It was one of those wonted summer afternoons, somewhere deep inside the ancient, alluring forest topping the hill of Ekeberg, located off the southeastern fringe of the Norwegian capital, Oslo. For me and the rest of the people present in that small assembly, there was nothing particularly strange about being there, as that was the exact place we were, as of then, accustomed to be calling ‘home’. We had a certain number of tents and improvised lodgings made out of branches and tarpaulin, scattered here and there in between the firs and the hazelnut trees; and, in a clearing, somewhere amidst that improvised little village of ours, an array of trunks were placed so as to form a circular bench around our ever-burning hearth. An old, charred, tin teapot was resting atop the feeble fire. A lean steam-jet was ejected out of its elongated nozzle, and, blended with smoke produced out of burning wood and hash, was frolicking its way up the sky, through the sunlight bundles penetrating the forest canopy.
And we, the attendants of this marvelous phenomenon, were doing nothing but passing around the joints solemnly and attending in awe and strict silence – as if a single word or sigh would have irrevocably forced the magic of the moment to collapse into plain commonness. It was just one of those wonted summer afternoons in Ekeberg forest…
But then, the quiet was broken. Suddenly, the reverberation of trampled-upon twigs and dry leaves betrayed the presence of that one someone who was walking up the hill-slope towards our part. Letting the fumes rising, still, through the air unattended, our looks got nailed at the hill’s purview, curiously waiting to see who our impending visitor was going to be. It was a young fellow, whose curly, blond hair, light green eyes, boyish facial features, and minion build were making him look like the hero of some epic kids movie. The hippy clothes he was dressed in, the small backpack he was carrying on his shoulders, and the double bass he was dragging behind him, were adding a tone of surrealism to that imagined-of movie. The adhered-to silence upon his appearance, from our part, manifested that he was equally unknown to all. The smile of satisfaction he gave upon his seeing us, from his part, manifested that we were exactly who he was looking for. “Hi guys”, exclaimed he mirthfully, when his way was finished right in front of our circle.
As advised, he got rid of his burden and took a sit in the circle around the hearth. And, taking the few moments he needed to catch up with his breath, he proceeded with stating his business. He had set off from his hometown in Poland some months back to undertake a hitchhiking journey around Europe, exploring the continent and his soul, looking for adventures and something to do with his life. He solved our puzzlement about the double bass by explaining that he’s constrained to only catch rides with truckers and private automobilists who have a rack on top of their vehicle, which definitely makes the whole venture significantly more difficult, but, evidently, far from impracticable.
He just was dropped off by one of those truckers in Oslo, a few hours ago. He ended up, by chance, asking people in the vicinity of the hill for putting his tent inside their yard. And some of them made him aware of our little encampment inside the forest, where it should be an ideal place for him to settle down. It had taken him quite some time and effort wandering around the woods and looking for us. He had nearly grown weary and daunted enough to be just about to give up. Though, he had finally managed to find us and was very happy about it. We unanimously granted him the liberty to pitch his tent at any spot he finds suitable and have some rest.
He stayed with us for some length of time which I cannot tell – as time loses a great deal of its measurability-value when living in the woods. But I reckon it should have been anything between one and two weeks. For all this period, he kept a rather strict program. He would wake up very early in every morning; he would spend an hour or two breakfasting and chilling at the camp; he would take his instrument and head to the city on business; and he would come back late at night, retreating straight in the privacy of his tent.
During the few morning hours he would spend at the camp, outside of his tent, he wasn’t speaking much. He would mostly listen eagerly to what was spoken around him, and, at intervals, throw out some hints of the philosophical cognitions he’d been going through, during the late life-changing mission of his. One day, he also spoke to me about his immediate plan, which was to get up to some place in Northern Norway, where he was to volunteer for some clay building project, aiming to so acquire the skill to build his own clay house in Poland sometime in the future.
As for the nature of his business in town, he didn’t say much, either. In the course of those days, however, I chanced to run into him a few times in the city, and so I became aware of what he was up to. He often was stationed somewhere along the Karl Johans Street: Oslo’s main shopping street: where he was busking with his double bass trying to raise some dough. Other times, I met him roaming around the center, letting me know that he’s either about to meet some friend of his, or in the middle of some city-foraging mission: looking after accessible dumpsters or the various charity-food-rationing-sort-of-places around the city.
That’s pretty much how our Polish visitor was getting busy while in Oslo. And then, one morning, he didn’t show up and his tent was missing. As suddenly as he had appeared, he did that day disappear. Without saying much, as usual, he had packed his stuff up and had left. And must have, probably, been standing by the side of some highway, his arm extended and his thumb raised, the double bass resting besides him.