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"Grandpa! Your leg! What happened?"
Escape from reality
I went out of my mind after Hidehiro went away. I started to get irritated when I spoke with my daughters at night. I was numb and unable to see what I was thinking about. Nightmares often woke me up in the middle of the night. Tired, I often began my words with, "Such a dupe like me." My brother sensibly warned me that I would really become totally incapable. Loneliness was my worst enemy.
One night, I wanted some change and went out drinking. After my daughters went to sleep, I dressed up and went downtown to an area called Hamanomachi. I was quite surprised to find so many restaurants and bars. Going into one of them, I was greeted by the staff's "Welcome!" and four other customers' glares. After a second, they went back to their happy chatting. Taking a vacant seat, I remembered the night I was nursed and taken home by the woman after drinking too many highballs.
"What would you like to drink?"
I wondered if highballs still existed and replied, "Beer, please." I left after 3 glasses. Again, I was surprised at the crowds going this way and that way, late at night. It must have been the first time in 12 or 13 years I had gone out drinking at night.
That was the beginning of a vicious spiral. I had so many worries that I felt as if I were in a bottomless swamp at night. I was lonely. I wanted somebody to love. I wanted friends, whoever, to laugh and chat together. "Goddamn!" I would kick off my blanket and go out drinking at a nearby bar. I had enough sense to notice that I was only escaping. I knew I had to stop. On the other hand, I could not control my inner voice, which said "Hidetaka, have fun! Drink with women! You'll get crazy unless you have fun!" I got accustomed to going out at night. More than twice a week, I went out at night. I could not completely forget about my family while drinking. Whenever I heard a siren of a fire engine, I ran home. I learned that my daughters occasionally woke up while I was out. Coming back home, I used to look quite carefully at their faces to find some dried tears. "Forgive your father. I will never do this again." I would apologize in my heart and wonder if I could remain their parent until they become independent. Three of us sometimes had fun together. On such occasions, I was encouraged to play the role of their parent. However, I sometimes felt helpless. I was not sure if I was able to do that.
During those days, I met a woman. More precisely, a friend arranged for me to meet her. A friend who ran a clock shop was trying to persuade me to get married again. I did not compromise. One day, he took her with him to meet me, without notice. The woman, in her early 30s, was kind to my daughters, too. They called her "auntie"; we ate together several times. If a child dropped food, she said "oh, no" and picked it up to eat it herself. At the dinner table, the two children sat on either side of her.
It was hard to decide what to do. If I had said, "Come and live with us, as my wife and their mother." she would have replied yes. However, I was not confident enough. I could not believe that that would make her happy. That might have not been a good arrangement for my children, either.
I should have given in to my different thought, that "Hidetaka, this is absolutely your last chance. You'll regret it if you leave her." However, I left her. I know I was only escaping.