A Place of Our Own
The last couple of weeks escaped right through me, there were not enough hours in the day to explore the shops, travel through the unknown streets, and wander aimlessly in the parks around the city. It was bliss for me to see the life I rarely contemplated back home, due to my limited Japanese speaking skills all the conversations I heard from the people around intrigued me. I wanted to join in; chat about all the insignificant nothings that come from our daily lives- the new movie that came out, the delicious chocolate cake from the bakery across the street, the minor difficulties of work. Before it was all clutter that I never paid any attention to, but being in a country where my language skills limited what I was capable of saying and expressing made me appreciate all the nothings my mother and I had shared before departing.
On one to many occasions I found myself drifting off to the memories of us. Each place I ate at I imagined her there sitting with me. There she was eating the same food and drinking the same coffee with me, and yet only air and an empty seat stared back and I was reminded of the loneliness each time I called my mother to share my experiences. It wasn’t a loneliness that stems from lack of connection, where one feels inadequate and lacking, but a loneliness that permeates the life of all individuals. It goes unnoticed until we find silence and the time to see ourselves for what we truly are. In my heart a misty fog seemed to permeate, but it was comforting to know that I could look at myself. My coffee was growing colder and the flavor turning stale and so I quickly sipped and finished eating the leftovers on the plate. I pushed the glass doors and walked out into the blazing sun. Not until evening came would the heat settle down and the sweat that glued my clothes to my skin would evaporate off my pores. The overbearing humidity was not enough to extinguish the curiosity and excitement I felt over the last couple of days I had left before my teaching began. I knew that the blissful freedom of no responsibility would soon end just like the summer break; I was looking forward to all that came. As I walked engulfed by own silent conversation, and aimlessly glided among the waves of walking people, I entered an area of the street full of books stores, used and new alike all huddled together as if stemming from one single source. I entered a bookstore that from the outside looked to be overstuffed with books. There were bookcases taller than me on each corner of the entrance, and wire stands all around with books of colored pages-a rainbow of white and yellow. There was no door, it was one of those shops where at closing time, which was at 9PM, a large metal folded door would be pulled down and locked at the end where the door and the floor meet. As I passed the shelves stacked with books and tables layered with novels and comics I came to a section where everything was familiar. I was in my university library scanning authors in alphabetical order under classical poetry. It was my minor; poetry was the enchantment which I never mastered. It was a passion that I had no knack for taking up.
There was a slight touch in the shoulder, interrupting my thoughts, he stood right next to me unaware of my staring. His black head was bent down as he scanned the novels on the table in front of us. Standing this close was not embarrassing after all this bookstore, overrun with literature barely had any standing space for any of the customers. As I turned all around the different shelves people were pressed close, shoulders touching as if we were all riding the morning train to work and school. Each head enraptured in a different world far away from the body that held it up and this man next to me was no different. We stayed liked that for a couple of minutes, he opened a book and began reading and not finding anything new I slowly made my way behind him and towards the exit when I came to an abrupt halt, he wasn’t just reading a book, it was a book in English. If he could read there was a possibility that he could also converse with me in English; it had been too long since I could properly talk to someone without any language barriers and maybe now was my chance to change that. I wanted to break the silence that followed me everywhere I went for even the liveliest of places isolated me from the people who lived here.
I felt my blood rushing through me, I could hear my own heart thumping in anticipation for what was to come. I pressed the tips of my fingers to the palm of my right hand and walked steadily towards the man who had interrupted my daydream just moments ago. I was about to do the same to him.
I stood on his left this time and picked up a novel that was across from me, I felt a shift in his shoulder.