Akino Terayama, Telepathy (translated by Toshiya Kamei)

She had been standing on the platform of a small decayed station. 'I'll never forget this moment as long as I live,' Tsueko thought, staring at the blue silhouette of the Southern Alps. The morning sun began to rise over the mountaintop. The cold air swept against her legs in her monpe pants. She wrapped her muffler tighter around her neck and stamped her feet to keep warm. She tried to hold herself together, but felt hot tears trickling down her cheeks. If her husband, who worked in a faraway city, had been home, her mother-in-law wouldn't have been so unreasonable to her. 'I can't live with this woman anymore,' she thought. Furious, she had hardly slept the night before. She didn't care what would happen. She had waited until dawn and then left her home. A gleam of sun shone down out of the dark sky, painting the mountain salmon pink. On the other side of the station, a large zelkova tree began to appear in the haze, its naked treetop shaking in the roaring wind. The cedars on the north side of a white-walled house swayed in the same direction. As the wood-paned windows in the station shuddered, Tsueko trembled in the cold air. She remembered her daily toils—bending over, staring down at her feet. On the farm, she and her mother-in-law worked side by side all day long. Tsueko had no time to catch her breath. Many times trivial things ballooned into bigger problems. This time, however, she had decided she had enough. 'It's been a long time since I last noticed how big the mountain is,' Tsueko thought. 'Don't be so childish; you shouldn't run away over such small things.' She heard the mountain speak. Fifty years old—at this age, Tsueko could keep calm and listen to others only for a while. She had already made up her mind. 'I'd put up with my mother-in-law long enough," Tsueko thought. 'She isn't the only one who is getting old. I'm not young anymore either.' The sun's red paint spread downward from the peak. Mountains layered one after another like a hina doll's kimono shone in the morning light, drawing a straight line of shadows. The mountain in March was painted red and purple, trees with white coats on its buds. The white, mixed with the dark green of the cedar forest, carried spring. Her legs felt frozen. Tsueko curled her toes inside her tabi socks. Worried that someone might see her, she had sneaked out of her house in her work clothes. She could easily curl her toes as the straps of her geta sandals were loose. 'I'm going to get on the first train. I'll never see my mother-in-law again,' she thought. In the flower garden on the platform, she saw two crocuses buried under frosts. As Tsueko noticed the blue and yellow flowers, she felt a fire burning inside her. 'Even these flowers aren't afraid of expressing themselves. I too want to feel alive! I've tried to fit in with the Konno family and please my mother-in-law too long. I've had enough!' She felt sorry for herself. She wished she had the courage of the crocuses, standing fast in the cold wind. Tsueko and her husband had no child. 'The Konnos won't be able to accuse me of anything. I own them nothing,' she assured herself. The sun illuminated the old railroad ties that bordered the flower garden, rays of light bouncing off the frosts. Tsueko's tears blurred her vision, turning everything in a large mass of light. The rails began to vibrate, sending off a light mechanical sound. As the familiar echo of a train approached the station, it resonated inside Tsueko. Before long, the two-car train came into view in the distance, moving steadily closer.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Random Contributor
Mary Pomfret