The Kimochi Warui Diary
That same night, on the way to our new hotel in Tokiwadai, I explained the situation to Jotaro:
I’d be spending most of the day with Yuno in Ueno—possibly into the night.
Jotaro thought for a moment. Then he finally said, “I’m gonna go take pictures of Mt. Fuji.”
The next morning, I awoke before 10:00 AM and hopped on the train for Ueno. Once I got off, I scoured the station for that blue ribbon—the same one she had worn at Mito Station.
I looked at my Twitter messages to see if she had sent anything new in the meantime. There were only the same messages from last night:
“You should wear your blue ribbon again!” I said. “That way, I can find you easily.”
“Ok! Blue ribbons good!?”
“Yes! It’s cute!”
I got off the train and rushed past the crowd. I made my way to the entrance of the station and, leaning against one of the pillars, saw a familiar bob of black hair—topped with none other than a blue ribbon.
“Oh! [Watashi]-san. You are here!”
“See?” I said, pointing to the ribbon. “It helped!”
She smiled and pointed to the ribbon on her head. “Yes! My attractive point!”
Instead of wearing a school uniform, she was wearing a baby blue coat. Even in this coat, her hands looked incredibly small coming out of the large sleeves. I wondered just how small and frail her figure actually might have been beneath it.
Speaking of the school uniform… That was proof enough, wasn’t it? This, here, was someone who knew all the worst things about me, and yet, they were more than happy to hang out with me all day at the zoo.
Even so, it felt like something was missing.
We picked up a map and began our journey through the zoo, starting with the monkeys. With mine and Yuno’s limited language abilities combined, we resorted to pointing at the animals and signifying the emotion we wanted to express:
A laugh, a gasp, an “ahh,” an 「お～」
When we did venture into speaking the other’s language, we quickly reached the limits of our language lessons. Our relationship was far past “Where are you from?” and “What is your major?” In the realm of actual and real conversation, we knew nothing. Even this mutual and unspoken understanding wasn’t enough to help us break ground beyond the most basic sentiments.
Yuno and I took some stairs down to the nocturnal animal exhibit. Down here, it was completely dark, except for the small slivers of light pouring in through slits near the ceiling.
The space was crowded with families waiting for their turn to see the animals encased behind the glass. Down here, I could close my eyes and no one would know. I heard everyone speaking at once, sometimes picking out words I’d known and understood, but I could not discern any sentences or conversations.
For a moment, I felt as if I was back inside the crowded train, bathing in my solitude and indifferent of my own existence among everyone else.
We eventually made our way to the side of the park housing the avian creatures: penguins, flamingos, hawks, and even common sparrows.
But standing above the rest was the most interesting bird of all:
If Yuno and I could only communicate through basic emotions, then shoebill got us to show the entire range of them.
Laughter at his strange head and vacant expression.
Astonishment at his large stature and upright posture.
Sadness for the fact that he was the only one of his kind inside the cage.
The shoebill was a bird through and through, but everything about him was different than the rest. He would never fit in with any of the other birds in the zoo.
Had they been able to leave their cages to visit him, they would have doubtlessly gawked at him. Or, maybe some would even admire him, but would he ever know it? Would they ever say they did? Regardless, the existence of the shoebill was a complete aberration to the normal stock of fowl in the zoo.
Shoebill naturally became our favorite bird, so when we saw a plush toy made in his image at the gift shop, we tried our best to buy it for the other.
Yuno insisted on buying it for me. But that seemed backwards to me. I wanted to buy it for her… That is, if she even really wanted it.
Maybe I was reading too much into it. Maybe she didn’t actually like shoebill beyond his amusing existence?
I talked us out of the giftshop and into the food court. We decided on putting our money together to buy a large box of fried chicken.
As we were snacking down on the delicious karaage-style fried chicken, Yuno stopped eating. Her eyes widened in sudden horror, and she dropped the chicken on her plate.“We just look at bird… And now… Eating bird!!!”