dedalus Posted October 27, 2014 Share Posted October 27, 2014 Matsuri, festival, matsuri! Sipping sake by the side of the road, 25-30 years ago, with a Japanese friend, who is earnestly teaching me rude words such as Ba-ka (horse, deer), meaning Fool, and all this long ago but just as yesterday, with a gritty sluggish taste in our cups, and the long grasses waving in the breeze, when a passing platoon of smiling young men greet us and gather us in, and take us to a rundown wooden bar with more sake and laughter, dried horsemeat, octopus, squid. I was happy then, I’ve been happy since, but this is one day I remember. I live in a world of distant beginnings, with sunlight at night and the stars at noon: one long evening ago in Lisdoonvarna, the wedding capital of a rather desperate rural Ireland, I was facing an array of new-drawn pints, a custom of ours before closing time, when an elvish old man sat in the next seat, with the long pointed ears of his kind, and the grey yellow-flecked eyes. Young man, he said, you remind me of a fellow I once knew well, who threw all things over, and went to live in Japan. He was marvellously happy with his Japanese wife and children, with his garden of bonsai and his flowers a sea of colour, stone lanterns and an arched curving bridge over a stream full of carp and trout and sundry other fish, in which he and the children went fishing, among jokes and happy peals of laughter, to make a catch for Sunday lunch. He was imprisoned during the War and died, I think, of a broken heart. He was Irish, of course, and Ireland was neutral, but the Japanese were vague on such details, as was everyone, really, with the bombs and the rockets raining down. Why are you telling me this, Iasked him. Because I think you should go and live in Japan, as you seem to be the type, but not, of course, under threat of war. I ignored the old fellow, naturally, but strangely now I live in Japan, with my Japanese wife and daughter, and my garden is full of flowers, and I have a pond well-stocked with sundry fish over which runs a curved stone bridge, and if my hopes are bent on restoring health, there is a great learning value in sickness, both mental and physical. I remember the advice of an older man, regrettably not my father, but a sergeant-major in the Irish Army: accept whatever burden may be laid upon you, fashion as good a life as you are able, son, and remember, harsh reality trumps false hope. Sententious old bollix, really. I can't go on. I'll go on. Quote Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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