His wife was very careful about money.

When I was eight, my uncle got married and left our house. He had collected small change in big jars and gave all of them to me when he left. I had always wanted him to leave soon, but I found a lot of toys that he had given me in all those years besides the small change. About five years later, he also gave me my first guitar. It was a white classic guitar that he won as a prize for a golf game with his friends. Although it was a cheap model, I had played it for years until it got completely tattered and I bought a new one for my first gig. While my uncle was a giver, his wife was very careful about money. She came to sell her homemade bread to my parents, or reaped away with her neighbors most of persimmons that my parents grew in my family’s field. Long after I left home for music, she visited my parents’ house and asked about my first white guitar. According to my mother, she wanted it back now that I had left home and hadn’t used it anymore. I was purely surprised that she remembered the guitar. It must have been her longtime grudge that my uncle gave it to me. After 10 years, she retrieved the worn-out, battered guitar at long last…

other self was born inside me

I have two different personalities inside myself. They’re in stark contrast with each other and that often confuses me. I know fame and money would do no good and I try to live only in order to make good music, nothing else. But my other self always wants to live in Monaco and own a Formula One team. It sneers at my way of living and makes me feel miserable. I vividly remember the moment this other self was born inside me. It was when I was in the second grade. Until then, I hadn’t talked to anyone but my family members, all through the years of kindergarten and the first grade at elementary school. To me, people outside my family were all evil and stupid. I despised them for some reason, and ignored them, as I didn’t want to be one of them. As a result, my social life as a child was atrocious. Because of my attitude, other kids constantly picked on me, slandered and bad-mouthed. I was always alone and loathed school so much that I couldn’t sleep every night of schooldays. I sensed that I couldn’t live like this any longer. I was about to be broken like a machine with no lubricant, and couldn’t stand it anymore. I knew the way to make my life easier was to become one of them. After long deliberation, I came to a decision, and my other self was born. I started talking to people, laughing with them, playing with them, by enduring the foolishness. I became popular and my school life turned into a less nightmare although my true self was very unhappy. Now I’ve grown up and chosen to live as my true self. Still, my other half disturbs me once in a while by craving fame and money. Am I really sure that other self isn’t my true self? What if the other self is true me…?

A Call to Hell hr623

I checked out the hotel on the last day of my trip to the western region of Japan, flew from Kansai Airport and took an airport bus to the station where I would catch a bullet train heading home. When I finished a late lunch near the station, I noticed there had been voice mail from my mother on my cell phone. My parents had declined to meet me the day before when I was going to visit them who live in the western Japan. I thought the voice mail was about lame excuses to hide the fact that they didn’t want to see me, and called her back although my phone’s battery was extremely low.
I started sarcastically, “It was a pity that we couldn’t meet yesterday although it was a once-a-year opportunity, wasn’t it?” to hear her made-up excuse. Then, she replied, “Huh? Yesterday?” sounding like she had already forgotten about it. And she continued on as if it wasn’t important at all. What she wanted to tell me was why my parents had run away from their condo where my sister had begun to live with them, which I had learned also the day before as a surprise.
According to my mother, my parents had prepared an envelope that contained ten thousand dollars for me for a tax avoidance reason. They were going to hand it to me if I visited them because they didn’t know my bank account number to wire it. They had put the envelope on the Buddhist alter of their home. When my sister found it, she got into frenzy and began to hit my father, shouting, “Get out of this condo!” As her violence didn’t stop, they ran away with almost nothing but the clothes they wore. They had stayed at a hotel for a few days and moved in a short-term rental apartment that my sister later traced. As they wouldn’t let her in, she scratched my father’s car, broke his bicycle, torn window screens and put garbage at the door. They had been moving from one place to another for three weeks because she found them each time and repeated her harassment. They were still looking for another apartment to escape from my sister. As if to sum up, my mother said to me, “We couldn’t get back to our home where the envelope that had money we were going to give you sit. Your sister stole your money.”
I had heard about some abuse my parents have been inflicted from my sister when my mother called me a month ago and told me that she was in hell. But I hadn’t known things have gotten even worse like this. Although I just learned all her miseries, only one thing seized my mind – ten thousand dollars. It triggered something in me and my eyes turned dollar signs like a cartoon. I swiftly responded her that it happened because they had prepared it in cash and that I would give her my bank account number not to repeat this in the future. I was desperately trying to retrieve the ten thousand dollars. I thought they might wire it again once they got my bank account number. By then, my cell phone’s electrical voice had uttered ‘Low Battery’ and ‘Charge Now’ for several times over my mother’s lamenting. I told her to get a piece of paper and a pen immediately and started the names of my bank and its branch. She was getting them so awfully slowly that I suspected she did it intentionally. After a painful wait, I started the number. But right before the first digit came out of my mouth, my phone went dead.
I felt quite chilly because the timing was so precise that it didn’t seem coincident. I also felt ten thousand dollars were slipping through my fingers. I looked around for pay phones to finish the number, but couldn’t find one. I came home by bullet train, recharged my cell phone, and called back my parents. Both of them didn’t answer. I called them again the next day. My father answered this time with the same vacant voice as I heard on the phone during the trip. He told me that he couldn’t talk with me now as he was in the real estate agent’s office for another apartment hunting to hide from my sister. He sounded completely absent-minded and made me feel uncertain. My mother came up to the phone and told me their effort would be in vain anyway since my sister would eventually find out their new place somehow. I offered that I would find an apartment for them around where I live if they didn’t bother it would be 500 miles away from where they are now. It was when my mother burst into tears again. “Will YOU help me? Really?”, she bawled, as if she couldn’t believe my words.
After I hung up the phone without telling her my bank account number, I finally came to my senses. My dollar signs tumbled down from my eyes and my reason returned. My mother is, has always been, a liar. She tells any kind of lies from big to small to anyone. She also has set her mind to make me unhappy in every possible way. She has wielded countless tactics for that purpose. The marked example was when the music label my partner and I started finally got on track after strenuous years. When she noticed our beginning of success, she offered financial support to back me up. I foolishly trusted her because she was my mother. My partner and I moved to a bigger office and hired more staffs. Shortly after that, she tried to take over our business by threatening to stop financial aid unless we handed over the profit. I realized that she had offered money in the first place to crush our business, but it was too late. Our label suffered heavy losses and damage with her sudden finance withdrawal. Thinking back my bitter experiences of many years, it has been proven that she never does anything good for me and she never hopes my well-being. It’s totally a blue dahlia that she would give me any money. I almost took in her ‘ten thousand dollars’ this time and was stupid enough to be about to tell her my bank account number.
I wonder why I keep being fooled by my mother after all those years from childhood. My mother has never been forgiven for what she did and things have increasingly gotten worse around her year after year. I may wish somewhere in my mind that she is finally brought back to her sense and cleans up her act. Then she becomes a better person and someday she accepts me and loves me. Probably those vain hopes are my weakness on which my mother plays with her lies. Or more simply, like mother like daughter, I’m as greedy as my mother, that’s why I easily fall for her…

never seen her since

When the construction company executive disappeared with my family’s money, his wife came to our place with his daughter. She wanted us to know that she wouldn’t shelter him, that she didn’t have any idea of his whereabouts either, and how sorry she felt. She begged not to report to the police. While the grave meeting was held, I was sent to play outside with his daughter. I was nine, and she was a year or two younger. I used to be shy and wasn’t good at being friendly with someone so quickly. But with her, I got along so well at once for some reason. Along the narrow way at the back of my house, clovers grew rampantly. I taught her how to play ‘clover wrestling’ and it became uncontrollable fun. I had never laughed so hard so much in one day. That was the most fun I had ever had in my life. We promised to play together again and she left with her mother. I’ve never seen her since. As her father’s body was found in a gutter a couple of years after the day we became friends, I wonder how her life turned out and how she is now. I hope she’s happy somewhere now…

Maybe I’m beginning to become a nutcase

An artist who has a contract with a major record company generally has a deadline for work. Due to the cost of studio use and the promotion schedule, they often need to finish recording in a couple of weeks. Sometimes, it requires compromise and the work results in what they didn’t want. I, on the other hand, have no contract, no obligation, no bind. I’ve been working on the current song for seven years now, including two years of recording. These years have been the happiest time in my life, with contentment from work. I’m in an ideal position to pursue my music as much as I want, so to speak. I always wonder why people don’t live like this. Of course, if they do, fame and money is almost certainly hopeless as is my case. I have no contract, no fame, no money, and call it ideal. Maybe I’m beginning to become a nutcase…

All I had to do was to receive them

I placed an order of groceries at an online supermarket and had them delivered today. They carried a special promotion to give a customer a box of laundry detergent for free any $50 or above purchase. I had calculated carefully and made the total $50.48. After the delivery person left, I noticed the detergent was missing. There was a piece of paper instead, that said one of the items I’d ordered was sold out and its price was subtracted from the total. As a result, the new total got less than $50. I felt furious and was on the verge of calling for complaint when I recalled the delivery person. In the midst of the unbearable heat, he came up to my door, carrying heavy grocery bags and boxes, yet smiling and courteous. All I had to do was to receive them, and still, I was complaining about a dollar or so. I wonder why the smaller money is, the more persistently I pursue…