Chapter 32:

Osaka: Chapter 27

The Kimochi Warui Diary

The room was in an uproar of laughter. Everyone wanted to get their dirty hands on my clean, pretty magazine.Bookmark here

Tomoyo, especially, wanted to see what she could infer from it:Bookmark here

“Really? So he likes these kinds of things after all, huh? Wait, do girls really do this…? No way!!”Bookmark here

I grasped for my belongings, but my hands were slapped away by greedy claws. Bookmark here

There was nothing I could do but take the full brunt of humiliation head-on. Eventually, my shame limiter broke. All I could do was sit and patiently wait for my treasured items to be returned. Once they finished, my journal and magazine were left strewn across the table. Bookmark here

The journal was already bent and folded from my own use—I take much comfort in a journal that is used and abused. Bookmark here

But for the magazine, that was different. Its corners were bent, and a large crease defaced the front cover. One of the corners even had a slight tear. Bookmark here

At first, I had seen my naughty souvenir as a lurid memento—one that displayed “sex” and “nudity” as motifs in a greater cultural context. Now, in this state, it looked more like the dirty semen-rag it was meant to be. Even the brand new one given to me by the 7-Eleven girl looked questionable.Bookmark here

The humiliation sobered me up completely. Self-hatred and regret began to surface, like the delayed onset of pain after the adrenaline rush wears off.Bookmark here

But I probably deserved it. Not only did I mock Jotaro in the sushi bar, I also harassed that sushi waitress. And what the hell was I even thinking while buying that porno mag? I’d already forgotten what nonsense was going through my mind when I bought it.Bookmark here

I tried coping by writing out thoughts in my journal, but I could hardly form coherent sentences with my trembling hand.Bookmark here

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Tomoyo came back into the room a few minutes later.Bookmark here

“You still looking at your magazine?” she said. She rarely said anything without a sneer.Bookmark here

“Just about,” I said. I kept my eyes on my journal, pretending to be busy with writing.Bookmark here

She was silent for a moment and asked, “Tell me for real, what’s in your journal that’s so important?”Bookmark here

Why bother creating a lie to protect myself at this point? I handed it over to her, invited her to take a look. She opened to the front pages and pored over the writings, deliberately taking her time to inspect each page.Bookmark here

“I can’t read any of this!” She finally said. “It looks like scribbles!”Bookmark here

“That’s actually something I started doing on purpose,” I said. “I wanted to learn to write just messy enough so that no one but me could read it. It’s like… Have you ever read The Romaji Diary?” Bookmark here

“No, I don’t think so…”Bookmark here

“Ok. I forgot the author’s name, but he’s Japanese. The author travelled to the West, and while there, he began writing a confessional diary. He included the worst and most shameful details about himself. But at the same time, he tried to hide it—he used romaji instead of writing in proper Japanese. Non-Japanese would have no chance of reading it that way, and even if he did come across other Japanese who might get their hands on it, it was rare for any of them to understand how to read the English alphabet enough to read the romaji. It was the perfect way for him to write with complete honesty without any fear of repercussion.”Bookmark here

“You know a lot about Japanese stuff, don’t you?”Bookmark here

“Not really. I only know what I’ve read. And my Japanese is terrible.”Bookmark here

Tomoyo laughed, but this time I didn’t feel like she was laughing at me. Bookmark here

Then she said, “Okay, I’ll help you. I’ll write your name in kanji. That way you can finally be Japanese!” She burst out laughing. Bookmark here

“You can’t write Western names in Kanji,” I told her. Bookmark here

“Yes you can, I’ll show you.” Bookmark here

She took a page of my notebook and my pen. Then she started writing kanji that shared syllables with the romaji spelling of my name. When there was more than one kanji for the same syllable, she would purposely choose the least-fitting one—whatever made her laugh more.Bookmark here

What she came up with was a complete mess of kanji:Bookmark here

茶度第美栖Bookmark here

She laughed at her creation. “See! It’s totally your name!” Then she sounded out each syllable to prove it. Bookmark here

“Here,” she said. “I’ll even show you how to spell my name.” Bookmark here

She wrote 知代 next to my name. I picked up my pen and copied her name into my notebook.Bookmark here

“Hey, what the… You’re actually using the right stroke order and everything. You write it better than I do!”Bookmark here

“Well,” I said. “I do write a lot slower for practice, so naturally it might appear better...”Bookmark here

“Hey, I know,” she said. “Let me give you a cool kanji tattoo.” Bookmark here

She took my pen back and grabbed my arm. Bookmark here

“I’ll give you the kanji for ‘samurai.’ That’ll be so cool, wow.” She laughed at her own sarcasm again.Bookmark here

With one hand wrapped around my forearm, she slowly pulled the tip of the marker across the skin of my upper arm. Bookmark here

There were a few seconds of silence. Bookmark here

In a soft voice, she suddenly said: Bookmark here

“You know, you’re much smarter than you make yourself appear.”Bookmark here

Hold on a second… Were we having some kind of moment right now?Bookmark here

“Hey,” I said. “Let’s go back to my room!”Bookmark here

“Eh? What?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, my room!”Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

“For sex!”Bookmark here

She laughed hysterically and said “No, no, no, no” as I tried to pull her up. Bookmark here

Apparently, I was still pretty drunk.Bookmark here

“You’re crazy!” she said. “And way too drunk!”Bookmark here

I let her go and she was still laughing. But for once, it felt like she was laughing with me.Bookmark here

“I’m going to bed,” she said. “And you should too!”Bookmark here

She ran up the staircase, leaving me to myself, my journal, and my magazines—and my unfinished tattoo. Somehow, I’d felt a lot better about myself.Bookmark here

Shortly after, I gathered my things and stumbled up the stairs to my own bedroom.Bookmark here

Jotaro was sound asleep on the bottom bunk, unaware of anything that had transpired in the last few hours.Bookmark here

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When I laid down on the mattress, the room started to spin. But this time, I was spinning with it, and we were making a crash-landing into sleep. Bookmark here

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