おやすみなさい, 家 /Goodnight House

August 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Goodbye Kyoto. I’m on the tatami floor of our little house, waiting around. Outside it’s good weather for broiling chickens in the open air. Hot, I mean. It’s getting dark. The laundry is on the line: couch covers, cushions, towels. The place is an empty shell waiting for some new and lucky soul to move in and sleep on the bed we once slept on, cook in the kitchen we once cooked in.

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We’re catching the night bus out of here in 5 hours.

Today was a day. The delivery woman came and took away our bags. The power man came. The gas man came too. I cooked pasta. The gas man came again and said: “NO. Please stop using the gas. I turned it off this morning”. Or was he saying: “I will always love you. Come back to Kyoto and please call me about gas or other concerns.” It could have been either.

Sitting in the hospital again today (a quick unexpected visit – nothing horrid) I thought no, I haven’t gotten any good at understanding what people are saying to me in Japanese. But I am quite a lot better at guessing what’s being said.

The water man came. “Are you done? I’ll turn it off now” I guess he said. I said yes but he could tell it was more like ‘not really’ so he left it on. At lunch time he came again. “Are you done?” he said and I gave another unconvincing yes. The washing machine thud-thudded suspiciously in the dark of the house behind me. Now it’s seven in the evening and the taps are still working. Tomorrow he’ll come again and knock on the door and nobody will come. With relief, he will lift the metal plate and turn the water off. He’ll say: “Oh, they really are gone,” or perhaps, I’m guessing, something like: “Sweet gaijin with your foolish days of water. You were good to this city – come back to us will you? Drink freely from the tap. Float in rivers of the silvery stuff; it comes straight from the cool living pipes beneath this city we’ve both loved. A city one of us has loved and lost.”

But it’s impossible to lose a city, I might say back to him. He’ll gingerly reach out a hand, rest it on my back and say: “Oh, but I am the water man”.

The gas man too, is cruel but fair. I can’t cook here any more and there will be no more mornings waking to the sound of the kids in the kindergarten next door singing good morning, good morning, good morning everyone.

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