Banana Yoshimoto

At that moment I had a thrilling sharp intuition. I knew it as if I held it in my hands: In the gloom of death that surrounded the two of us, we were just at the point of approaching and negotiating a gentle curve. If we bypassed it, we would split off into different directions. In that case, we would forever remain just friends.

For ten years I had been protected, wrapped up in something like a blanket that had been stitched together from all kinds of different things. But people never notice that warmth until after they’ve emerged. You don’t even notice that you’ve been inside until it’s too late for you ever to go back– that’s how perfect the temperature of that blanket is.

We ran into lots of old friends. Friends from elementary school, junior high school, high school. Everyone had matured in their own way, and even as we stood face to face with them they seemed like people from dreams, sudden glimpses through the fences of our tangled memories. We smiled and waved, exchanged a few words, and then walked on in our separate directions.

Even when I try to stir myself up, I just get irritated because I can’t make anything come out. And in the middle of the night I lie here thinking about all this. If I don’t get back on track somehow, I’m dead, that’s the sense I get. There isn’t a single strong emotion inside me.

Hitoshi: I’ll never be able to be here again. As the minutes slide by, I move on. The flow of time is something I cannot stop. I haven’t a choice. I go. One caravan has stopped, another starts up. There are people I’ve yet to meet, others I’ll never see again. People who are gone before you know it, people who are just passing through. Even as we exchange hellos, they seem to grow transparent. I must keep living with the flowing river before my eyes. I earnestly pray that a trace of my girl-child self will always be with you. For waving good-bye, I thank you.

In places where a loved one has died, time stops for eternity. If I stand on the very spot, one says to oneself, like a prayer, might I feel the pain he felt? They say that on a visit to an old castle or whatever, the history of the place, the presence of people who walked there many years ago, can be felt in the body. Before, when I heard things like that, I would think, what are they talking about? But i felt I understood it now.

To the extent that I had come to understand that despair does not necessarily result in annihilation, that one can go on as usual in spite of it, I had become hardened. Was this what it means to be an adult, to live with ugly ambiguities? I didn’t like it, but it made it easier to go on.