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"Grandpa! Your leg! What happened?"


Happy days


I quit the barbershop in Toyonaka after three months. I could not cope with many customers from higher classes. I started to work at Morishima Barbers in Ibaraki City in Osaka. I worked there very comfortably for some years until I moved back to Nagasaki in 1968. I still keep in touch with them.

We rented a small cheap apartment on the corner of a big urban area of Osaka. In the morning the husband would leave for work saying "Bye!" The wife would see him off and reply "Bye!" in her youthful voice. In early evening, the husband would come back. Looking up at the window, he sees the light, runs upstairs and says, "I'm home!" The wife replies, "Hi, honey!" That was what I had dreamed of for years. I could not believe that I was living such a happy life. I remembered reading my father's diary by chance. I was in tears when I learned that he was worried about my future. I had not said anything to my father on that day. I thought I could say "Thank you, Dad, for your sympathy."

My wife and I would often go out together on days off. There are a lot of places to go in and around the Osaka area. Time flies. In early December, when I came home, she said, "We're going to have a baby. A boy or a girl? Which do you think it is?" I took her hands and yelled, "How nice! That's great!" I jumped with joy. I was happy.

I was happy, but I had to think seriously about a lot of things. First, we had to move away from the small apartment when we had the baby, according to the contract. And we would need some money for having and raising a baby. The New Year was approaching, but we needed to prepare for the baby, not for the New Year. I had to keep the winter bonus untouched, instead of buying a chest of drawers and a kotatsu (a low table with foot warmer). I received a letter from home, just a short note saying, "Buy a kotatsu." and 100 thousand yen. Obviously, it was my mother's soft feminine hand. I was so much encouraged by my mother's hand-written note from far away. I guessed she had done that without consulting father. On the other hand, learning that she was still worried about me, I wondered when I would be really independent. Anyway, I rushed to buy a kotatsu, and the balance was put into the bank account.

The year 1967 was a hectic one for me. The master of the barber shop fell seriously ill. We, 3 barbers and a trainee, had to manage everything, together with the master's wife. My wife and I moved into one of what they normally (and ironically) call Bunka-jutaku or "cultural residence" in the Osaka area. It had only one small Japanese room of four-and-a-half tatami mats, and a cooking space of 2 Tatami-size. In July, my heart ached to see my wife walk saying "Yoisho! (Hi! Ho!)" with her hands holding her big stomach. Obviously she was suffering from some pain. But, what could I do? I only hoped she could cope with it. One day, when I touched her big stomach, I noticed that the baby was not moving as actively as before. My wife's mother came to stay with us to help us. So, I asked her about it. "Don't worry. A little before the birth, the baby becomes a little quiet." Her reply relieved us and I was able to go to work without too much to worry about it. The master of the barbershop stayed in hospital for almost the whole year. While the boss was sick, some of my colleagues quit. That was really painful to me. We also had to struggle to sustain sales.

The labor pains started on the 17th. I heard that the pain or the sign was not strong enough, so, we had to wait until the 20th for the baby to be born. I tried not to make my mother-in-law work too hard, so I sometimes had to take my baby to a nearby public bath house. I was not able to take a day off too often for baby-caring. It was really hard.

Since I had heard about the pregnancy, I had been worried about the possible health problems of Hibaku-Nisei (children of Hibakusha). I tried to believe that nothing would happen to our baby. I dared not discuss it with my wife. I hated to give her an extra burden.

A girl was born at dawn. She weighed 2600 grams, a little smaller than average. I checked everything, including the number of fingers. She looked normal. The small baby with a wrinkled face was crying so loud, with all her might. I was so moved and tears fell from my eyes. I had to explain to a nurse who looked a little anxious about me. "Because I'm a Hibakusha, I was worried..." "I understand. Congratulations, you have a healthy daughter." she seemed to understand.

I tried to be with the baby for as long as possible. Her motions were marvelous and I never got bored watching her. I thought about the astronomical numbers of reproductive cells and about the miracle of fertilizing and growing into a body with bones, muscles, limbs, and all the other necessary parts. I thought and thought about her name until we named her Takae. It is hard to explain why we chose it.