauseating excretion that could occur as a result of a heavy hit to the head and other reasons. Normally, the second goalie that occupied that spot on the bench rapidly adapted and later became immune to that foul smell. Similar to the garbage man around stinky trash or a plumber who unclogs pipes of human waste. Still, that scent always affected Mekkar and made him want to puke so he would try to sit as far away as possible because he never got used to it.

There were many instances, which involved Mekkar, that would be labelled as concussions today. Little was known about those issues back then as compared to now. For example, Mekkar would suffer a firm blow through contact of his head with an opposing fist, elbow, the ice surface, boards, etc. Team officials or trainers would arrive with smelling salt packets to wake him up if he was completely knocked out. A few times, according to Alf and Lasse, Mekkar didn’t even know who he was and answered all of the questions directed at him incorrectly.

On a number of occasions after regaining his senses Mekkar would then be helped to the bench. Next, vomit into the bucket and go to the dressing room to be given pain pills and commonly alcohol for the numbing effect. He would then hear, “Hurry up; you only have a few minutes for your next shift so be ready.” Ah! The good old days.

Mekkar has experienced times where he was in a blackout, non-remembrance frame of mind for awhile afterward. This happened more often than he would care to admit but the response was suck it up you’re a hockey player. Unfortunately, it also became his normal point of view by not considering the future adverse effects.

It was amazing that Mekkar didn’t miss more time by playing through it all. He rarely missed games and almost never did for an assortment of minor injuries. He feared that he could be replaced if he was out too long. All he wanted to do was play the game. The matches were rewards to him for being diligent in practice, going through the training regimes, and the other preparation activities.

In addition, there is the matter of gaining the respect of your peers, fellow players, coaches, fans, etc. Mekkar didn’t desire to be labeled a wimp, chicken, or one who couldn’t handle the roughness of the game. So, Mekkar soldiered on without consideration of any possible long term negative affects. He didn’t want to disturb his confidence level and that is such a fragile thing at times for most athletes.

That period was very much unlike today where the big money invested in athletes is so much greater and the overall physical contact less. Now, whole careers are taken into account and the athletes can retire on the salaries earned nowadays. Mekkar has mentioned it before that he felt that most athletes back during the duration of his career and before were treated many times like a piece of meat. He has even quipped, “The help was cheaper to replace when the meat was not so delicious anymore.”

Another aspect was the attitude exhibited by a few of the clubs Mekkar played for. If you are injured in any way just get back to the bench. The players were told flatly, “If you are not dead or unconscious we will not come and help you off of the ice. At the very least, be tough and get to the bench under your own power, somehow!” It was a different era. That is the reason why in one game during his playing days Mekkar broke his leg. He was unable to stand up or put any weight onto that limb. He then proceeded to crawl on his hands and knees along part of the defensive blue line while the puck was up ice. Mekkar struggled to get back to his team’s side and only then was helped to the locker room for further analysis.

Due to this inserted conviction, Mekkar feels that many individuals went beyond the call of duty. Some performed with injuries back then that wouldn’t be considered according to the current standard. He attributes it to the expendability factor of yesteryear as the Native from the Far North refers to it.

It was a good thing Mekkar was blessed with a measure of natural athletic ability but quite a few specific skills had to be learned, developed, and ingrained over time. Mekkar was in top physical condition due to the excruciating and demanding training program. Plus, he had such a low center of gravity that made it hard to knock him off of his feet. On the other hand, the lack of height made Mekkar very susceptible to opposition elbows and cheap shots to his upper body especially the head.

Mekkar has affirmed many times that fighting in hockey is preferable than the alternative, more dangerous stick work. Mainly, because there are those individuals that are reserved for that role of policeman for your team. It is a matter of being a deterrent like nuclear arsenals during the Cold War. He has asserted that if there was no fighting allowed at all the abuse suffered could be much worse.

Cheap shots to the club stars and main goal scores would increase dramatically. Injuries from evil stick work would be out of this world. Mekkar knows about these nasty tactics because he has been the target of it himself. He has suffered a host of various induced maladies as a result of opposing maltreatment from vicious hidden uncalled penalty stick infractions. Bad intentioned twig-work has caused Mekkar more trouble to his body than anything he has suffered in any tangle or fighting escapades involving one’s fists. There have been some hockey leagues around the world with the bad-stick label attached to them. Thus, top players avoid those locations like the plague.

The native young man has never lacked internal drive; some others would call it passion or refer to it with other terminology. That resilient fire is sometimes the very thing that kept him going through the bog and the mire. A toughness trait that keeps him upright and still looking forward to make a positive play or set up a prime scoring chance during a game. This all while being checked and possibly crunched into the boards by the opposition like any good hockey player, performing their duty, would do.

Ice Hockey is considered one of the fastest team sports in the world along with Jai Alai, Badminton, Bobsledding, and others. The difference is the added physical element that also makes hockey a violent game and a collision/contact sport. The players are quite aware of the speed that takes place within a game. Most fans will never be able to conceive of it without direct participation. Watching the game on television doesn’t come close to revealing to the non-player how quickly it all moves or how fluid the sport is.

Even now though he prefers listening to a match on the radio to keep his mind sharp, when Mekkar watches a game he sees it from a much different perspective. Friends of his notices when going to a live hockey game with him that Mekkar still actually shouts instructions toward the ice. On other occasions Mekkar becomes very quiet and extremely analytical of the play on the ice. Others can vouch that Mekkar even voices instructions and tactics toward the players during a game – whether live or on TV.

It is not surprising considering Mekkar did later coach a younger championship squad, while he was still playing himself. That team roster had a couple of future pro stars, but Mekkar’s implemented system and training was considered too exhausting for all involved. However, he liked the teaching aspect but not the overall aspect of coaching too much. The main reason is that you can do everything to prepare your team but there is only so much control the coaches can exert in regards to the execution of the game plan.

After all of this time, when Mekkar views a match live, or on television if the cameras are in the correct places, it is in an unequal manner to those around him. Despite all of the head trauma, he presently sees the play in, what he describes as kind of slow motion. He scopes the activity as it develops on the ice, through recognizable patterns, particularly around the net area. There is his early distinguishment of possible scoring chances and resulting goals as they happen in real time. Those observing the match right next to him might only hear an oh! Sound from Mekkar before a goal is scored. Yet, there are other occasions where he has trouble remembering who he is – all inside the same skull.

Parts of the processing center inside Mekkar’s head are much quicker than he could ever describe with his mouth and his trap is pretty fast. Mekkar has what Alf and Lasse describe as an almost non-stop motor mouth with constant yammering. Part of Mekkar’s was being a disturber, or a pest, and he was good at it by chirping away at opposing players. In many cases, he would descend into the realm of uttering similar comments at teammates as well.

References to a player’s error-prone mistakes, how they looked, odd individual traits, regarding their talent level or lack thereof would be capitalized upon. Nothing was sacred and no topic or subject was out of bounds or off limits for use by Mekkar when he was in the provoking mode. Sometimes he was assigned by the coaching staff the purpose of getting inside a specific player’s head so they might take a stupid penalty. This ploy was applied to throw the opposition player off of their game, well at least for that particular tilt. The idea was to positively affect the results in the rink for his own team. Of course, Mekkar was not an expert at this technique or in the same high trash talking stratosphere level as some other players. There are masters of confusion that came along later such as Finn Esa Tikkanen who even invented his own language Tiki-Talk. [Wikipedia;]

Mekkar has heard the following statement a few times and from a variety of sources in the form of, “Eventually you will get knocked on your backside and it will happen a lot. If it hasn’t happened yet, it is because you are not playing hard enough or not at a high enough level of play.” This was a positive aspect for Mekkar as he saw it. Plus, the Northern Native already had a never give up philosophy and never surrender character no matter what the circumstances he faced or what the scoreboard read. In addition, Mekkar had an extreme level of mental fortitude and toughness. All hockey athletes are aware, as Mekkar was, they could suffer a crushing blow or a career ending injury at any time. Yet, at the same time have a high pain tolerance or be able to bear a continuous level of great discomfort; to a degree that most individuals can never relate to and possibly would drive many to constant wailing. Mekkar just accepted it as part of the sacrifice for the love of the game.

The emerging young man had exceptional hand-eye coordination and instantaneous mental faculties working at top speed together. It was required for Mekkar to endure the rigors of his position such as throwing his body in front of a 90 mile per hour + (144.84 kph) slap shot to block it. [] Mekkar thought that a person had to be a little bit crazy to do that without hesitation. Certainly, he qualified in that psychological aspect. Even more so, in an era where the protective equipment was nowhere near as good as today. Mekkar would make jokes about this saying that he should be committed to a nuthouse for these types of reactions and on-ice behaviors.

The teenager always tried to give his best effort every day and night, during practices and live games. He is aware that is how you win the respect of your team and the fans.  Mekkar accepted the fact that anybody could be observing him at any time. The realization of being in a fishbowl where everything is visible and out in the open. When he could not do anything without an entirety of people seeing it placed added pressure on Mekkar. Eerie similar to some of the lyrics in the song Somebody's Watching Me. [by Rockwell, 1984]

Mekkar discerned that there were other off-ice areas he needed to markedly improve upon such as humility, approachableness, and conducting himself appropriately when engaging the media. He had a plan of good intentions in not swearing too often (which is common with hockey players) around reporters. Not only that, the Native From The North attempted to show respect to various team officials, along with on-ice officials. The results did not quite pan out as well as he hoped. Mekkar tried to keep, his displeasure at times, inside. However, it was difficult because of his growing lack of trust in any authority figures in general.

Fortunately, scouts and other hockey people saw this as a trait of youth that could be corrected easily with proper teaching and more exposure to a variety of environments. Those in charge focused on Mekkar’s physical abilities such as being a strong skater and his fearlessness. Also, those same individuals admired his ability to maneuver his way through tight windows on the ice due to his compact, low-centre of gravity, stature. Not to forget Mekkar was normally prepared to take a hit, just to make a good play with the puck. [Livestrong]

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Mekkar has the same condition as other more famous athletes, with more damage done to his brain than most of them had. It’s painful to observe him as he wrestles daily like a rollercoaster with regard to his emotions. At times, Mekkar is in an outwardly obvious hopeless frame of mind, while he tries to find answers to some of his questions. Unfortunately, the lack of anything resembling an explanation or a little feedback spirals him further downward in despair.

He asks why these negative circumstances are continually occurring in a similar manner. Mekkar believes that he has acted upon & carried out his part to the uttermost. That is, with a correct justification according to all conventional wisdom, but still things fail to materialize properly for him. He is always questioning out loud, “What did I do wrong?” Still again, silence. No one else has anything resembling any helpful advice; only statements that current and past elements are all part of an overall plan for him.

Anyone around the Native from the North can clearly see that Mekkar is thoroughly seeking how to turn it around and find resolutions to his troubles. Still, silence to his pleas. He outward begs to be able to try different courses of actions to find relief. However, none arrives.

Mekkar feels that his performance in every area of his life has been exceptional and others have witnessed the extensive efforts put forth to better his life. Even to the point of driving himself into ground through pure effort on multiple occassions. Still, more vicious and painful situations are heaped upon him. He even says for all to hear, “What did I do wrong to earn this? And what could I have done differently to achieve much better results?” How come I suffer tragedies in one non-stop line? Still, not a peep from any outside source. Plus, no major positive deeds are carried out on his behalf.

The truth is, He couldn’t have conducted himself any other way. It has always been a battle of survival for him - even from the start of his life. Many times now, Mekkar believes that he is unable to do anything right and whatever he has “touched” lately has turned to the opposite of gold – mud. Yet, Mekkar is not content & feels as though he has to do something, though the choices available are not good, but could only be bad or worse. If he undertakes no action at all it only aims toward – worse.

This view presently appears to be clouding every area of his life (Finances, Job or Life Status, Outward Appearances, Clear Mind/Intelligence, Health, etc. – no corner has been spared. It has come down to the basics of life – survival or demise, nothing more. Due to his exhaustion, he is tired of constant changes in an unfavorable way regarding the current aspects of his life. He is beginning to question what is the purpose or point to all of this. In his mind, the non-stop storms better end and calm seas arrive to refresh, not to further drain his zest for life. The fuse is dangerously short.

Monday, November 9, 2015


He is Not so sure about being a strong soul, yet! 
But, Mekkar is aware that he has begun on a path to full understanding of himself.

However, Mekkar gives a definite Yes to being a very different character. 
His culture instilled in him a sense that each person is unique with individual backgrounds, biases, etc. all contributing to the whole self. 

Where he came from there is a strong view that even inanimate objects have their own soul and can understand how to successfully interact with people.

Monday, October 26, 2015


As Mekkar listens to the AC/DC song – Down Payment Blues, it takes him back in time to when he first heard it in the background. The Arctic Warrior wanted to buy the album - Powerage right then and there because he thought it rocked in a fantastic way. However, his wish was not granted during that particular stop on another Hockey Tour away from home. Mekkar was kept from making that purchase in person, due to the team bus was departing for the arena as part of the game day morning skate. All players on the team were required to be on that particular bus as to not miss the trip. In reality, the morning skate always ended up as a light practice instead of a familiarity skate in the rink. The idea was to get the team acquainted with the facility before participating in the game later on that day.

Sometime in the future, Mekkar heard news that a limited number of copies of the same album were going to be made available locally for purchase. He knew exactly when and where to be, as well as, hoping that no unforeseen obstacles were placed in his way. Mekkar was a creature of habit like many of his fellow citizens. However, he was very stubborn in his way and would be unamused if his plan did not work out as planned.

Mekkar was already living, down south, in the capital city and being employed by a local hockey team in the area. On the appropriate date, The Arctic Warrior woke up early and walked a few blocks to be outside the Import Shop. He was the first person there and waited for the small business to open its front door. Soon afterward, other stragglers shuffled up and formed a line behind him. This had occurred before, remembered Mekkar, when he concluded previous purchases there before. So, he did not expect any surprises. Yet, on this cold morning he was first in line with cash ready to be spent. There would be little time to waste once the store opened. The native from the north wanted to take care of this transaction quickly and be out the door. Ironically, Mekkar needed to head back to the arena to prepare himself for another morning skate. He felt this might be his last chance.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


Sometimes, Mekkar feels guilty and wonders why he is still alive, while people he knew died as a result of radiation exposure from a nuclear power plant explosion. Not to mention additional similar facilities have had “leaks” that most of the media have ignored reporting about.

Mekkar feels many times the reason why he survived and continues on to this day is to exhibit wisdom to others. Especially, helping younger individuals by teaching them how to avoid some of the mistakes Mekkar has made in his life - Well, at least the ones where he has found solutions.

The continuation process of his life does have some drawbacks. He still suffers in a physical and mental manner. Even though Mekkar, himself, admits that some of the debilitating effects were self-induced and stem from his sports style of play. Plus, heavy drinking, which was used to combat the pain. It was a normal practice, during the era of his career, but now is seen as taboo.

Then, there are some chronic effects that one can visibly see and beyond his control, which were forced upon him. Family members also blame the Arctic Warrior, as the oldest sibling, for the loss of their material possessions as a result. Unfortunately, Mekkar does not have a clear view that what he thinks his purpose might be or is it being fulfilled. He is not sure that any support, encouragement, & imparted wisdom he has supplied has taken root in any shape or form.

Who knows, all that Mekkar has imparted in relation to others around him might be tossed aside or discarded. Thus, he often asks himself, in his frequent daily bouts of depression, the question – “What is the point of continuing in and not surrendering?” Chiefly, since Mekkar could have encountered the same fate as fellow people he knew.

It is too bad that Mekkar’s many issues, built up over time, unintentionally chases away most people from his life. He is similar to a walled city that has been targeted by large artillery shells and some that occasionally pierce the wall. Next, the damaged areas are strengthened by a strong shield to keep invaders out. The Arctic Warrior suspects the main reason why most flee in the opposite direction is because they cannot relate to the situations he has experienced in the past. In other words, there is no desire for most to come face-to-face with their own morality.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Once in a great while, Mekkar might ask a person's opinions he trusts for an honest analysis & information regarding him from the viewpoint of that person. It serves two purposes at the same time – one is accuracy of perception and observation awareness (some people call it – intuition). The second is Mekkar is receiving useful data of how other individuals see him and the impressions that he might unknowingly exhibit. That knowledge can be valuable for Mekkar to improve in areas where he is having difficulty or weak areas in need of improvement – Since no one is perfect! Just another one of the lessons Mekkar learned from Aslak the Shaman long ago while on a reindeer trek.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


When Mekkar was younger, his mama brought him along on quite a few magazine and runway modelling gigs with her. many people directed compliments his way. She reminded her son to respond back in a blunt way that would surprise them. Tell them, "I hope you continue to say those nice things, when I get older and date your daughters!"

Sirga had a motive behind her actions, despite the fact that Mekkar did not understand the quip flowing from his mouth nor her intent behind it. She attempted, in this small way, to control his ego from getting a swelled head. Mekkar's mama retained a rationale that her son was still young enough to formed and keep grounded.

It was all part of Sirga's growth preparation process with regard to her sons, especially the oldest one – Mekkar. She was well aware that adulthood can surprise young people when they reach it and find out how hard it can be. Often reality strikes and life knocks a person in the teeth unexpectly and repeatedly. She wanted her offspring to learn the key is always how an individual answers the bell and be ready for the next time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


The exclusive upbringing in a sparsely populated area, the time period, and cultural background Mekkar grew up in dictates his views. He looks at many things from a very different perspective than most other individuals. It is not saying whether one way is better or not as good as the other; it’s just from a different cultural inclination.

For one thing, Mekkar doesn’t compare himself in a physical sense in either size or stature to other people. It wouldn’t make any difference anyway. The contrast he makes is to bears, even polar bears and other wild animals in nature. Mekkar does that with all people, no matter how large or small they are. To Mekkar, everything in life is a matter of perspective and affects their individual outlook. Plus, Mekkar already takes the position that most people are taller than him anyway, so it rarely crosses his mind and is a non issue to him. Thus, he is not intimidated by humans and has regularly throughout his life dated women much taller than himself.

Sometimes players on other teams, as well as, their more vocal fans would taunt him. A few of those shouted out statements were in a derogatory sense. Some of those words directed at him were regarding his statue and native background. Mekkar figured it was the case because he has some native traits compared to most of the people he encounters.

Comments would come down from the stands like fireballs from a magician. A few signs with cutout pictures of The Arctic Warrior in compromising positions, swear words, and worse were aimed specifically at the teenager. It would sometimes make Mekkar seethe with anger and want to go into the crowd and kick some butt. At the same time, Mekkar would also use those negative darts as motivation to heighten his intensity on the ice. It meant that Mekkar would amplify his in-game nastiness far beyond his usual feisty disposition. This could be problematic for him due to the fact his attitude change would cause Mekkar to take more penalties and leave his team shorthanded more often. Goalies and coaches were not always happy with him crossing over that fine line between effectiveness and disruption to the overall game plan.

Mekkar would moreover use any cheering and support for the home team’s exploits as fuel for him. On the road he would accept actual crowd applause and make his own. A sort of deceptive mind game, if you will. In any case, Mekkar tried to apply any whistling or booing directed at him as targeted toward another player. It was not always a successful endeavor because Mekkar has incurred a variety of food and liquids dumped on him while spending time for his actions in the sin bin. These mind tricks eventually made forays on the road more bearable for Mekkar. Even so, Mekkar can’t stand to lose and it is much more difficult to be victorious in games away from the comforts of home.

Later on, The Arctic Warrior was given a piece of advice in a meaningless exhibition match by one of his hockey heroes that was a well-known defenseman. His idol told him, “Just let it (the statements) go, don’t worry about it, you can’t change or fight everyone.” Sirga, his mama, repeatedly gave Mekkar the same advice. Still, the native from the far north brushed aside the advice and continued to do things his own way. Outwardly, Mekkar still continued to play effectively on the ice. Inwardly, the comments continued to bother Mekkar enough to make him want explode with fury. Added to that, it stewed a desire to inflict retribution against all who crossed his path. Once in a while, after incurring objects tossed at him from the stands, Mekkar would boil over. Then, he and other teammates would climb over the glass or metal gates (which he referred to as chicken wire) above the dasher boards. They would seek out those responsible for starting the melee and pay them back with a physical beatdown. Players venturing into the stands and having altercations with fans was not uncommon in that era. The most well-known example was the Philadelphia Flyers, who were also dubbed the Broad Street Bullies. Still, there was a risk for all parties involved. Unfortunately, Mekkar’s angry behavior forced the squad to frequently play shorthanded, while he spent time in the sin bin.

Trouble was, Mekkar was extremely headstrong and received that trait from his mama and grandmama. He was young, dumb, and full of ... [John C. McGinley as Ben Harp character in Point Break, 1991]  Mekkar even replied back to his idol’s wise advice that was given to him by muttering under his breath, “Wanna bet, I will kick all of their butts, all that taunt me, those stupid morons.” Oh! The wisdom and sage counsel wasted on the young. [Kurt Vonnegut, 1997 MIT graduation ceremony speech] However, that freely given advice turned out to be absolutely correct as Mekkar matured, got older, and became more aware of his ever changing surroundings.

The fledgling young man had heard all kinds of crass remarks and jokes directed his way regarding reindeer. Alf, on the other hand and most probably because he did not resemble any outward native characteristics, avoided this abuse on purpose. The younger sibling of Mekkar hid any aspect of his native status or background including using a different last name than Mekkar from the legal birth choices available.

These factors eliminated negative preconceived ideas, perceptions, and bias towards Alf. Mekkar embraced his uniqueness and would on occasion correct others as to their misconceptions. At other times, he would outwardly brush off ignorant statements of the unknowing. That depended on his mood at that time.

Taunts showered upon The Arctic Warrior throughout the season and multiplied as the Christmas season approached. Fables such as Rudolf the red nosed reindeer and more direct personal attacks heightened for the duration of the winter. Mekkar knew better and was intimately aware that reindeer drop their antlers on a yearly basis. This normally occurs with males after the rutting or mating season in the late fall/early wintertime. Yet, it is not unheard of still having them later on in the calendar year. Remember, there are always exceptions to every rule. [Marcus Tullius Cicero’s defense of L. Cornelius Balbo in 56 BC;]

He had also been present during many instances when the female reindeer drop their antlers earlier in the year. Females normally grow them back after calving time in the very late winter/early spring. Mekkar got sick of the constant barrage of those stupid myths retorted over and over from many directions. Mekkar would comeback with sharp remarks such as, “If a reindeer has a red nose it probably came about from either being attacked by predators or in the process of being slaughtered.” Sometimes, Mekkar would get the business from fellow teammates as well. Usually, in a jovial setting. Mekkar says that he has heard it all, especially the wisecracks regarding herder occupations and native stereotypes.

When it came to dishing out the physical punishment Mekkar never held back. He should have played smarter earlier in his hockey career, but Mekkar was too young to realize it at the time. In other words, letting his frustrations out by dishing out vicious bodychecks at every opponent as retaliation for the abuse he received. Sirga warned her many occasions by telling him that he is one person and can carry out a limited number of actions. While, there are more individuals who can avenge in return. Mekkar surely does understand his folly now, in the distant future, as his body is crippled and falling apart. Some days it is a chore just to get out of bed for the day. However, The Arctic Warrior was aware of the potential risks and accepted them willingly to play a game he loved. Mekkar to this blames no one else but himself for the results. He just wishes the miniscule salaries of his time would have been comparable to the current era.

It is too bad the bullheaded Mekkar didn’t listen to others who had counseled him through their own past experiences about the prospective physical results. Mekkar now wishes he could have looked in the future and observe the consequences. Yet, he had to learn his lessons the hard way. He now attributes it as being juvenile with the thought that it will not happen to him. As the paraphrased saying goes, “Those who do not learn from past history are doomed to repeat it (and its past mistakes).” [Edmund Burke, 1729-1797] or something to that effect according to Mekkar.

Sirga told Mekkar flat to his face on more than one occasion, “No matter how much you give, you always receive more in return. That is because there is only one of you and so many more of them ready to return the favor.” This statement or a variety of it had been passed down to Sirga by her mama and through their family lineage. Sirga also related this piece of wisdom to her oldest son regard to a physical health. But, of course the young Mekkar did not take it to heart nor apply the message into his play on the ice.

There is an adage used frequently during the Christmas season – It is better to give than to receive. Mekkar preferred this application instead. It showed itself to be especially true when he would throw his body around on the ice. From time to time, Mekkar would wipe opposing players out with hard body checks of all types. Some might have been crossed the line of fair play.

Yet, Mekkar like most other teenagers are prone to blow off much of the advice and sage wisdom given to him by adults. Mainly because he thought it was so old school thinking and the times had changed. Mekkar was growing up into adulthood, so he thought he knew better. Young people in this stage of life tend to think they know it all and much more than anyone else. Mekkar felt that no parent or relative could relate to him during this stage of his own life, as well as, his own chosen direction. There is the tendency, for young people, to forget that all adults have already gone through those experiences beforehand. They have made it past that age.

The result usually is that each individual, as Mekkar eventually did, has to stubbornly learn the grim realism of various lessons in life. Yes, Mekkar would find out that when he thinks he knows it all, that attitude will soon make him look foolish. Life has tested him and humbled him through trying circumstances. Trials and tests would materialize sooner than he ever imagined. It was destined that the boy would become a man by gaining the necessary life instruction and attributes to journey on to the next phrase.

It was beneficial that Mekkar had been previously prepared for this upcoming hockey tour. Even the right wrist and hand that had been injured earlier in the year in the snowmobile race was fully healed. Mekkar was unaware that he was a cog in the wheel and part of an overall evolution process in life and sports. His own native culture emphasizes this belief of individuals are part of a larger design in the world itself. Fortunately, the extremely tough training regimen helped shape Mekkar into the player and person he would become.

This was a period of time where he would normally play for various clubs throughout the year and then take a five week hiatus. The break from hockey would occur during part of the summer. Mekkar would participate in other sports to still keep in shape. Many players in those days took a true off season break from athletics in general or work more hours at their place of employment. Very few superstars could claim sports as their fulltime employment. Lower pay dictated that Mekkar had to work for a living like everyone else. The idea was to get as far away as possible from their primary sport endeavor to avoid complete burnout.

Some players like Mekkar would increase their daily alcohol intake during this time. It was more for enjoyment and pleasure. Sometimes it appeared as if he were deprived of it and trying to make up for lost time. When in reality Mekkar drank quite a bit during the season. Many players used booze as a pain killer to numb the senses along with medications. That is, when he wasn’t partying with his buddies. After the sabbatical, many players like Mekkar would return with a fresh attitude and a renewed appreciation for the game. Training camp was primarily used to get back into hockey game shape. Mekkar loved the games themselves, not the daily grind.

Very different from today where year round sport specific training and tailor made workouts are the norm for athletes. Numerous individuals hire instructors to have them come into pre-season camp already in fantastic shape. Mekkar refers to it as a refining process into full sport and specific preparedness. This is not to say that all dry land exercise was avoided altogether back in the day. However, it was nowhere near as prevalent as in current times. It was a different mentality than because the majority of hockey players and professional athletes in general received a small salary in comparison. Most had to work at jobs during the off-season just like the rest of society.

Mekkar is of the opinion that some of those factors made pro athletes more in-touch and relatable to their fans of yesteryear. It was an environment that is very dissimilar to many detached athletes of today who can afford to take off-seasons to sculpt their bodies on a full time basis.

The young man himself played other sports during his time away from ice hockey. He would play some soccer (futbol) even though he was not nearly as good at it. His hockey defenseman mindset compelled Mekkar to position himself as a defender on the pitch, as well.

Alf has said that Mekkar was also a decent tennis player who could easily move around the court and chase down shots in an efficient manner. Plus, he had a wicked first serve that more than one hundred twenty miles per hour {193.12 kph) at times. The problem was that the serve was erratic at best and fantastic when he got it in. Mekkar would mess around with inconsistent second serve. Occasionally, he could put an outrageous chop spin that would sometimes barely cross over the net and die inside the service court on the other side. It didn’t happen often. Plus, Mekkar double faulted frequently due to his unwillingness to adapt his serve. He would try to his the ball as hard as he could. It didn’t always matter where the ball landed. Mekkar used the notion that force is everything revealing his feisty nature on the court. He did not apply himself with the same drive in tennis, as ice hockey. Alf commented that his older brother only used racquet sports as a distraction from his main sport. At times, his competitive nature and fiery disposition would take over and express themselves in a variety of ways.

The adolescent had observed a bit of live match play and many games. Mekkar also watched some tape and films featuring top notch professional tennis players. Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, Roscoe Tanner with that fast serve, and more were present as visual tutors to help improve his game, if he so desired. Mekkar attempted to incorporate what he could and modify it to his own game abilities.

Mekkar was a poor volleyer at the net. His reaction time was fine, but racquet control to keep the ball in the court was an issue. At first he followed the mainstream use of the smaller head wood frame. Then, later to the newly introduced oversized metal rackets. [Wikipedia] They both contributed to many tennis balls flying out of bounds on Mekkar’s part.

He was basically a baseliner and learned the extreme top spin forehand shot by watching Borg. Since Mekkar had very strong wrists developed in ice hockey timing of the ball meeting the racket strings at the correct point was the goal to get the desired effect. Bjorn was at the top of his game during that period. Mekkar was unable to copy Borg’s two handed backhand. Instead, he would try to emulate Connors left hand cross court deep returns, especially when receiving serves.

To cover more ground on the tennis court Mekkar might receive a serve from his opponent with the racquet in his left hand and switch the racket from one hand to the other. This had to be done quickly and frequently depending on the situation during a point rally. He got good enough to do this during individual points without looking and still have the proper grips on the tennis twig.

This was effective for Mekkar. At first, some others watching this thought it was a very odd technique, but Mekkar used anything that most useful and adaptable for him. By watching Rod Laver on film, he learned better footwork for efficient movement around the court. The Arctic teenager also had hockey quickness in his arsenal. Even though Mekkar was at the time slightly more dominantly right handed he was basically ambidextrous in many areas. It would freak out people on the opposite side of the tennis surface when Mekkar would return serves with the racquet in his left hand. His groundstrokes were better and reached closer to the back line from the left side.

Previous injuries had forced Mekkar to be able to use both arms and hands more evenly. One side would be enhanced while the injured part is recovering back to full strength and use. This was helpful for the advancement of his hockey career. Mekkar customized these additional developed abilities into his imaginary games like throwing a ball from both sides of the body. Due to more serious physical setbacks later on, those formerly developed skills have all been negated.

The adolescent’s understanding of the game and fairly competent tennis ability helped him get a job for a short time. The place of employment was at one of the premier sports clubs after he moved to down south to the big city to play hockey for one of the local teams. Mekkar considered the possibly of forming important contacts, at this exclusive place. Anything to help Mekkar reach his goal of playing pro hockey.

He has developed a philosophy that eventually you might need a skill or something facet you have learned for a particular future instance in your life. Akin to a reindeer no part is wasted. The trouble is Mekkar never knows when or where it might be required or exercised. The hope was Mekkar retained some of instruction previously given by Aslak, back in the village or while on the reindeer trek.

Monday, July 20, 2015


[This story is an improved version from mini cassette recordings of Mekkar’s actual voice in 1990 while hiking and walking as a University student; then, it was converted to a Windows Media Audio File and transcribed in 2011. Mekkar’s spoken English skills are nowhere near as polished as Saavo’s are. Continued from the first PART (B) in July, 2015.]

The two of them left the scene and scurried back to their hotel on foot. Soon afterward, Henrik arrived back from his meeting. Well, Mekkar assumed that his father came straight back from the important appointment. However, the boy did wonder why it was so long considering the events that recently had taken place. Mekkar’s questioning was never voiced because he trusted his papa. Eva was very stoic, as was her normal disposition, and unlike her vocal exhortations during the explosions earlier in the day.
Early the next morning, Mekkar, Henrik, and Eva left their temporary quarters while being escorted by armed solders in a small convoy to the airport. They went through all of the many checkpoints with no hassles. Along the way, the Arctic youngster thought to himself - that his papa must know some important people in this place. From Saigon, they boarded a commercial jet and flew non-stop to Bangkok, Thailand. When they were out of range of the fighting on the ground below, Mekkar finally breathed a sigh of relief. After their arrival in the Thailandese capital, the wait for their connecting flight out was long. Mekkar became irritable, restless, and uncomfortable while stuck in the airport. On the occasions when he did not take naps, Mekkar noticed the harried and crowded environment. In and around the airport was quite similar to where they had left. The major difference he observed was the lack of large number of troops everywhere. This one factor provided some solace to Mekkar as he grew more impatient.

A few people were bold enough to approach and discuss with Henrik and his secretary regarding their situation. Some would pat Mekkar on the top of his head or rub it, in front of them, and boy did he hate that. Others would ask the adults to describe what transpired in the war zone of Saigon. Many were stranded while waiting to leave Bangkok. Mekkar was too young and didn’t understand the concept of delayed flights and what that entailed. Well, for now at least. During this time period, Henrik left Eva and his son at the airport for another business engagement. Mekkar’s papa assured the boy that he would return in plenty of time for the next journey on their itinerary. Mekkar believed him, yet still missed his papa and felt assured that he was going to see him again soon. Mekkar just figured that the next trip would be a return back home. Contrary to the impression Mekkar had, this was not to be the case. Henrik had more adventure in mind for his son.

After what seemed to take forever, Eva and Mekkar saw his papa rush and arrive out of breath to meet them again. Approximately ten minutes later the overhead speaker blared out the correct flight information and passenger loading gate number. Mekkar was still in the dark regarding the next stop. If Eva knew, she wasn’t telling the boy anything about it while all three of their small group proceeded to the proper boarding location. The next flight immediately became a very rocky adventure, soon after takeoff, in the commuter plane. One time, Mekkar looked out the window where he was sitting, then pulled the window covering down quickly. He didn’t like what he saw outside. Since the plane’s elevation appeared to lower below the clouds than he was used to, Mekkar thought he saw small objects on the ground as they reached the next city of their expedition. It was quite obvious to anyone who had military training that some of those popping sounds outside the aircraft sounded like anti-aircraft gun fire rounds. The little Arctic Warrior had questions that couldn’t be answered such as why would anyone be shooting at us?

All of the passengers and crew could hear the rumbling of explosions that were taking place which grew louder upon their arrival. The boy was lost and had no idea where he was, the only thing he could do was trust his papa’s judgement. Mekkar voiced his concerns to his papa sitting next to him. The son asked, “Why are we are getting closer to the military action again?” The dangerous environment was obvious even to a young person such as Mekkar as the activity was more frequent. Henrik told them, “Hang on because it is going to be a bumpy ride before they land.” When Mekkar looked at Eva, he saw her apprehension and concluded that something was definitely not right. Mekkar’s mind raced and he didn’t know how to stop it. The boy thought to himself – here we go again. The last part of this flight circled a few times while the boy from the Far North was stricken by inner turbulence. It was almost with a sense of comfort when the flight touched down on the landing strip in Hanoi.

The three of them rode a shuttle near the center of the city. Henrik explained to his son while they motored together. Thus was exactly what Henrik wanted him to see. Both sides of the conflict from two different viewpoints. Henrik wanted to drive the point home that war is hell and it is not a pretty sight. The lesson that his papa wanted Mekkar to learn was that many things are not as they seem in the media and very divergent from real life. Additionally, the intention was for Mekkar not to lose his compassion for others due to becoming desensitized as a result. Suddenly, Henrik had to go to a separate area for another briefing. It was just the two of them now in an unfamiliar city.

Then, a stranger to Mekkar approached Eva and gave her some local currency. Mekkar never did figure out why. The boy began to have directed conclusions that his papa arranged everything and had it taken care of. Mekkar glanced at Eva and she looked more relaxed than on the plane. He figured that his brain was telling him that some rest was in order after the recent tense experiences. Mekkar let it slip out loud from his lips, “Where is this unlimited energy that all children are presumed to have because it was non existent right now”. Eva reassured him and tracked down the next mode of transportation. They gave the driver money and off they went back out of the main part of the capital city. The youngster didn’t recognize this type of transportation vehicle and thought it was distinct, but cool. At first, Mekkar thought it was a motorcycle, but it really wasn’t. The transport was similar to a bike where you have the peddler guide in front and the passengers sit in the back. The closest object Mekkar could compare it to a desert three wheeler machine. On the other hand, since the mode of transport was not motorized like a snowmobile back home, Mekkar thought it looked real flimsy and not sturdy at all. He compared the vehicle’s construction to the paper machete kites he saw previously. The Arctic lad squirmed and was not comfortable during the ride either. Still, he hoped this vehicle could take him where he needed to go, despite not knowing where they were being led. At least, the both of them were away from the utter confusion they had witnessed down south. The boy from the Arctic knew that he was special and extremely intelligent for someone his age. The problem was the youngster was not as smart as he thought was and was in unfamiliar territory to boot. Mekkar would soon find out that he was sorely mistaken in his assumptions and more would be in store for each one of them.

Their destination took on a lonely path some distance to the city. Mekkar missing his papa and was hoping to see him again. They youngster had that inner sense that he was going to reunite with Henrik at the end of this jaunt. About 5 minutes after disembarking from the transport and seeing his papa, the air raid sirens blared to warn the surrounding people. Mekkar wondered what was happening. Henrik said to Mekkar and Eva that a bombing sortie from sky was about to transpire soon. All of them followed other residents into the entrance of a make-shift underground bomb shelter, where they would be safe. Before long, the blasts began to pepper the area. The people in the temporary quarters below ground could feel reverberations and shock waves from bombs that exploded nearby. The lights in the dwelling flickered on and off continuously. 

At that moment, Henrik began to explain to Mekkar what was happening, why, and the various parties involved. Part of the intent of Mekkar’s papa was to reassure him, so he would not be scared to death. Henrik described the reasons behind the air bombing campaign. He said to Mekkar, “As in other wars in this century, one side is using this type of strategy to break the local population’s morale and willingness to continue to fight this war. There are only two possible outcomes against an enemy through the adoption of these tactics of total conflict. You either drive the people to be more dug-in and strengthen their resolve to outlast your forces. In other words, the side that carrying out the air raid is attempting to force the opposition, on the receiving end, to crack. If it is not successful, the tenacious spirit of the defenders counts on securing eventual victory. Their goal is to employ any means to hang on until the attacker’s will to fight achieve victory in the conflict has waned. Past history has shown that air campaign bombings alone never win wars. Instead, public resolve among the targeted population usually increases exponentially and resistance becomes stronger the longer the methods are employed against them. The stubborn will of some people is ingrained in different cultures to overcome and never surrender.” Mekkar’s papa spoke additional wise words to his son until the bombing had stopped. In single file, the people emerged from the shelter in a single file line. All three in their small group survived the chaos to continue on. Now, it was time to go home.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


[This story is an improved version from mini cassette recordings of Mekkar’s actual voice in 1990 while hiking and walking as a University student; then, it was converted to a Windows Media Audio File and transcribed in 2011. Mekkar’s spoken English skills are nowhere near as polished as Saavo’s are. Continued from the first PART (A) in April, 2015.]

Anyway, they were only in that city for a couple of days. On one of the nights there in Saigon, Mekkar commented that he had heard a few noises that made a boom sound in the distance. Those events continued to bother Mekkar as he stayed up most of the night while sitting by the open window as if he were on wolf watch on the trek. Added to his concern was that his papa, Henrik, had gone off somewhere unknown to Mekkar for a late night meeting.

The next day Mekkar and Eva, his chaperon, were walking down one of the streets not far from their hotel. They surveyed the open market to kill time and soak in the urban flavor. One booth had hanging pots and similar wares for sale. The stand was swamped with many customers, so the boy assumed the demand for those items was really high. By the crowd behavior he observed there, Mekkar believed that people greatly needed these goods because their homes were being destroyed by the ongoing warfare.

Eva and Mekkar strolled on and examined the different wares and food offered by the street vendors. Paper machete items caught Mekkar’s eye at one stand. In his mind, some of the featured articles appeared to be dragons and totally out of place here. Sure, maybe not exactly like the medieval creatures, but there were some similarities. There were plenty of objects that resembled monsters or displayed supernatural beings on them. Mekkar decided that he couldn’t leave until he purchased one that was made in the form of a flying kite. The Arctic boy figured the local people must be having a celebration or a holiday, just like back home. What seemed out of place to Mekkar was the number of soldiers here. Right then, he remembered his papa’s warning - that wherever there are troops, there is trouble and battles nearby. Mekkar even blurted out his thoughts to Eva and said, “Soldiers don’t buy kites. They shoot at things. I think those kites are going to be destroyed. What a silly thing to have here.” Mekkar was not grown up enough to understand the concept that often people use coping mechanisms to try to find meaning in the midst of chaos. For example, if a person lived in a war zone environment, one might attempt to find or do anything they could to forget about it. In a matter of speaking, escape from where an individual is and not focus on the hell and destruction around you. Any type of distraction could be a good thing for mental health. If that same individual is rewarded with a little bit of pleasure at the same time – that is an added bonus.

Well, Mekkar progressed onto the next booth that had meats and other food items available. Next to it was a cigarette and tobacco kiosk. Quite a few soldiers surrounded that particular stand and purchased those products. Smoking supplies were in great demand, while at the same time little product for purchase was available in that marketplace. Mekkar observed the continuing to grow long lines to that booth. The smell drove Mekkar to begin stepping away and attempt to stay some distance away due to the negative tobacco effects to his still developing body filtering system. Mekkar was intrigued by the increased frenzied activity as he and Eva wandered slowly along the street. The boy from the far north had never seen this much hustle and bustle in such a small area before. Mekkar had plenty of experience to compare it with and thought he had observed a lot of chaotic movement in his previous travels. Places like India with his papa, a couple of times to Brazil, a few places like that. However, those exhibited goods were far different from the novelties offered in this place. The Arctic youngster had traveled quite a bit in his young life, but had mostly spent the majority of his travel time on the same continent. So, this was a new region of the globe for him. Henrik was aware of this and wanted to expand his worldwide exposure to diverse places and people.

On one occasion in the outdoor bazaar, Mekkar and his chaperone Eva were stopped and questioned by the soldiers there. One of them asked him, “What are you doing here?” and went onto say, “You are too young, you don’t need to be in a place like this”. Mekkar didn’t fully comprehend the true meaning of that comment. Even though Mekkar was already learning the language and knew many of the words spoken to them, there was a lack of grasping the meaning behind the phrases. Mekkar was unable to distinguish the subtle messages as part of what was being said. The soldier’s real directive to him was get out of here before you get hurt or get killed. It appeared to Mekkar as though the infantryman looked at him with confusion. The serviceman assumed that Eva was a newspaper or media reporter instead of Mekkar’s guide. Anyone could easily see the young boy was out of his element and not a native. The other concern also expressed by the servicemen was why Eva would bring a child along with her to a war zone. Plus, expose the child to gruesome and dangerous visual images. Eva, on the other hand, nodded her head in the affirmative as Mekkar saw it. The boy believed she knew the purpose for both of them being here. In this situation, she acted demure as if she didn’t fully understand what the soldiers were saying or what was happening around her. However, Mekkar noticed the opposite was actually the case.

Anyway, both of them continued walking along down the street. All of a sudden, Mekkar and Eva heard some potshots. A couple of the gunfire rounds were fairly close too! Mekkar, crazy soul that he was, did not immediately duck behind cover. Instead, he just stood in the same spot on the sidewalk of the street they were previously strolling on and surveyed the surrounding area. He mistakenly figured since he was small enough that he would be hard to aim at and hit. Of course, it was not the smartest course of action and Eva told him so. Still, he did not seek protective cover for himself. He stayed right where he was while everyone else around him was scurrying to hide. Despite hearing the shots ring out Mekkar didn’t move. If he was an esteemed adult, it would have appeared as though he was posing in a majestic movie scene, but this was real. In this instance, other people sensed the boy was frozen, stiff, and scared. Soon, everyone’s attention was grabbed by the large flames shooting high into air. Then, a loud explosion happened with a resounding boom! Mekkar saw the flash and items flying, it seemed, everywhere. The soldier was right, some gruesome stuff. A collection of arms, hands, legs, an eyeball, and other debris were spread out along the ground. If it wasn’t the case before, Mekkar was in shock and definitely frozen in his tracks now.

Another couple of shots could be heard by the nearby corner. At that moment, a second explosion rang out. After this, Mekkar was absolutely unmoving as if he was frozen solid as ice. Mekkar was a brave boy, yet his mind was racing. He thought to himself, why can’t I move? It appeared the boy lost many of his senses and didn’t grasp the environment he was in. Mekkar was concerned that he might a target. Mekkar asked more questions in his mind whether he was next. His body still did not respond with any movement. Fight or flight syndrome had failed him.

Mekkar was made aware that the soldiers were powerless to protect him and Eva from harm. He had no idea which side the troops were on either. These were things that Mekkar’s papa had been speaking to him prior to this journey. Henrik wanted Mekkar to learn specific lessons. Henrik also wanted Mekkar to be able to use his mind and reason under duress. Very heady stuff for a young boy to experience in an unfamiliar environment. Instruction in life survival skills that would be necessary later on. The experience would be invaluable because everyone in the area Mekkar comes from has to fight for survival. Most definitely during the long winters. Not only that, they have to serve in their own country’s military for a time as well. There are not enough people for any healthy individual to get out of that type of service to their nation.

The authority’s even use physically challenged people in various tasks to fulfill their military obligations. They will find a person to meet a need or place them in tasks despite the disability. The idea is to maximize the abilities and blend them with the resources that are available. It is a necessary strategy because there are just not enough people to meet all the gaping holes in the region’s defense system, while still providing a perceived deterrent to any possible enemy. Women, along children that can stand up and walk, also have to serve in some capacity, even if is just to provide support to the soldiers.

Up to this point, Mekkar did not grasp what was materializing in front of him, although he saw it with his own eyes. Stupidly, Mekkar was fixated on the second explosion undeterred by flying objects from the wall of the affected building landing nearby. The burning building and spreading fire fully consumed all of his attention. People all around him were as if mad in a flurry of activity. Yet, he was still in a trance-like state. The Arctic boy wasn’t taking a step or going anywhere on his own. It was Eva’s responsibility to pull him away from danger. Mekkar gazed at the folks littering the street; they were like blurs at this point. He was mesmerized and distracted by the unwelcome sight that had unfolded before him. After what it seemed like forever, but actually was a short time, Eva grabbed him by the hand and they rushed for cover. This action finally snapped Mekkar out of the haze he was in. She told Mekkar, “There might be more to come. We have to protect ourselves just in case.” Mekkar was not feeling very brave anymore. Nonetheless, he tried to not show outwardly. Mekkar didn’t how to neither deal with nor react in this type of situation. The little Arctic Warrior started to think of how he could show more bravery in the face of another situation such as this. Trouble was, there might not be a next time.

Cautiously tracing their steps, Eva and Mekkar made it back to the hotel, which wasn’t far away from the damage zone. The day’s activities the young boy witnessed kept him frightened throughout the whole night and affected his sleep. The non-stop thoughts ran through his brain wondering if he was safe in defiance of the many soldiers currently patrolling this neighborhood. He remembered when there were a lot of troops in close proximity back at home, he felt much safer against harm. Mainly, Mekkar felt comfort in the fact the enemy that could be identified easily and early in the wide open Arctic region. Although opposing forces might be well above us dominating the air space, while at the same time, exposing home guard troops on the ground. These are concerns that northern hemisphere individuals, such as Mekkar, were not occupied with all that often. In contrast, these were daily worries that directly affected the local populations and mentality of many soldiers in Vietnam. If ignored, the alternative was to not adequately protect one’s self and ending up returning home in a body bag.

One of the soldiers told him and Eva, “We can’t have you walking around anywhere you want freely anymore because we fear for your safety. We are unable to guarantee your personal safety anymore”. The mood became tense, uptight, and restless. It seemed the explosions, accomplished their goal by creating a more restrictive and hostile environment for everyone in that area of the city. By this time, quite a few people had heard about the explosions and subsequent fire. Unfortunately, Mekkar got to see it with his own eyes. He had no idea regarding who did it or why. The little one from the far north was ignorant as to the combatants on each side and who opposed who in this conflict. He could only judge by his sight alone and attempt to mirror the locals who lived there as best as he could. This was still a large metropolis where most of the inhabitants were not dressed in military uniforms. The perceptive boy that Mekkar was, he decided that he would observe the city dwellers to determine when something was wrong. The indifferent conscripts appeared to keep any developments or news to themselves. In his mind, the troops only seemed to bark out warnings or orders in a heartless manner.

It is well to note, that Mekkar already had started playing sports by this time, so he was aware about being on the same team with other people. Working together toward a common goal was not foreign to him, despite the fact that the extremely stubborn Mekkar is not the most agreeable or cooperative individual. In the far north, Mekkar learned how to ski, skate, and walk all at the same time which provided early advantages for him and many in his age range.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


[This story is an improved version from mini cassette recordings of Mekkar’s actual voice in 1990 while hiking and walking as a University student; Then, it was converted to a Windows Media Audio File and transcribed in 2011. Mekkar’s spoken English skills are nowhere near as polished as Saavo’s are.]

Early on Sirga would make Mekkar work in the family restaurant by serving customers and carrying out tasks behind the scenes. Mekkar would do as Sirga commanded to avoid any possible repercussions. Some travelers visiting the area made comments to staff members after seeing young children employed at local businesses. Those individuals didn’t realize that was the normal practice of the regional culture. If a person observed closely, they would notice that Mekkar was not alone in that regard.

Mekkar did a lot of odd jobs as he progressed along his employment path. It was fortunate that he benefitted from a varying hourly schedule in most of his positions up to that point. Thus, the youngster from the Arctic was able to travel, all around the globe, with his papa and mama. Mekkar’s papa gradually climbed the corporate ladder of a conglomerate from his teen years on. With each step, as Henrik advanced upward, the perks became better. Travel was more extensive to additional different locales on this spinning orb. Mekkar did not get a free ride when he went along with his papa; the boy had to carry out various tasks assigned by Henrik or his office secretary. His duties involved having Mekkar sort things like paperwork and figure out some simple issues through analysis. As Mekkar got older and better at testing the data, his papa would entrust even more responsibility to a smart boy like him.

First, would fulfill their business requirements and then have time to experience some fun activities afterwards. Mekkar, of course, preferred the latter. Mekkar thought it was so cool to observe and experience many things on these trips that many people only read about. When he returned back home, while being questioned by his friends, others began to identify a different mindset of haughtiness regarding the overseas travel. After some time had passed Mekkar took to another reindeer trek. A long one, similar in distance to the last journey alongside the animals. It was not the same route as the last major journey, but more to the south in a westwardly direction

The emerging lad also participated in common pursuits along with the other boys his age. The harsh winter season restricted many outdoor activities, yet they adjusted and came up with new ones to entertain themselves. Mekkar spent the majority of his free time alongside his best friend Lasse and that included causing mischief together as well. Not to discount the fact, it seemed relatives always seemed to show up frequently. Mekkar always wondered why his residence, despite not located in the middle of the village, buzzed with liveliness on a regular basis. Probably, he figured it was the attraction of their multiple enterprises such as the small restaurant.

One example arranged by his mama forced Mekkar to work in a travel agency assisting one of Sirga’s friends. He didn’t have a choice in this matter. In the period before personal computer usage in this particular office, Mekkar would constantly be on the phone. Sometimes, simultaneously one phone with the car rental company on the line and the second phone in his hand with the customer. If both sides actually knew how young the person on his end truly was, they might have expressed great anger. However, Mekkar quickly became adept in his assignments, which belied his age. He also went beyond and familiarized himself with supplementary helpful information. For instance, airline schedules through an extensive timetable catalog called the Official Airline Guide (OAG). The positive gained from working there was exposure to travel industry and airline business. Plus, previous travels were another resource that he could draw upon and this would be useful in later endeavors.

Southeast Asia was an odyssey utterly different from anything Mekkar had encountered before. The area could be dangerous due to the conflict raging in some of those nations. He went with his papa and the experience was eye opening to say the least. Due to his background, age, and origin of his passport it was much easier to move around freely than some others. The corporation that Henrik worked for never chose sides in any active war zone. It was perceived as an opportunity for profit and many times business was conducted with both sides in any struggle. Who was on the right or wrong side was considered of no consequence with regard to business. Mekkar’s papa was brought in to setup the lengthy process of negotiation before any physical construction would begin. Arrangements, interaction, and on occasion bribery, with the correct important people in the area were necessary to set the operation in motion. Before building anything one must overcome required building codes, etc. in most places. The standards and methods followed are very different around the world. Henrik’s employer had one overriding rule: Each of the projects must be constructed for the benefit of people in some manner. Those same ventures were never war related and designed to make them difficult to convert for armed conflict purposes. The structure could function as a pharmaceutical plant, hospital, manufacturing factory, as well as similar type businesses. Henrik laid the initial groundwork because he was excellent at doing so. When actual construction began, Mekkar’s papa would move onto another assignment. Sadly, some those projects later became casualties of war or misidentified collateral damage through bombing raids. 

Mekkar’s papa wanted to expose him to new things and expand his vision of the world around him. The goal was to increase his learning far from his native vision and upbringing alone. The idea was to increase Mekkar’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Reminding Mekkar the same level of tranquility doesn’t exist in other areas of the globe, as compared to back home in the village. Yet, Mekkar’s papa did not explain these reasons to him because Henrik felt his son was too young to grasp the concepts and reasoning. Henrik went on to quiz him about some events and things he saw previously on the past extensive reindeer trek. Specifically, about the downed helicopters, the damage done to them, and weapons that he might recognize. Mekkar told his papa that he overhead Ansetti told stories of past events and spoke about other connected subjects in the trek tent. Henrik inquired if he was okay with this because he might see worse there. His papa also asked him many questions to determine if he understood what items were used and each one’s purpose. Henrik would then fill in the blanks for his son. Henrik was blunt and described the true situations they might encounter where the trio was travelling to. Contrary to what information could be gathered through the news and reading books, Mekkar’s papa would expose the environments and living conditions in other locales, especially ones away from home. This was the majority of the conversations between them on the travel itinerary. The result was Mekkar’s young mind was overtaxed and flooded by all of the information he attempted to digest as his papa communicated with him.

After leaving home, the trip took them through parts of India and Singapore onto their destination in Vietnam. Mekkar saw a flurry of activity on the ground on their final approach. The boy’s conscious mind became overwhelmed and he only remembered a small amount of what he saw by the time they finally arrived. Fortunately for him, fear was almost non-existent due to the presence of his papa. Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City was the destination on the agenda. Mekkar had never been in this part of the world before and hence, it was a culture shock for him. The reality of being accompanied by his papa and the additional company representative on this trip saved Mekkar from total unsettlement. At the time, Mekkar could not identify this lady who went along with them. The youngster was only aware that she was a person who worked with his papa. Later on, Mekkar found out that she was related to both of them was there to keep a close eye of him, specifically.

There was an abundance of soldiers moving to and fro. The boy observed they were not dressed like the ones back home. Mekkar thought their military fatigues were in an irregular arrangement of design and colors. There was a mixture of black, brown, and the base was green. It was in contrast to the soldiers’ attire back at home during the wintertime which was all white. Mekkar discerned that these troops all over the city didn’t have skis’ with them because they probably didn’t know how. His previous geographical studies fostered the question, how much snow could a place like this have? These troops had much larger packs on their backs and were normally either on foot or in a mechanized vehicle of some sort. Mekkar surveyed the surrounding area and discovered no snow anywhere to be found. Brave and bold boy that he was, Mekkar approached one of the troops and asked him how he was able to ski with all of his gear on. The warrior just kind of peered at him strangely and pushed him away. Mekkar thought maybe there was a communication gap. He did try to choose a soldier that had the appearance and insignia of a European that could speak a common tongue with him, that is English. Truly, how hard could that be? Eva explained to Mekkar, “Perhaps, the gun toting individual felt he was as out of place here as you do? The main difference is he is much larger and has a weapon.”

In this case Henrik, Mekkar, and his attendant were still tourists in this land. Quite a few inhabitants appeared to be scrambling around them, while at the same time, columns were on the march. A lot of hustle and bustle was taking place among the people along with a scattering of a few very poor residents. The extent between the rich and the poor was extremely evident; there was no way to hide it. Mekkar detected this but he did not understand its meaning until after they had left. Questions ran through his limited mind, what is my papa doing? He sends me to this place, but I don’t understand why. Even though, Eva did her best to explain it partially to him, the comprehension of it all still didn’t make sense. Later that day his papa tried to answer any questions Mekkar had, but he sensed much of the message wasn’t sinking in.

If he just kept a watchful eye out, some answers would come to him, thought Mekkar. Despite a very high intelligence, Mekkar still needed interpretation and portrayal along with what he saw. Two aspects were conspiring against Mekkar’s situational understanding: One was his relative youth and inexperience and the second, was the cultural influence and background. Mekkar grew up in a place with a language and customs that were to the point and very blunt. Back in his village, everyone was straightforward with “no beating around the bush” in any circumstance or situation. Definitely, recognition or ability to look beyond one’s vision or “read between the lines” was absent in his young mind. That comes with maturity.

Anyway, they were only in that city for a couple of days. One of the nights there in Saigon, Mekkar thought he had explosions way out in the distance. At that particular time, Henrik had gone off somewhere for a meeting. Mekkar had no clue as to his papa’s whereabouts. He figured the other side didn’t want any children around to distract them.

One of the times Mekkar, with Eva his chaperon, went walking down one of the streets in the urban area. They approached an open market, which resembled a small flea market. One booth had hanging pots and that type of thing. It was fairly crowded which indicated a demand for the items being sold. Mekkar assumed that people needed these goods due to the ongoing military activity around them. The little Arctic Warrior based this opinion upon the visual images of military wreckage on the reindeer trek. Eva and Mekkar were among the throng that viewed the different wares and food offered by the street vendors there. One stand caught Mekkar’s eye. He was still a kid after all. He was fascinated by the intricate paper machete items that looked like dragons to him. Maybe, not exactly like the medieval creatures, but had similarities in design. Some of the objects were in the form of flying kites and other household ornaments. Eva mentioned to Mekkar about an upcoming celebration or a holiday time related to the inhabitants of this area. The boy thought it would be hard to for the people to rejoice with all of these soldiers here. Yet, they are selling kites! Mekkar even blurted out to Eva and said, “Somebody is going to shoot at one of these kites. What a silly thing to have here.” Mekkar was too immature to understand the concept of people trying to find meaning and normalcy in the midst of chaos. When an individual, family, or group lives in a war zone environment, they need to find or do anything they could to help them forget about it. In a matter of speaking, escape from where an individual is, as well as, not focus on the misery and destruction around you. The view is that any type of distraction is a good thing. If a person gains a little bit of pleasure and mental healing, at the same time, regardless of…

Well, Mekkar fixated at this and then shuffled on to the next booth which sold meat and other food items. Next to it was a cigarette and tobacco kiosk. A considerable number of soldiers were there purchasing those products. Top of the line smoking items were in great demand, while at the same time, there was little quality product available to the public in that area for purchase. Mekkar observed long lines to that booth. He stayed some distance away due to the smell and negative tobacco effects to his still developing body filtering system. The pair continued wandering slowly along the street with Mekkar intrigued by the activity. This was the most frantic exchange activity he had seen in such a small area. Mekkar thought he had observed a lot of indiscriminate movement in his previous travels. Places like India with his papa, a couple of times to Brazil, and a few other venues. Still the ambience and resulting commotion were at a higher level here.