6 July, Akira Higashiyama

文字数 3,348文字

Like My Father


When the state of emergency was declared in Japan in April, my father was in Taiwan receiving treatment for his heart and prostate. Before we knew it, transport between the two countries ceased, and he’s been stuck in Taiwan since. My parents have been apart for almost three months now, which is the longest they’ve ever gone without seeing each other. Concerned for her husband’s health, my mother constantly complains about her need to fly to Taiwan at once, but there’s nothing she or anyone else can do about the current situation. My father, on the other hand, seems unperturbed. Even if I never see you again in this life, he’d say to my mother on the phone, it’s nothing to weep over.
  Ever since I was a kid living in Taiwan, I’ve always been terrified of death. In an effort to understand it, I’d pester grown-ups to tell me old Chinese ghost stories from

Liaozhai

Zhiyi

and recount wartime tales. The grown-ups told me not to worry. Death was nothing to be afraid of; as long as I behaved myself, everything would be all right in the end.
  Looking back, none of the elders I knew seemed to fear death. It makes sense that my grandfather, a dauntless man who fought in many wars, and my uncle, who had a violent disposition, weren’t afraid to die. But it puzzles me that someone like my father—a man who has dedicated his life to learning and poetry—can be so calm in the face of death. When asked about his day on the phone, he’ll reply that he watched three movies on TV, as if dying were the last thing on his mind.
  As a novelist, there are moments when I feel uncertain about the authenticity of my own voice. These moments are accompanied by a sense of guilt, for I know I’m not expected to prove anything to my readers. If there’s one thing I’ve gained from the corona experience, it’s that I was able to get a glimpse of my father’s genuine attitude toward death. Even if what he said about never seeing my mother again became a reality, he would probably just shrug and say in Chinese, Well, what can we do about it?
  Words have the ability to comfort, to overcome challenges with effortless ease. Perhaps my father’s words are proof that he has no regrets. I have two sons; one day, when they are grown, perhaps I, too, will finally be ready to let go of my fears and look death in the face.


Translated by Asuka Minamoto/Arranged by TranNet KK

Akira Higashiyama
Born in Taiwan, 1968. Lived in Taipei until he was five years old, and moved to Japan when he was nine. Won the Silver Medal and Reader’s Choice at the 1st KONOMYS (This mystery novel is amazing!) Award in 2002 for Tādo on za ran (Turd on the run), and made his literary debut in 2003 with

Tōbō

sahō:

TURD

ON

THE

RUN

(Escape method: Turd on the run). Won the 11th Haruhiko Oyabu Award in 2009 for

Robō

(On the roadside), third place in the KONOMYS Award in 2013 for

Burakku

raidā

(Black rider), the 153th Naoki Prize in 2015 for

Ryū

(Flow), the 11th Chūōkōron Literary Award for

Tsumi

no

owari

(End of sin), and the 34th Oda Sakunosuke Prize, 69th Yomiuri Prize for Literature, and 3rd Watanabe Junichi Literary Prize in 2017 for

Boku

ga

koroshita

hito

to

boku

o

koroshita

hito

(The person I killed and the person who killed me).

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