The Silent Ghost

The Silent Ghost

Silent. That was the best word to describe Trygg as a child. At school the other kids in the same class called him Trygg Tyst which meant Safe Silent or Trusty Quiet. It wasn’t a proper name or even good grammar, but they were after all only four, and it remained with him for his entire school career. Trygg could obviously hear and speak, it was just that most of the time he chose not to speak. Trygg’s teachers soon learnt not to bother asking him questions for his silence could and did outlast their efforts to make him respond. His responses to aught requiring one were monosyllabic, typically, Ja, Nej, Tak, Snälla, to wit, Yes, No, Thanks, Please. Naturally he was referred to the educational psychologists, but that went nowhere, for they couldn’t tell if he were even listening to them. They were a little incensed when they realised that he considered them and their efforts to be amusing.

When Trygg came home from school with bruises on his arms and shoulders consistent with being grabbed and shaken by an adult his mother took him to the hospital and insisted the police be informed. When asked who had hurt him his answer was classic Trygg, terse and to the point, “Teacher.” Given their experience trying to extract information from Trygg the police understood exactly why the infuriated educational psychologist trying to elicit a response from a totally silent and uninterested child had shaken him, but the law was the law and it was a clear cut case of assault that resulted in a very messy court case. Trygg’s father who had taken the matter to court asked for, and was granted, an injunction against the Ed Psychs having contact with not just one of, but all of his children, for they’d tried to elicit information from his other children concerning Trygg and though there’d been no assaults they had shouted at and frightened his children. But for the pleasure Trygg took in playing with friends at school, most of who were girls because he eschewed the rougher sport like games that most of the boys played, his mother would have withdrawn him and home schooled him. She and her husband were university graduates, she was a government physicist and her husband a professor of modern literature, so the matter would have been a problem to neither them nor the authorities.

Trygg’s parents had no problems with him, for he enjoyed playing with his older and younger siblings, his sisters as well as his brothers. At home, like at school, he eschewed the sport his brothers played and though he was not silent even with his family he was a quiet child. He was bright, very bright, having learnt to speak in sentences and walk before the age of twelve months. He’d been reading and writing by the age of three, though it had to be said his writing was not of the best, and he was passionately interested in logic puzzles. Hi writing contained many symbols that seemed to keep reappearing that were unrecognisable. When asked he said they were for puzzles, which if inexplicable did have a certain logic to it. It soon became apparent that his abilities were to an extent working against him. Over a dozen languages were in use in the neighbourhood around his home and some of them used a Cyrillic alphabet. Trygg tended to use them all indiscriminately which caused adults issues, but didn’t seem to bother him, for he could read back what he had written in any language requested. It was his father who solved the problem for him, not by simplifying things, but by doing something that he knew Trigg would happily engage with, he taught him more. Specifically, he shewed Trygg the International Phonetic Alphabet, the IPA. The IPA had more symbols than most other alphabets, but each was only ever pronounced one way and it could be applied to all languages. Trygg was delighted and had the IPA mastered in a matter of hours.

Trygg was an irritation to many of his teachers. He wouldn’t engage with any he didn’t wish to, and because of the injunction against the Ed Psychs, that also prevented any from attempting to interview Trygg or his siblings, they were not able to discover what his ‘problems’ and ‘special educational needs’ were. It would have been an impossible step for them to take to realise that they were his problems and his special educational needs were merely to be left alone so as not to distract him from soaking up information. Too they knew the head teacher was terrified that if any of them pushed matters Trygg’s mother would have them all in court, so they had to back off and just accept matters as they were. Trygg’s parents would not allow others to have access to question any of their children and said Trygg was more than intelligent enough to find his own way without their interference. At six Trygg’s mother entered him for the state examinations that were normally taken by children between the ages of ten and fourteen, which he passed and was placed first for the country in. That as his mother explained to his class teacher meant she could take him out of school till he was at least twelve and there wasn’t a thing the school or any else could do about it. “So I suggest you stop harassing him, or I shall do just that, and my husband will institute legal proceedings against you all.” Trygg would neither take part in drama nor explain why he wouldn’t. It was not a government required class, so eventually they allowed him to read in peace. That everything he read was adult in nature and virtually all was either non fiction or a text book intended for far older children was a further cause of discontent to his teachers.

When Trygg went to the upper school he excelled at everything, but still refused to engage in drama, sport or anything else he considered to be a frivolous waste of his time like the school dances. That all his siblings attended the dances and refused to comment on Trygg’s failure to attend was a further source of irritation to the school’s staff. Unlike the lower school the upper school had a legal obligation to provide some form of organised physical activity, as opposed to just playground activities between lessons, for every child. The head teacher was concerned they would be held accountable for something that was outside their control. Fortunately for the school Trygg’s physics teacher was a part time member of the military reserve that had a local youth branch. She managed to persuade the local barracks commandant to accept Trygg three years younger than was normal, and the government education authorities were happy to accept the activity as a substitute for playing ice hockey and basket ball. The local education authorities perforce had to accept the situation which was a relief to the school. Trygg considered it to be an interesting and worthwhile thing to do. His father was delighted, his mother less so, but she held her peace and allowed her husband and six children to go hunting for the family’s meals without complaint. Before Trygg left school for University thousands of other school children across the nation had joined the military youth rather than pursue sport, and the military considered it to be an excellent way to access and filter those who wished to join up as career officers and enlisteds.

All Trygg’s teachers wished him to pursue their subjects at university, but true to form he wouldn’t even answer them when questioned as to his intentions. Only his family knew what he did with his spare time and when questioned his siblings said that he read a lot and much of it was in that funny writing that he used. The school staff assumed they meant IPA which they’d all had to learn, taking weeks not hours to so do, because unless specifically instructed to do otherwise that was what Trygg wrote everything in. If one of the staff had upset him unless they remembered to say otherwise he wrote work for them in any one of the numerous local languages that used Cyrillic script. They could all read it but few were fluent in all the local languages and most read Cyrillic only slowly. Trygg’s parent’s knew what he was reading, and writing too, in his spare time, but they refused to comment, for Trygg had long been unique carving out a unique future that would have suited none else, and whilst supporting Trygg was more onerous than supporting their five other children had proven to be that was they considered what parenthood was about, supporting their children, all their children, and no matter who it was one of them would have been the most difficult, it just happened to be Trygg.

It was a shock to all his teachers when Trigg left school to study not a STEM(1) subject as all had assumed he would but old Scandinavian languages and literature. Known to only a few other than his parents he was already a master of Viking history and literature, was fluent in every form of runes that were known to exist and the funny stuff his siblings had said he read was not IPA but facsimile copies of all original Viking literature known at the time including what had been discovered in North America. He was still virtually silent, and subject to considerable criticism from the staff at both his schools, but Trygg was taken very seriously at university by his peers and by his lecturers.

Then Trigg disappeared from sight for a few years. His ex teachers asked Trigg’s siblings what he was doing when they attended reunion events and were told, “Studying abroad. Recently Trigg has been working with a group of archaeologists in America concerning Viking visits there. It seems there were considerable numbers of visits and DNA analysis suggests a number of them stayed there and have flourishing groups of descendents. Trygg has been involved in the writing of a number of papers that have been published on the subject. They are available to read on the internet and translations of the runes they concern are available there too.”

When Trigg was twenty-eight his oldest sister Sigrid was questioned yet again. Her reply was cold, “Why do you keep asking? You never treated Trygg well, so what has changed? Are you desperate to have evidence of failure? Because if so you’ll be disappointed.”

Stung by her tone, the teacher, who had had Trygg in one of his classes, replied, “Trygg was difficult and refused to be helped. I wish failure on none, but had the child been more coöperative and all of you, his family so too, doubtless he would have achieved far more. His failure is all down to the family he grew up in. I tried to look up those so called papers your brother Thorbjörn told me existed, but they don’t. Trygg has neither authored nor co authored anything. What sticks in my throat is his arrogance, and we all had to accept it due to that stupid Ed Psych who hurt him resulting in a court order to leave all of you alone. He wouldn’t do drama, he wouldn’t do sport and he wouldn’t attend school dances and we had to put up with that. When your mother threatened to home school him the head should have said, ‘Fine, do it,’ at least that way we wouldn’t have had to put up with a pupil sticking the middle finger up to the staff. Trygg deserves whatever failure he is living with.”

To his surprise Sigrid broke out into peals of laughter. “You? Help Trygg? It’s nothing but arrogance on your part to even imagine that you were ever intelligent enough to offer Trygg help of any kind. Self taught, Trygg is the one who deciphered and translated the newly discovered American Viking writings and runes that have given an insight into our ancestors the like of which we had never considered before. At school we all protected all our siblings because conceited bullies like you are in the majority in the teaching trade. I say trade because there is no way folk like you will ever deserve to be regarded as members of a profession. Every day Trygg engaged in a consummate drama from the moment of walking into the school to the moment of walking out of it. It was all an act, a performance that had you all completely taken in for years. As for sport, there were any number, girls as well as boys who were no more interested in it than Trygg. The proof of that is the three or four hundred in the military youth reserve that you have had at the school ever since, and the thousands involved across the nation. But for my family, it’s amusing that all of us always attended the dances with our younger siblings and friends as was not only permitted but requested by the school to make for a good social event. Lief, my oldest brother, always took a very pretty girl called Åve(2) as his partner and she never missed a dance. I know you and the other teachers noticed her, for you frequently asked us questions as to who she was, where she lived and where she was educated. The dozens of scientific papers Thorbjörn referred to were published under the names of Professors Åve and Erik Lindström. Doubtless you’ll have read of their amazing discoveries in the mainstream media. Erik is an archaeologist and he and Åve now have three children.” It was clear from the look on the teacher’s face he had no idea why Sigrid was telling him this, so she finally stuck the knife in and said, “You should have known, for it was in the school records, that Åve was Trygg’s middle name.”

1. STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics.
2. Åve, ghost.

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