Chapter 11:

The Future

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ANNOUNCER- ‘Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Esteemed Nobel Laureates, Ladies and Gentlemen, this year’s Laureates have made groundbreaking discoveries concerning the most mysterious and strange material in physics: dark matter. Dr. Chizuru Takase, you have been awarded the 2031 Nobel Prize in Physics for your outstanding contributions to our understanding of dark matter. It is an honor and a privilege to convey to you, on behalf of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, our warmest congratulations.

The auditorium echoed with claps of appreciation as she went to the stage to receive her prize. Among them a pair of hands clapping the loudest. In that spot was I, feeling so proud that I could burst.

In the crowd in front of the stage whispers could be heard that were like this:

That’s Chizuru Takase, the wife of Akio Takase the world-class painter, right?

Man talk about, successful family. Both her father-in-law and sister-in-law are Nobel laureates too!

And her husband’s paints are already in the museums, even at the Musée d'Orsay. They are the very definition of invincible.

Huh? Invincible? If only they’ve seen me in my old days.

Upon completing her speech and receiving her prize my wife walked down from the stage.

It’s been ten years since then, since that fateful day that I declared my love for Chizuru. After both of us got so embarrassed, it was hard to even look her in the eye. But I remained true to my vow. I didn’t give up no matter what.

I proposed again to her again on the same date next year, on March 1st, the day she changed my life. I gave her the gift I bought for her during the school trip. The blue pendant that looked just like her eyes. And from that day we started going out and got married three years later.

I’m currently living in the U.S. with her, she’s joined dad’s researched lab and is the current co-head scientist. Along with my Sis, these two continue their research on various mysteries of the world.

Dad retired four years ago, but he still goes to the research center from time to time. You can’t help but do things you love, I guess.

As for me, I did exactly what I wanted to do. I married Chizuru and continued to express my emotions through my paintings. I never forgot what I learned that day. And hence kept on living with the new ideals I got.

I’m extra happy today, why won’t I be. Not only has my wife won the biggest prize in her field three days ago, but today we’re going back to Japan to celebrate with everyone. That'll be our first meeting in 10 years. How does time fly? It feels like yesterday that we were bickering amongst ourselves for the highest rank. At this point in our lives, what do those grades we got as kids even mean?

CHIZURU- ‘Look there they are!

She said as she pointed her finger in a direction, from where Nozomi and Tomonaga were coming.

NOZOMI- ‘Chizuru! Akio! Congratulations!

CHIZURU- ‘Thanks a lot!

TOMONAGA- ‘Yeah, Congratulations Yukawa!

NOZOMI- ‘She’s a Takase now, idiot!

TOMONAGA- ‘Oh yeah, right. Congratulations Takase.

Why, thank you.

TOMONAGA- ‘I wasn’t talking to you.

And, nice to meet you too Tomonaga. Oh, and by the way congratulations to you two as well.

CHIZURU- ‘Oh right, congratulations both of you!

NOZOMI- ‘Thanks, you guys.

TOMONAGA- ‘Yeah, thanks Yukawa.

NOZOMI- ‘You forgot again? She’s a Takase now!

TOMONAGA- ‘Damn it, that’s confusing.

CHIZURU- ‘So, what month are you in Nozomi?

NOZOMI- ‘Fourth…

Tomonaga and Nozomi got married as well and now they’re even having a baby. I don’t know the details since I wasn’t around, but apparently seeing my example gave Tomonaga some courage and for once he manned up and asked her out. I don’t know if she agreed on the first attempt but the moral of the story is they ended up together.

I also found out that Nozomi actually belonged to a pretty rich family. They owned a huge pharmaceuticals manufacturer brand, and Nozomi’s goal was to succeed her father. She worked really hard for it and I am glad that she achieved it. As for Tomonaga, his only goal was to go out with Nozomi, so I think it very apparent that he achieved his goal as well. As for what he’s doing. I heard he’s managing the sales of Nozomi’s company.

KENZO- ‘What’s up you glowing couples?

And here comes the missing part of our group.

Hey, bro.

KENZO- ‘Hi Akio and congratulations, Chizuru.

CHIZURU- ‘Thanks a lot Ishiguro.

KENZO- ‘And congratulations to you my dear Nozomi.

TOMONAGA- ‘Hey! I’m standing here too you know.

KENZO- ‘What’s this? You haven’t changed a bit, have you? Still the same hypocrite.

TOMONAGA- ‘What? What are you talking about?

KENZO- ‘What? I’ll have to explain again? You were talking Chizuru while ignoring Akio just now and now you’re mad because I did the same? What is this if not hypocrisy?

I feel déjà vu right here.

TOMONAGA- ‘Why you? This is why I didn’t want to come to this thing.’

NOZOMI- ‘Oh come on, he’s only pulling your leg. Right, Kenzo?

KENZO- ‘Of course, Nozomi, he doesn’t understand because he’s an idiot.

Kenzo is still single, though I’m not surprised considering his personality. But I still think it’d be better for him to settle down now. As for his profession, he’s become a lawyer. I personally think that suits him. I mean he demonstrated his skills just a minute ago right here.

We’ve all grown up now and have come a long way from back then, but glad we’re all still friends. And I’m sure they all feel the same way, and for that reason, we chose this place for our reunion. The place where our group of five came together the first time. Yes, we’re in Kyoto.

NOZOMI- ‘Standing, here again, it feels like yesterday that we were walking on these streets visiting museums writing notes.

CHIZURU- ‘Yeah, it was so much fun.

KENZO- ‘Yeah, I remember me and Nozomi worked our butts out to help this coward in confessing his love for you.

Oh, shut up, in the end, I confessed myself remember.

CHIZURU- ‘Wait, so you were trying to do that from all the way back then?

KENZO- ‘Of course, why do you think we always paired you two together?

NOZOMI- ‘For the research, in the pool, coming back from the park, we tried everything we could.

CHIZURU- ‘Oh, so you were trying to pair us together. I thought it was something else.

TOMONAGA- ‘What did you think it was?

CHIZURU- ‘Hmm… it’s best if you don’t know.

TOMONAGA- ‘Ah… why?

Hey! I have a brilliant idea!

KENZO- ‘I doubt it’d be brilliant coming from you.

Oh, shut up! I’m saying now that we’re here, how about we revisit some of those museums again?

TOMONAGA- ‘You just wanna show off your paintings at those museums, right?

NOZOMI- ‘No, I think it’s a great idea. It’d be like reliving a great memory.

Right? So, what’d you guys say?

KENZO- ‘Sure!


NOZOMI- ‘Let’s go!

After they started moving ahead, Chizuru whispered to me.

Nice save my dear husband.

Anything for you my dear wife.

All of us headed together to revisit the museums we visited as kids back then. Walking in the city like this, it really brings back memories, they all must feel the same way, after all, it’s said that the school trip is one of the fondest memories of school life, I’m certain that’s true for me at least because for me the rest of the school life was a nightmare, I’d even say I didn’t even feel alive at those times.

We visited the Kyoto national museum and took pictures there as a group. It was just as Nozomi said, that school trip was a bitter-sweet ride for me, but all our memories during our research were the good ones, and coming here again felt like reliving those memories.

Back then, the love bitten young man that I was, I kept trying to get close to Chizuru, I could never imagine at that time I would come back here in ten years with her as my wife. What a mystery life is.

At that time, I was scared out of my mind whenever I had to talk to Chizuru, Nozomi and Kenzo tried so hard to help me. I think if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have ever been able to confess to her. I was such a coward back, looking on it now, it surprised me that I actually managed to do it. I remember walking beside her in this place, trying to find any topic to start a conversation, I wouldn’t bother me however pointless it may be, just anything would do. Even though I was like that, it still ended like this, I’m so glad for that.

After Kyoto national museum we went to the Kyoto university museum, the museum we visited on our last research day. And there we found it. The first painting of my artistic carrier.

KENZO- ‘TRUE false by Akio Takase. That’s your first painting, right?


NOZOMI- ‘Hey isn’t this the same painting you made on the first day of school?

No! it’s a little different, it’s version 2.

KENZO- ‘Version 2?

CHIZURU- ‘This one represents how it should be, how it should’ve been from the start, and how it became at the time he painted it.

NOZOMI- ‘How what should be?

My life.

KENZO- ‘What?

That’s right. It’s different from the one I painted in the classroom. The boy on the boat isn’t oblivious of the world anymore, of the people anymore. He doesn’t stay lost on the wrong side but seek aid from the right side, he seeks to go that side. And the people on the right side also notice him, not all of them but a select few, a select few that makes all the difference. The Truth is on the upside hence the ‘TRUE’ in the upper case and the false in on the lower side hence the ‘false’ in the lower case.

The painting that I made that day helped Chizuru understand me and thus changed my fate. That painting is probably collecting dust somewhere in the building of St. Stephen’s high school, the five of us might visit the school after this too. But since that painting played such a role in my life, I wanted to give it the respect it deserved. Of course, it’s not the same, but this painting packs the message, the completion of my story. It’s still the same, a little bit good a little bit bad, a little ‘true’ and a little ‘false’ but that’s just how the world is. Nothing is perfect and never can be. But I’m still glad that a part of this imperfect world. I’m glad that I’m alive.

It’s only natural that I’d feel this way, if I wasn’t alive how would get all this happiness. If I wasn’t alive, I wouldn’t have married Chizuru. I wouldn’t have seen her get her Nobel prize, I wouldn’t have become a successful person in life.

If only given a second chance there can be so many opportunities in life. Of course, there are dark times but they always come to an end eventually. But that darkness can be pretty overwhelming like it was for me. At the time I couldn’t see any hope of light, it seemed like there was no end to it, like my option was to end myself.

It’s funny, after overcoming it, everything I felt back then feels stupid and unimportant, but back then it felt like such a burden like it was crushing me. At the time, just living felt suffocating, each second felt like endless suffering, but now I understand how important that life is, and not just for me. My life affects the lives of many people. If I had died how many would blame themselves for it? How many would suffer because of it? How many lives would’ve been ruined? I can’t imagine, I don’t want to imagine. Where do these thoughts go when we’re in that moment? Why don’t they occur to us right before the leap? The human mind is a strange thing. It believes what it wants to believe regardless of what anyone else says, everyone sticks to their ideals no matter what others say. But unless we open our minds to different ideas, unless we are flexible in times, we could never grow as a person, we could never learn. I learned it the hard way, but I hope no one else has to.

It’s not like every day has been all sunshine for me since then, that’s not how life works. I’ve had my rough days when I couldn’t think or I couldn’t get a painting right, but that’s just life, it’s ever-changing just like us. One nice day means the other could be bad, but it also means the bad day will go away eventually as well.

What we need is a positive attitude, to face our problems head-on. If we keep our heads high and don’t give up, there isn’t any problem that we can’t overcome.

Just blaming yourself and other people around you doesn’t solve anything. To find a solution you have to work, you have to look for it, you need to explore yourself and the world around you, just keep moving forward and don’t give up. Get out of your room and see the world, it’s so big, if you look hard enough, there isn’t any problem whose solution you can’t find. I found mine.

My name is Akio Takase, I’m a world renounced artist, and my father, my sister, and my wife are all Nobel laureates. But more than anything, we’re all what we wanted to be, we’re a happy family, we’re alive and we’re happy.