“Sumimasen…“ It’s a reflex, really. I shouldn’t have…
I hold out the single warm glove, I pick up. The old lady turns around and stares in many shades of confusion playing around her eyes. I must have spoken Japanese. Her brows shoot up, seeing her glove in my hand.
“Thank you laddie! Bless you.“ I smile and bow slightly. Bright sunshine warms my back. The heavy tarry feeling on my hand stays, like mud on boots. The old lady turns away and hobbles down Park Lane. Her grey tweed jacket flickers with shadow and light, as she passes under the canopy of the trees nearby.
No matter how hard I try, the sadness stings in my throat, burns behind my eyes. I rip my gaze away from her back.
The old lady dies.
Time is cruel, I’m tempted to say.
But why should I call a river cruel, only for it flows downhill.
Yes, those words are my master’s words. Funny how his voice already found its way into my thoughts. Infinitely wiser and older than I am, his guidance is… inevitable. My master says, I shouldn’t pity humans, I shouldn’t feel sadness or sorrow. But he doesn’t tell me how to stop…
The smell of freshly mowed grass keeps me company, as I walk down the busy street and avoid the touch of passersby. I turn into Mount Street and to my surprise, I’m in…
How can this be?!
In front of me, the Kabushiki-gaisha Wako Building, with the Hattori Clock Tower, looms over the Nissan crossing. I’m in Tokyo!
I know that clock, from every clock in the world. It beams, like a substitute moon on a sunny afternoon. I’ve spent three years staring at it before sunrise, during my time as headsecretary for Minister Tenjin Shinko Kagekamuy.
My shadow tugs at my ankles. “Master?” My whisper is barely audible. My shadow’s hand points to a crumpled-up newspaper. Over the header the date is a real surprise. 17th July, 20th Showa year.
What am I doing in 1945?
Just now, I’ve been walking down Park Lane, near Hyde Park, and I’m sure the newspaper has 25th of March, 1984 printed as date… “Why am I here?” My shadow gives me no clues.
When in doubt, go back to where you have started. Minister Kagekamuy uses to say. Now that I think of it, he is right. My old apartment is in the vicinity.
Wonder where the Minister is, in 1945. We talk about this once.
“Where were you, when the atom bomb exploded,” he asks me. I say, I’m not even born. His reaction to my answer is weird. “I don’t quite believe that.” He tells me, that three days before the bomb falls, he is home, on sick leave, after a surgery. A good friend saves his life.
Oh my, I remember. His family has a big house in Hiroshima. This is bad.
– to be continued –
picture: trinity bomb