- Pages from my diary
We met once already. At TGIF in Yokohama. At night. I remember looking around the crowded train station. Guessing who she might be amongst the sea of people. A randomness about to become a certainty. We were texting back and forth. She said “meet at the east exit.” I walked towards the escalator at the east exit sizing up the ladies and considering possibilities. I typed “I am here”. She said “you wear brown shirt?” I said yes.
She was the petit dame in beret leaning against a pillar behind me. Now she is carved out and real to my consciousness. No longer a stream of transient electrons forming letters on my screen.
She wore a blue jean, white top, an Amy green jacket and beret.
I didn’t know if to hug or shake her. We didn’t talk for long on the language exchange platform before we agreed to meet. There was an awkwardness as we exchanged pleasantries. The tentative tendencies in familiar strangers. we walked towards the restaurant together. It was a cold night.
Despite our lean vocabularies; my Japanese and her English, we were able to talk and laugh. it required using google translate more than a few times plus a lot of wine.
She works in a clothing store. She wants to learn English because of her interactions with foreign customers. She likes to dance and coach high school cheer leaders.
We kept in touch afterwards. in snatches but I didn’t feel the urge to see her again.
Last week she sent me a text. “I quit my job today” it said. “Oh wow!” I replied.
I didn’t ask for more details. One do not make such decisions lightly.
The next time we met it was at my station. She took a three hour train ride from Tokyo. I saw her from a distance. The traffic light was red so I stood at the edge of the road and watched her walk towards me. I do not know why I thought she was petite the first time. Her cheeks were rounder than I remembered and there was a far away look in her eyes. She wore a tan pant and a. red T-shirt with a black inscription that says “I am HUGE in Japan”. the light turned green. I crossed. This time We hugged.
I took her to a place I frequent. An underground Japanese restaurant. It was crowded, busy and noisy.
The drinks came faster than the food. I noticed the strain in her mood. She kept looking at the menu after the waiter took our orders and left.
“Why did you quit your job?” I asked
“I tired” she said. “Quarrel quarrel. Everyday quarrel. Customers quarrel with staff. Staff quarrel with staff. Everyday my boss ask me what happen What happen. I don’t know what happen. Am I supervisor? If he want know what happen pay me more money. I told him my boss”
I laughed at her sudden outburst. Following the logic in her point. She smiled and her eyes lit up a bit. But the distance quickly crept back in.
“Tired everything” she said. “I fight with my mum. I don’t. tell her I quit my job”
“Oh wow!” I said “What happened?”
“Cannot explain” she replied.
I nodded thinking about the amount of effort it would take to relate the whole incident in English. I understand why she dosent want to try though she wants to.
The food was taking too long. I already drank four cups of strawberry Chu hi with too much ice cubes. An hour and half and only the salad came. I was pissed. I asked for the. cheque. At the register, we were charged for food we didn’t eat. i paid. The receipt has Japanese inscription so Only the numbers made sense to me. She stopped me as I was about to trash it and spotted the error. The cashier apologized, adjusted the price and gave her a rose flower.
We went to the family mart. I bought more cans of Chu hi. She bought something that looks like potato chips and a toothbrush.
“It is good that your house is near the station” she said as we rode the elevator. I did not lock my door when I left. I swung it open and the muffled sound of CNN wafted from the living room.
“This is America” I said “you don’t need to take off your shoes.”
She took it off anyway and walked with black socked feet to the living room.
We sat close on the sofa. I opened a can of Chu hi and chugged it. She mindlessly switched the tv station with the remote. I leaned forward to kiss her. Her hair got in the way and sandwiched our lips as they met. It felt coarse. I leaned back. we both smiled. I parted her hair from her forehead and tried again. No much luck. She made no attempt to help me but she responded when our lips touched. I gave up after a few more tries. She rested her head on my shoulders and I let it lie there.
I was lost in thoughts when I felt something moist and warm around my chest. I turned and saw she was crying.
“It is ok Natsu” I said to her “Its ok to cry”. The tears came out in torrents. Silently. Except for the constant sniffing and heaving.
She was shaking her head. “I help my friend”. She said within sobs. “My mom hates me because I help my friend.”
I got up to get. a roll of tissue. she blew her nose. I sat back down and drew her head to my shoulder. The tears kept coming.
“All this time I work. I save my money. But I help my friend because my friend needs help.” She stopped and began to shake her head. sobbing loudly now.
She typed something on her phone. Google translated it as abort.
Now she looked up at me with very moist eyes. “So did I kill her baby?”
“No. no” I said without thinking. “All you did is help your friend. That was your end game. And that is all you should think of.”
“My mum said I killed her baby. I don’t have money. I tell my mummy. help me. I tell her I help my friend reason why no money. My mummy said I killed my friend’s baby and would not help me.” She started crying anew. I kept rubbing her shoulders. Now she was gesticulating with her hands. “Me and my friend. We have ordinary relationship. My mummy and I we have family relationship. I helped my friend” she points her hands to her chest. now “and my mummy cannot help me?” the tears keeps coming. I keep rubbing her shoulders.
I didn’t know who slept first. but we both did. I said “lets go inside.”
“Do you want to take a shower?” She said no.
That was the seal. Nothing for me tonight. Most Japanese won’t have sex unless they take a shower. Sometimes. they make you take a shower too.
I gave her cloths to change. I stepped out while she did. When I got back she was on the bed. I got in with her. We kissed. She let me touch her breast but nowhere else. “Yada, yada” she said in mild protest when my hands traveled farther. I was tired. I rolled to the other side and soon fell asleep.
The sun rose early. I was up. My head a little groggy from yesternight Chu hi.
She was asleep. deeply. Nestled in covers. her face was relaxed now. She looked older without the make up. I remember she was a few years older than I was. I began preparing for work. Tip toeing not to wake her. contemplating if to leave her and let her wake and leave when she feels like. It would mean leaving the door unlocked. My girlfriend would come visiting when she gets off work. It is important she leaves way before and more important that I get home before she does. I. began to wish natsu didn’t come.
I was ready for work. She was still sleeping. In the bathroom, I decided to let her stay. Well I kind of did before that by not waking her up earlier. Wanting her to leave now would mean me having to wait while she got ready.
“I am leaving for work now”. I said. “just close the door it doesn’t. need to be locked. Let me know when you are leaving.” Thank you she said. she stretched her phone. to me and said “need charge.” i plugged her phone. i reached out and shook her hands. “Do you have money?” I asked pulling out my wallet and counting yens. She wriggled her hands and shook her head strongly. “No no no” she said. “I am fine.” I said ok.
She thanked me again and I left.
At work I was restless. I kept checking my phone for her. message wondering When she is going to leave. Around 10 am she sent a message “your house is cold I cannot take away the blanket.”
“The blanket would keep you warm” I said.
“May I sleep a little more?” She asked.
Damnit! I thought. What you need is too get off your ass and leave.
But I typed “yes you can. Please take your time. Let me know when you are leaving”
At past 11am. She said “very long time to charge”
I said “put it in airplane mode. It charges faster.” I was getting irritated. She said OK.
Around 1.30pm I read with relive “I just leave now. Sorry stayed too long”
I said “it’s no problem. I hope you rested well. Thank you for coming and I hope to see you again soon.” I felt like a hypocrite.
I was glad that she left right on time. I was also glad that I didn’t have to force her to leave earlier than she wanted to. I know she doesn’t want to go back home and was seeking to pass time.
She said “I have funny movie.” And sent a twenty six seconds video of me snoring heavily. I laughed. slightly embarrassed. “ I couldn’t sleep” she said.
“ I am sorry I made so much noise. yesterday” I said.
“Haha It’s no problem.” She typed.
As soon as I got home I was a forensic detective Bent on erasing. all. evidence of her presence. I Started from the door. Made my way to the room. She had my cloths (The one she. changed. into) neatly folded on the bed As well as the blanket. I searched the toilet, bathroom, and sink. Nothing out of place. No strands of strange hairs no vestiges of make up. I looked in the trash can, ahah!! There it was. A sanitary towel And the potato chips wrapper. I bagged The whole trash and threw it out. In the living room, there was the flower in a bottle Half filled with water by the TV. It felt like an unspoken message and I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. I knew. the flower would fade and die. But I carried it near the window and hoped it receives a just a little more sunlight.
Photo by Olateru Bobolawal