Chapter One: Nine, the forlorn lass.
After all those years, finally I'm here.
Akihabara, Tokyo Japan.
I came here in Japan for a simple reason, yes, but this childlike reason is a precise significance for me. I love the country so much as I love myself. Others may premise that I am obsessed about anything and everything about Japan. It might be I'm abnormally in love with the country itself, but who cares anyway? I have spent my entire twenty-one years living with my family's expectations. Always faking a lovely-sympathetic smile, a showy person who didn't want to be pitied at, always pretending for someone who wasn't me at all. It disgusts me. I disgust myself at those times, regrettably.
Now, whoever tells me that I can't have my own decision? I am finally on my own. It's time for me to live a life in accordance to my personal choice, and will. I want to explore the country I admire the most.
Japan. Its traditions, cultures, people, beliefs, music, arts and everything. And I want to experience how it feels like to live in a different environment, how Japanese people live like. Perhaps, they are right. I'm becoming obsessive.
It's the end of winter, and my first day in Japan is a welcoming spring season. Right after I depart from the Narita Airport, I went straight to the hotel I booked in, and then I astonishingly explore the whole new world. Not a single second I'm going to waste. I don't care even if I look so exhausted.
No one will care if I die in exhaustion, probably.
My exploration leads me here, the tourist guide said this is one of the places I can truly relax and purify, Kanda Shrine. Indeed, it is. The architectures are very impressive. At last I've seen with my own eyes a real shrine priest and priestess, and I learn some of their traditional rituals and how it seriously means to them. And as I have expected, a lot of sakura trees are standing attractively on the corners. They are blossoming prettily.
I took several pictures though mostly they were cherry blossoms, and right now right here, I am just a mere tourist who simply loves the landscape and scenery. I've never felt as happy like this ever since, well, in fact, I was never been happy. I was been a happy person once, twice, and many times. And I took a lot of effort just to regain my liveliness but it occurs to me that, at the end, I'll end up in despair. Completely ruined and worthless.
It appears to me that, people surrounds me are a complete set of aliens, even in my own country and home. I am a stranger to them, as well. So to say, they are nothing to me just as how much I am nothing to them. That makes us—even.
When I turned eighteen, I started to dislike people even when they had done nothing wrong to me. I become easily irritated around crowded people, and I hated their prejudice stares, I despise their innocent and caring talks though in reality they are just laughing at you inside. I feel so ill and sick around pretentious individuals, but it can't be help, so in the end, I am the one who detaches me away from them.
I refuse to stare at those eyes, they creep me so terribly. I thought that, I need to put a barrier, a wall and need to distance myself from them, or else, I'll end up pitying me. And simply because, to be frankly speaking, I am tired of putting my trust to someone who can't sincerely treasure it.
I hate crowds. But look where I am now—a complete stranger to a complete crowded country. I do not hate the country, nor the things or anything else, it's because I love them and their culture. However, I dislike their empty stares, their stabbing eyes, as if they're going to eat me up. Just like the old times, I hate everybody who doesn't even do anything wrong to me.
Funny but, I am a 'nobody' who can't trust anybody.
My recollection seems to have gone farther to nowhere, and I never realize I am staring for a longer at a sakura tree in front of me. It may be that, the tree resembles something to me in my past, though this is my first time seeing it, and I may concede that it's not quite a worth to remember neither even think. Stupidly, I never notice that something that's cloudy and moist are starting to coat under my eyes, the worse and disgusting matter I never wanted to create. I hate tears. And crying.
Perhaps, they are supposed to be there because I must celebrate that I'm here, tears of joy, they say. Ironically, they are not tears and I am absolutely not in the state of crying, I never cry. To cry is such a foolish thing I would ever do. I'd promised to jump over the tallest Tokyo building if I ever cry.
Crying is for weaklings. Tears are for stupid and for someone who makes themselves one by becoming a slave of someone, enslave by the past and a coward of unwanted fears.
I blink hurriedly and laugh at myself, not considering that they are some people who passes by. I just wanted to laugh. Why? Why is the question I doubt I could answer precisely, I know I'm happy and I feel lucky that I'm now stepping on the land I ever dream of, but why?
Why do I still feel so incomplete?
Why is that I am unsatisfied? A little more of this and I bet I would come to believe that I am a person who couldn't have satisfaction in her life. When can you say, that a person is satisfied? I definitely cannot determine at all, my feelings are becoming numb as the time passes by—which is, I find so stupid.
I'm numb. I'm numb in a sense that I never notice the sudden movements beside me, and I thought for once someone's staring at me. I feel weird, as if an elf is stabbing his cold stare at me, which is in fact, as I turn my gaze on my left, a small and pallid figure appears at my very own eyes.
A fragile boy of about nine years of his age came nearer to me. He is half of my height, well, not tall either for I measure five three. His raven hair is tousled and his bangs partly cover his left eye, but I can clearly see his arising confusion and at the same time—concern on his eyes. Concern? Ah, I never thought that I know a word such as. I even doubt if I know what it means.
He stood firmly and his hands both on his sides, just then he asks,
"Daijobu-ka, ne, Oneesan?" it may be that his question suddenly strikes me, I just stare at him and found myself mute. Strangely but, I think his eye color is somewhat a blend of emerald green and brown, not a pure hazel but there's still something more. It may be a reflection but, I think a color of something lighter than blue is mixed on his greenish-brown eyes. I know he's a Jap but this is the first time I've ever met someone who possesses such strange eye color. Strange? I am strange in a major way, too.
Perhaps because he figures out that I'm not Japanese, that's why he asks again in a different tone, and in a different language I myself know for certain, an international language that is design for everyone on earth,
"Are you alright, Big Sister?"
It may be that he thought I didn't understand what he's saying, that's why he translated it in English, although I know what he had said. I just don't know how to answer such a question coming from a kid. I speak Nihongo, of course, only the basics though.
It took me for a moment before I regained back myself. I was just surprised as to how politely this child asked. At that very moment, I was wondering why he asked such a thing.
Can he read my mind? I premise but shake my head lightly afterward, knowing that I'm thinking too far.
"Yes," I pour a smile that everyone loves to see, a smile that I put into effect, a false one. I never waited for a rebound response from the kid, and just like what I always do, turn my face and focuses back at the cherry blossoms. As if no one's around.
I sigh a relief when the kid run off, well, what more can I expect? Even kids nowadays are scared of me, if not scared, then he might found me solely boring. Why would I care anyway, it's something that is usual to me, so, he is just one of those people who draw their assumptions against me. I hate those kind the most.
'Are you alright?' it's the stupidest question aimed at me, however, it's the nicest one among those stupid words. I can't help but smile, a little with bliss—for the very first time. After all, he is a kid.
Just when I have decided to leave, I almost jerk in surprise when a wooden stool landed heavily on at my front, almost blocking my way. I was shock as I look down straightly and found the small kid, who had questioned me out of the blue a while ago, and who is now smirking at me while gripping the stool.
I just couldn't utter a word, and couldn't utter again as I widen my eyes when he suddenly jumps and is stepping up over the stool. Now he's matching up my height.
'Okay, what's he up to this time? A superman wannabe?'
'And where in the world did he get that stool?'
That thought almost make me chuckle, well, he reminds me of my little brother. I raise my left brow and cross my arms, and with a fancy tone, I said, "Are you stalking me, little boy?"
That question supposedly must have an answer, but what I get instead, was a surprising and a shocking question from him.
"Have you ever been in love, Oneesan?" his tone is kind of, unfathomable. But a sincere emotion filled his young voice and his eyes, his eyes are sending me unnerving emotional state. His rash question undeniably shocked me, surprised me to my most extent. How a child, such as him, could ask such a thing? A complete stranger, I may add?
That question, stupefies me, I couldn't find my vocal chords to answer. How shall I answer, anyway? It's a question that I never thought once will aim at me, a question that I never wanted to hear, ever. It's disgusting and stupid, it's the root of all of my despair and hatreds. It's forbidden to me. It disgusts me.
And it is a child who's asking me. A nine-year-old boy.
I flinched when he repeated the question, and even though he frustrates me I decided to answer him, and get over it. "Yes," I say, and my voice seems to be unnatural, perhaps my hesitations travel through my vocal chords. I can't even imagine why I'm answering him when supposedly, there is no reason at all.
I don't answer stupid questions, and more precisely, I dislike talking to strangers. However, as I look into his blended eyes, I find something aberrant and it kind of—hypnotized me. During my early years, I never met someone who has a pure intent on their eyes. I don't know if I'm right, and perhaps I'm wrong to say this but, is that what they call 'worry'—that flushes on his eyes?
Stupid I know. Why would a stranger take concerns on a complete stranger, he doesn't even know me.
"Are you alone?" I ask instead, this boy is a typical type of person who I categorized as 'weird'. His parents should have taken care of him more properly, they should have not let the boy roam around by himself.
"No," he answers, and I find myself feels a bit comfortable about that. At least he has a companion, well, I almost thought that he's a stray kid, or else an orphan who had escaped from the sadist orphanage.
"You were almost crying, why did you stop your tears from falling, Oneesan?" he's a blunt one, isn't he?
Yeah, he got me. I really wanted to laugh, at least now I have a reason as to why I should. This boy is peculiar, and well, he saw me in that state? I pour out a timid laugh and say, "You brat, you seem to have a lot of weird imaginations, aren't you? Where are your parents?"
"Sometimes, it's okay to cry." He added, is he ignoring my own question? He has no respect to elders, has he? Ah, he makes me frustrated. I am starting to hate this kid, he's annoying, sort of. He doesn't even have the slightest idea what's on my mind, how could he say such a thing, he surely has a mature mind at his age.
"Uh, really." I utter irksomely. I comb my hair and tuck some of strands into my left ear, just then I lean closer to his face and narrow my eyes, "A kid like you shall not mingle with adults. You don't even know that crying is such a foolish thing to act, tears are for stupid fools."
"How shall I take that?" he stares back at me, his are filled of unexplainable emotions. Unexplainable in a sense that, I don't know what kind of emotions they were, and besides from loneliness, pain, and hatred I know nothing more. I was flabbergasted for a while. And come to think of it, he has a very pale skin, paler than I've first thought. I can see the thin veins under his eyes.
Hey, he is a smart kid, I can tell. His English is fluent and he talks straightly, it looks like he's literate at speech. I learn that there are only few Japanese who can speak fluent in English, and this kid is amazing that he's actually one of them.
"That's an advice from a big sister, ne. Now, you must get down and nuzzle your nose at your mother's skirt."
"I don't have a mother," his answer stunned me, and he said it with a very downhearted tone, although he was trying to hide it. I may conclude that, his mother already had passed away.
"Sorry," I utter with a sense of condoles.
"You don't have to," he smiles, and I know for certain that, that smile is familiar to me, so usual. It's the smile that I myself know how to put into act, the smile that I learnt ever since I was a child.
"Big sister, can I ask you something?" well, he is asking now, is he not? I just nod in agreement. Just then he leans forward, so near to me that I almost thought he's going to stumble down from the stool, his eyes are lock to mine, as if he's scrutinizing my very personality through my eyes. It kind of, irritates me.
'What is he seeing?'
"I can see it clearly in your eyes," he says, "your eyes shows honesty oppositely from what comes on your mouth,"
"I can clearly determine, as well, that is not a question." I say, he pisses me off. I don't understand why I am talking with this kid for a longer. I should have had cut it off earlier.
He smirks and why is he doing that? And I almost merely forgot, 'why' is a question that I cannot precisely answer. It was that moment of truth when the kid spelled out his question,
"Did someone ever love you, Oneesan?" his question…jerked me in surprise.
I know my eyes widen, my hands are shaking involuntarily besides me, and a sudden jolt strikes through—abruptly tormenting and stirring my emotions inside. The numbness that wraps around my stony heart, the shell that covers my heart is slowly peeling off, and for once again, the unwanted emotions arise within me. Revealing my isolated feelings. Disclosing the unwanted emotions I myself decided to hid, the feelings that I wanted to delete entirely.
I thought I am numb.
I am supposed to be numb regards with anything that someone's telling me.
However, this child, a boy is making me to feel such unwanted emotions again. He's unforgivable. Intolerable. How could he ask such a thing? Now my emotions are rumbling, horribly stirring inside, I feel so sick. I feel so ill. I wanted to vomit off my memories.
Nonetheless, how am I suppose to lie, is it something I shall do? This kid is just a nobody, and I find no reason or obligations to answer him. I find my hands clenching and I turn down my eyes, not looking at him as I answer, "No."
Can I even believe that? Can I even hear myself as I said that? No. I don't understand why I am answering a stupid question with a stupid answer, it's disgusting to my ears, and it's a sting to my tongue. Why? Why is again the question I precisely cannot answer.
Perhaps I did actually answer his stupid question because partly perhaps I can't believe he's asking such a question. Whatever it may be, it's getting on my nerves.
I was caught between my swirling thoughts as a small hand cupped my chin, guiding me to look at the owner's pallid face, his eyes with full of unexplainable expressions caught mine. This is something stupid. The kid is precisely weird. And what's with that on his face? Silly, now he's becoming to look so serious and genuine which I find so pathetic. No one has ever looked at me like that.
"Then Oneesan," he says, eyes still lock into mine, how am I suppose to stare back? "Can you please wait for me?" I am pathetic, his voice and looks seem to be like of a grown up man in my perspective, which is really, really pathetic. And what did he say?
"Can you please wait for me Oneesan, I'll marry you when I grow up." He said earnestly, as if he had read my mind. And w-what? M-marry me?
I was speechless.
Marry me, he say? What kind of inanity was that?
Is he playing games with me? How can he seriously make a fool out of me. I was almost going to burst in annoyance but instead, I laugh horribly. So loud that it almost choked me in. I freed my chin from his small hand, and I found myself laughing hilariously. This kid is funny, is he not?
"W-what? Y-you are not supposed to laugh," his voice is shaking, good for him. I just look straight at him laughingly, and when I found his serious face I decided to put my hysterical laugh to its end.
"It has been a long time since I laugh like this. You've done a good try Mr. Little." I said, and when he pouts I thought I was going to laugh again but had managed to control it.
"I mean it," he says, his tone is really meaning it and his eyes are filled with enthusiasms. I stunned from where I was standing and my cheeks seem to warm a little, I know a tinge of red is flushing on my cheeks—and it's stupid. Stupid in a sense that I am acting and feeling weird, as if I was star-struck, what more, it's a boy of about nine years old who had done this to me. A record.
I was merely shocked. How am I supposed to take it? I know he's serious and sincere when he said that, after all these years I know how to determine false intentions from not, and he's the first one who talks like he's meaning it.
A wind suddenly blows from the west and the cherry blossoms' started to fall down on our heads. I saw his tousled hair dancing with the wind. And I felt so relieved and relaxed as I stared straight at him, he was smiling at me. And it was the kind of smile that was never aimed at me ever since before, it's a smile that I am ashamed to receive. A smile filled with love and honesty. This time his smile was different from the first. Who is this boy?
I was surprised and couldn't utter a word. Strange but, my heart seems pumping so fast and I know for certain that, I feel…refresh. No, it's something more than that.
Ne, when can you say that you're feeling satisfied?
"Hitori-sama!" an upset voice startled us, and just then I realized it was an old man who's standing not a few distances from us. He is about on his fifties, and he is wearing a black suit with a pair of white gloves, he has glasses too. I presume he is a butler. Or somewhat like that.
When the boy jumps out from the stool, I finally understand who that man is calling, it was he. And his name is Hitori.
"It's time to leave," the old man said at him, and I just stood there speechlessly. No matter how I calculate it, it still confuses me. The boy looks almost ragged and his hair even needs to be comb, yet now someone is addressing him –sama, and it appears to be the man is his butler. Whatever. It doesn't matter to me. No one matters to me from the start.
I flinch when the kid looks back at me, and he smiles before he said, "We'll meet again, Oneesan. Jah ne."
I just sighed. And then I smiled back at him, after all, he's just a kid. I wave a hand at him and says, "Take care of yourself. And try not to confuse the adults, ne?" He doesn't need to take it seriously anyway.
That boy who has confessed bluntly at me, together with the old man who happens to be a butler, just then slowly disappear from my sight. I don't know why but somehow, I feel remorse when I did not answer him seriously.
At that time when he said he meant it, I thought I was going to answer, 'I'll wait you, then.'
In fact, I almost said it to him. That's what I wanted to answer him, partly because I know he's just a kid and was not serious about it, and partly because I know we won't meet again. He did not even ask for my name. For what, anyway. Seriously, I'm becoming pathetic.
'We'll meet again, Oneesan.'
The truth is, we won't meet again. But for sure, I won't ever forget his name. Hitori.
My first day in Japan was, I may concede that, one of the unforgettable moment in my boring life.