My first visit to Japan was in April, when cherry blossoms were blooming.
Somewhere around Ueno Park, a white hot air balloon was flying in the sky, carrying the name of a company and some slogan. I had never seen a hot air balloon in real life. Just like a child, I started to run after the thing so that I wouldn’t lose sight of it. The hot air balloon was floating so high above me. The cherry blossom trees were flowering. The park lay quiet with its old temples. The morning sky sparkled with its dreamy blueish tints. The sunlight and the breeze lifted my feet. Every time the wind blew, cherry blossom petals fell like raindrops on my way.
It was love at first sight.
I’ve read somewhere that love feels just like the blue sky in the eye of a soldier who has just been fatally shot. “Ah, so beautiful,” the fatally wounded soldier looks at the blue sky above him and thinks, “How could it be that gorgeous? I want to see more of it. If only I could live longer to see more of it. If only I could live longer… Ah, I want to live.”
Amidst my depression, I often wondered whether this life and this world were really worth it. I questioned the meaning of me continuing to live. But I had promises to keep and things to do, and I was too afraid of death. I had to go on living because I was terrified of dying.
Then I met Kaoru.
One day, we talked about the child she would like to have in the distant future. She wanted a girl. Quite happy and excited, she added, “I want my daughter to speak English so that she can communicate with you!”
At that very moment, it felt as though I was back in Japan, looking at the endless blue sky full of cherry blossom petals while chasing after a hot air balloon floating high above me.
I realized I wanted to live.