You wimp! You can’t decide anything by yourself!

I was a fan of a local country band called Bugs Bunny when I was in junior high school and they were going to give a performance at an open-air municipal auditorium. Their performance was one of the series of the local traditional musical event. It would start at 6:30 p.m. while my curfew was 7:00 p.m., which meant I needed an exceptional permission from my parents. My father readily gave it, telling me that he used to go to the event himself when he was young. He guaranteed it would be so much fun. I was changing my clothes before leaving home on that day when my mother asked what I was doing. I told her about the event, and she said madly, “ Are you out of your mind? Your curfew is seven o’clock!” I explained that my father had allowed me to go, but she kept saying, “No way! You can’t go!” I called out to my father for help and she demanded angrily, “Did you allow this? Did you, really?” He said yes in a faint voice and got under her fiery anger. I begged him to persuade her, but her definite noes drowned out his “It’s rather an educational event.” At last, he said to me, “You can’t go because your mother says so.” That was the last straw. I screamed at him, “You wimp! You can’t decide anything by yourself! I hate you!” I called my friend crying, to tell her that I couldn’t make it because my father was my mother’s servant, and stopped speaking to him. On the next evening, he came into my room hesitantly. As I ignored, he put a bag on my desk and said “Sorry.” After he left, I opened the bag and inside was a book of poems, which I had wanted for some time. I had talked about it casually at dinner and he remembered. He gave me a gift instead of confronting my mother. A few years later though, his character changed completely for an unexpected reason. It happened when I decided to be a musician after high school. Until then, he was a gentle father who liked music so much that he recorded my singing for practice when I was little and bought me records, a stereo and a guitar. But since I chose music as my career, he has been mean and spiteful to me and been opposed to my decision to date. Who would think one career choice reverses someone’s personality?…

You’re not crying. You’re just clearing your eyes.

My father was an attentive father. He treated me so nicely throughout my childhood. My mother didn’t like how he treated me because she believed he was just spoiling me. Every time he did a nice thing to me, she got angry. To avoid her anger, he had learned to give me a treat without her presence. Near my home was a temple famous for the five-storied pagoda, and a fair was held along the approach to it once a month. A relative of ours had a booth at the fair and my father helped carry merchandise every month. He never forgot to get some toys for me there when his work was done. There was no greater pleasure for me than seeing him entering the house, waving some play house items to me. Of course he was scolded by my mother when she caught it. I usually slept beside my grandparents and I had suffered from chronic insomnia in my childhood. Once in a while, I had a happy occasion to sleep with my parents when my grandparents were on their trip. On one of those occasions, my mother was taking a bath when my father came to futon next to me. Since my parents didn’t know about my insomnia, he was surprised I was still awake. He thought I couldn’t sleep because I was too hungry. Not to be caught by my mother, he stealthily got out of the room, sneaked into the kitchen, made a rice ball and brought it to me. He told me to finish it before my mother came out of the bathroom. Seeing me devouring it, he said that he had never made a rice ball by himself before and didn’t know how. It was surely the ugliest rice ball, but the most delicious one I ever had. My mother also didn’t like to see me cry. She had told me not to cry because crying made me look like an idiot. While my little sister cried all the time, I tried not to as hard as I could. But as a small child, I sometimes couldn’t help it and my mother would get angry with me for crying. In those cases, my father always said to me, “You’re not crying, are you? You’re just clearing your eyes, right?” I hadn’t noticed until recently that there are the exact words in my song ‘Sunrise’. I’ve put his words unconsciously…

I feel like a fugitive

Japan has a census every five years and now it’s the time. Back in my hometown, the chair or a leader of the area used to be entrusted with distribution and collection of the forms for the whole block as voluntary work. Then, the forms would be handed to the area’s public office by him or her. When my father took charge of it, he looked through all the forms after collecting them for possible errors in filling them out, that was also one of the responsibilities. But, as he was checking errors in the forms, he inevitably acquired neighbors’ personal information, such as the income, the family members, the work place, and the academic background. I felt extremely unpleasant about it. After I left my hometown and was on my own, I had never submitted a census, as I knew what a person who came to collect the form did with my form. Probably because of the similar complaints, the government has changed rules for this year’s census. They hired people to distribute and collect the forms and the form should be sealed by a person who filled it out. With this way, the personal information should be protected from some neighbor. Instead, the form collection person is persistent ever, now that it’s a job. They keep coming up to my apartment and even call after me on the streets in the neighborhood. I go out sneakily, looking around for a collection person. I feel like a fugitive every day…

I tried one last time under the dim light of a mercury lamp.

Here, I make an embarrassing confession. I hadn’t been able to ride a bicycle without training wheels until the fifth grade. I always believe that riding a bicycle successfully for the first time should be like the one in the movie ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ where a father played by Dustin Hoffman jumps for joy and takes a picture of his son’s first ride. Sadly, parents in real life are too defective. My parents used to be farmers who worked out on the field from dawn to night. They hardly took a day off and when they did, it was a rainy day. During winter when their work was a little less hectic, they would bring crops from the field to a communal wash place by the small park near our home. They spent the rest of the day washing the crops by hand with their long booted feet soaked in freezing water. My father used a short interval between the field and the wash place to teach me to ride a bicycle. He couldn’t spare more time and I wasn’t a fast learner. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I became the only one among the kids of around the same age in the neighborhood who couldn’t ride a bike.

One day, my mother took me to the park with my sister on her way to work. Because she told us to bring our bicycles, I thought she would teach me this time. But she spotted a couple of older kids in the park, asked them to teach me and rushed into the wash place. With the kids’ help, my younger sister by four years got to ride a bike without training wheels, while I couldn’t. The kids laughed at me. When my mother poked her head around the door of the wash place and asked them how it went, they said, “She’s no good! Her sister rode it first!”

Much later, I was already close to my then-best friend Junko and took courage to ask her to teach me. She helped me in the park earnestly until it went dark. As it was time to go home, I tried one last time under the dim light of a mercury lamp. And I finally made it. Behind me, I heard Junko shouting for joy, “She’s riding! She made it! Hooray!” When I stopped and looked back, I saw her face flush with happiness. I miss her. More than I miss my parents…

It’s no good! A girl again!

I had a dream about my sister last night. In each and every dream about
her, she takes my parents away from me. She’s four years younger than I
am and I still remember the time when she was born. Although everybody
told me that I must have been very happy to become a big sister, I felt
gloomy more and more as my mother’s due date was drawing near. I
strongly wished my sister would never be born because I knew grown-ups’
attention would leave me. And I was right. She was born to be my
parents’ favorite. My mother especially stood by her all the time, both
physically and mentally. I was sent away to my grandparents’ room to
sleep with them. My mother’s arms and lap were always occupied by my
sister and I was constantly driven away to my father. Only consolation
for me was my grandfather’s attitude. Because Japan was excessively
male-dominated –it still is, in my opinion-, he was bitterly
disappointed that his newly born grandchild was a girl again. He kept
complaining about it to his neighbor friends, saying ‘It’s no good! A
girl again! No good!’ For that matter, he had six grandchildren in all
and none of them was a boy. I regard it as a curse. My sister still gets
along well with my parents as their favorite, lives with them in my
hometown, and they brag about whatever she does while they criticize for
whatever I do. To this day, they remain taken away from me by my
sister. It can be a good thing for me, though…

from Tumblr https://hidemiwoods.tumblr.com/post/186200882702