27 August, Risa Itō

文字数 4,019文字

Ordinary Day


The time is slightly in the future.
  As expected, there is an overpopulation of humans. If all of humanity were a beef bowl, it would be an extra-large serving, swimming,

drowning

in sauce. The government wants to bring the population back to a regular serving. So, they made the agonizing decision, they said, to launch Go To The Happiest Moment Of Your Life!
  They gave it such a name, making the whole thing sound all nice, but really, it’s a harsh policy to control the population. You know, thinning the herd.
  You take a special pill at your home or a facility where family members and nurses can stay by your side as you go to sleep. This is when you think of your happiest moment. If your mind doesn’t travel there, or if it travels to the wrong place, you die. Only those whose mind does travel, and goes to the right place, survive. People are enraged by the new policy—who has the right to decide your happiest moment? But experts say that there are just too many humans.
  The notice and pill are sent to adults in random order. It’s mandatory for every adult, although the timing is up to the government. You only have to do it once. The notice has come to 35-year-old Aiko. It’s considered a little early for someone her age to receive the notice.

  I just want to get this over with, sweetie. I’ll do it tonight.
  Aiko is a mom.
  But Mom, do you know when your happiest moment was? If you get it wrong, you’ll die.
  She has a loving husband, Yoshio, and a ten-year-old daughter, Mika. Takuya’s mom next door didn’t make it, remember? Yoshio and Mika say, their noses (and eyes) running like waterfalls.
  It’s either the wedding, or the moment Mika was born. Don’t worry.
  Really, I’m not worried at all. It couldn’t be any other moment. She popped the drug in her mouth and swallowed it.

  Huh?
  I’m on a bus. I’m on my way home. It’s early evening, the bus is driving up a mountain, going along the curve. Here comes the big pothole. There. The bus jolts every time. I look at the ribbon on my school uniform. Then the back of my hand. It’s so smooth. I catch my reflection in the window. My face! It’s glowing with youth. Right, I get it. I’m back in high school.
  (I guess I got it wrong. . . .)
  Back then, I spent almost an hour each way to get to and back from school. I couldn’t wait to graduate. I studied non-stop, because I wanted to go to a university in Tokyo. Why have I come back to such an ordinary day?
  (I’m going to die. . . .)
  It’s strange how calm I feel. I can see the usual sunset. It sets between the mountains. A big sunset. Beautiful, as always. So bright. . . .

  Aiko didn’t die. She’s alive. She hadn’t gotten it wrong. That was her happiest moment. Really? That place? What is happiness? To this day, it’s a mystery to her. But she’s alive. Mika and Yoshio haven’t asked about the details of her moment, in the same way you wouldn’t ask someone who they voted for in an election. Perhaps she’ll tell them when it’s their turn to take the pill. It might not be a special day. It could be a really ordinary day, you know. Life is like that, she’d say, as if she were a wise elder.


Translated by Yuka Maeno/Arranged by TranNet KK

Risa Itō
Born in Nagano Prefecture, 1969. Made her debut as a manga-artist in 1987 with

Otōsan

no

kyūjitsu

(Dad’s holiday), serialized in

Gekkan

ASUKA

magazine. Her long-running manga series

Oi

Pītan!!

(Hey Pītan!) received the 29th Kodansha Manga Awards. She also won the 10th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize (Short Story Award) in 2006 for works including

Onna

ippiki

neko

futari

(One girl and two cats) and

Onna

no

mado

(Girl’s window). Married fellow manga-artist Yoshida Sensha in 2007, and had her first child in 2010. Her representative works are

Yacchimattayo

ikkodate!!

(We’ve done it, a detached house!!),

Okāsan

no

tobira

(Mother’s door),

Onna

no

hashori

dō

(A woman’s shortcut), among others.

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