Friday, July 29, 2011

Your smiling face (re-post)

One tiny thing that made me so happy In the middle of this week:

I happened to see my kohai (your friend or co-worker younger than you).

I had been worried about her because she is from Fukushima. I also knew that her hometown was near the coast that got destroyed by the huge tsunami on March the eleventh. She replied to my email only once at the end of the month, and from her message I could tell that she was having a hard time.

In Japanese, when you communicate with people older than you, you generally use honorifics. And she is one of my younger fellows who call me "senpai" (a term and also an addressing word for your friend or co-worker older than you, as opposed to the word "kohai"), and who always use honorifics to communicate with me.

The reply I got from her, however, didn't include any honorifics in it. The message was also quite short, unlike the usual Japanese messages with lots of long explanations and greeting terms before starting the actual topic. I took that as meaning that she probably didn't have any mental room to think about how to wrap around her words with polite words. And of course all the lifelines had been dead at that time.

So I stopped emailing her; I just wanted to make sure that she was alive. Now that I knew she was alive, I decided to wait until she came back to school, hoping to see her in April when the spring semester started.

Time had passed. I didn't see her in April. Every time I saw my other kohai at school, I thought about her. I considered emailing her again, but I stopped myself just in case she was still having lifeline issues. I waited and waited and waited, and even the Golden Week was over, but I couldn't find her at school or anywhere in town.

And then, she suddenly appeared in front of me this Wednesday....with a lovely smile on her face. She called me, and as soon as I recognized her, I hugged her. I'd missed her enough. What a surprise! What a relief! She was back to school, safe and healthy! Tears almost came out from my eyes. In fact, my kohai was crying. She seemed that she had wanted to see me. I held her in my arms quite a long time--I needed to do so.

It hurt me when she told me that her hometown (and probably she herself) was suffering from the "harmful rumor" related to the nuke plant.  There has been lots of sad news about kids in Kanto area bullying kids from Fukushima at school and about people not buying vegetables from Fukushima that are not irradiated ones. Why can't people be nice to people having a hard time? They all know what happend in Tohoku. Imagine you were in the same situation as them--losing your own house, workplace, your loved ones, friends, and co-workers. Why are people worried about their own safety only, relying on the wrong information?

My kohai is a strong girl. She's been through all the hard times, and she still wears such a genuine smile.
I love her smiling face. Her smile gives people energy. And I don't want her to lose it. Anymore. I will do anything (for her) if it can make her smile.

I can't go to Tohoku to help people clean up. I can't give away lots of money either. And probably there are many people like me. But still, there are things, just tiny little things, that you can do to help people suffering from the damage.

It's time to think about what you can, not only to rebuild Tohoku, but also to cure people over/from there with broken heart.


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