talisman

The house in which I grew up was about 100
years old. Pieces of the wall plaster were falling
off little by little and it was to be rebuilt when I
was ten. During the days of moving out, my
grandmother took out an old paper talisman
from her ancient drawers. It had a mysterious
picture on it. According to my grandmother,
the talisman drew clothes if it was kept in
drawers so that the drawers would be filled
with clothes. She gave it to me and told me
that I would never be short of clothes. I didn’t
say out loud but thought it wouldn’t work
because I knew how small her wardrobe was.
When our new house was completed, I had my
own room for the first time and kept the
talisman in my wardrobe. As I thought, I was
always short of clothes for years.
Although the talisman didn’t work, I brought
it with me when I left my hometown. Since
then, the number of my clothes has been
increasing and now, my closet is full of clothes.
The talisman does work after all, but it has an
awfully delayed effect. Another magic is, that
almost all of my clothes cost around $10…

Episode From An Old Tree in Kyoto /Hodemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

The family had run away with huge debt.

When I lived in my hometown, there was our distant relative’s house at the back of ours. The relation was too distant for us to consider them as more than old neighbors. The man in the family was usually just one of our neighbors but once a year, he behaved as if he was our close relative. In the New Year, he would visit our house, coming right into the living room. No doorbell, nor calling. He would simply walk in, pass along the hallway, open the living room door and say, ‘Happy New Year!’ Unlike my parents, I would never complain about his behavior, though, because he gave me money as a New Year’s gift each time, which was also the Japanese tradition. Actually, he was generous all the time. He liked to hold events for the neighborhood such as a golf competition, and treat people to dinner and drinks. He had long been a PTA president. He was well-off enough to build a new house of a modern style with the lawn. I often heard his daughter play the piano. The mystery was, we didn’t know exactly what he did to afford his generosity. One day, we noticed that we hadn’t seen him and his family for days. Then, his house got off limits with a banner of foreclosure. The family had run away with huge debt. A collection agency came to our home, as they thought we knew his whereabouts as a distant relative. Later on, his beautiful new house was demolished. The lavish family disappeared with its house…

I was over the moon

During the construction of my family’s new house, many contractors and carpenters came and worked every day. As we lived in barns as a makeshift home at the edge of the construction site, I saw them regularly and had a crush on one of the carpenters. He would come to work by car and pass under a pedestrian bridge at the almost exact time every morning. I used the bridge to the elementary school, and every morning when I was walking on the bridge, his car passed beneath it. I waved at him and he waved back at me every time. One day, while I was hanging around near the construction site, he came up to me and handed me a key chain in which miniature playing cards were contained. He said it was a small gift for me. I was over the moon. But, that was the last time I saw him. Because the construction company executive ran away with all the money my family had paid, the pay for the workers stopped. The construction was abandoned and no one came to work anymore. Only a carpenter with craftsmanship who carved beautiful patterns on the wooden thresholds came to continue his work without pay after his new job. But the carpenter I had a crush on never showed, and his car never passed under the pedestrian bridge. I cherished the miniature playing cards for a long time…

disappeared with the whole money

My preparing for moving recalls the time my family built a new house when I was nine years old. By then, our house got too old to live in, as it had stood for about 100 years. After the old house was destroyed, we had lived in our old barns that stood beside the old house until the new house was completed. That was when I became ill and got nephritis. In the middle of the construction, an executive of the construction company that was building our new house disappeared with the whole money our family paid. The construction stopped and our new house was left only as the wooden frame. Since my mother was extremely vain, reporting it to the police was out of the question. She turned to her relative who ran a construction company in a distant town from us. He kindly came all the way from there, fixed the plan and rearranged everything for us. Although we lost money, our new house was up at last thanks to him. A couple of years later, we read a news article on a local newspaper that the construction company executive had been found dead in a gutter. He must have had much bigger troubles other than his embezzlement of my family’s money while he was on the run…

Since I knew my future

As long as I could remember, my family members had told me that I was a successor of the family and I was to live with my family all my life as my father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather and on and on and on did, by taking a husband into our family to bear our family name. They kept saying that as a usual chant so repeatedly that I was sort of under the spell that I would be stuck to the house as a successor until the day I died. So, I was an outsider when other girls chatted giggly about what last name they would bear after their marriage or where they would live in the future. I knew what my last name and what my future address would be because they wouldn’t be changed. My whole life was so predictable for that matter. Since I knew my future, I had no interest in my life, and days were so boring. I changed my future completely by abandoning my family, my friends, my hometown and the old tradition. Now, I’m free from my once-arranged future. Instead, I dread my uncertain future everyday…