Episode 8: Father and son’s will
Yumi returns home to Kensuke and her mother after rejecting Akira. Her mother tells her that she should have taken a breather since she has come to babysit Kensuke and says it is about time she finds a good man. Kensuke, who has been listening to their conversation, is about to tell his grandmother about Akira but is quickly silenced by Yumi.
At that moment, the door bell rings. It is Akira. Yumi is unhappy that he chose to come even though he knew that her mother would be here. Ignoring her complaint, he accuses her of making a fool of him as well as his father. Then he holds out something wrapped in a purple cloth and asks her to read it so that she will understand what kind of person his father is. This letter which Akira treasures very much, was written by Kaiun who instructed Shoun to pass it to Akira after his coming-of-age ceremony.
In 1996, Yasu suddenly receives a phone call from Shimano Akiyuki, a man who says he is the son of Yasu’s father. Yasu’s father has been hospitalised and it seems that he will not live long. Shimano asks if Yasu will see him before he dies because he wishes to apologise. Yasu, who cannot imagine that his father is still alive after being out of touch for close to 50 years, is troubled about meeting him again. Although he was told that his father is going to die, he felt no rush of emotions. He cannot remember his face too. He tells Shoun and Yukie that when he was small, he used to hate his father, but over time he forgot those feelings probably because his father had become a complete stranger to him. Yukie urges Yasu to go because she knows that he would even help a complete stranger. Moreover, he can see Akira while in Tokyo. However, Yasu decides not to because of his promise to Akira.
At that same moment, Taeko tells Kuzuhara and Hagimoto about Yasu’s childhood. Yasu’s mother died soon after Yasu was born during the post-war years. Yasu’s father looked after him for a while. But when Yasu was three or four, he placed him in the care of his late wife’s elder brother and wife, and went to Tokyo to look for work. They thought he would not return for some time. Then he found a job and a new wife … … So Yasu was left like this. Hagimoto wonders what Yasu intends to do in the future since Akira is in mass media and cannot come back to their hometown. Yasu merely says that a promise is a promise, and puts an end to the discussion.
The next day, Taeko comes to Amagasaki Transportation with a lunch box to eat with a surprised Yasu. She shows him a toy boat fashioned from a soap container that his father made for him. She tells him how he would always carry it the public bath and boast to her about his father’s promise to make a better one when he returned. However, on one occasion, he dropped it in front of the public bath. Thinking that a bigger child might take it, Taeko brought it home. But after she heard from her mother that his father would not be coming back, she could neither return or throw it away because she thought Yasu would be angry and pound it. She gently reminds him that even if he does not remember it, there was a time when he loved his father and would anxiously await his return.
Deciding to go to Tokyo, Yasu adds his own name into the shift schedule for the long-haul journey to Tokyo but pretends it was already like this when he realised it. Although he declares that he will take responsibility, his annoyed superior naturally disapproves since he has not ridden long-haul in years. At that moment, Hagimoto intervenes and indicates on the schedule that Yasu will ride in a truck driven by Kuzuhara to Tokyo. And so, Yasu is given a legitimate reason to go to Tokyo that overrides his promise to Akira.
Before Yasu makes his way to the hospital to meet Shimano, Kuzuhara hands him two boxes of souvenirs. One box was prepared by everyone at the workplace for Yasu’s father while the other box was prepared by his wife for Akira. When Yasu insists that he is not going to see Akira and walks off, Kuzuhara tells him that his wife wants him to know that it is not trivial promises that he should remember but that he and Akira only have each other. Yasu grudingly takes the boxes and grumbles about everybody.
At the hospital, Yasu learns that Shimano is a son from his mother’s previous marriage. Yasu’s father did not have any other children. When Shimano observes that this must have been out of consideration for Yasu, Yasu points out that his father would have come for him then. Shimano thinks he has always regretted not doing so and asks Yasu to believe in this. Before Shimano can open the door to the hospital room, Yasu asks for time to mentally prepare himself. But when Shimano suggests that they go inside later, Yasu frowns and changes his mind, causing Shimano to smile at this similarity between father and son. Shimano leaves Yasu alone with his father after telling him that he should wake up in a little while once the medication wears off. Yasu, who accidentally knocks a book off the bedside table, sees that it contains news clippings on 10 March of different years. The day of his birthday.
Settling down in a chair next to his sleeping father, Yasu tells him that he was a naughty child who often got thrown out of class. He grew up with two childhood friends Taeko, whom he describes as meddlesome and unbearably naggy although she took good care of him, and Shoun, whom he calls a baffling fellow that always smiled and watched instead of stopping him when he was up to mischief. As a result, the two of them would get punished by Shoun’s very terrifying father. He went to the town’s university and became a truck driver. Driving around in a truck suited his personality. Because of that he also met Misako who later became his wife. They had a son Akira who in no way resembles Yasu. In fact, everyone around Yasu has the annoying habit of telling him that an ordinary parent has produced a genius. Yasu feels these 47 years have not been bad. If his father had come to get him, he would probably have had a different life which might be decent. However, he never hoped for it. Taking his father’s hand in his, Yasu tells him that the many good things in his life would not have been possible if he did not have him. “Thank you for giving birth to me.”
After this, Yasu leaves the hospital room. Shimano tries to persuade him to wait until his father has woken up so that he can apologise to him. However, Yasu declares that no apology is needed. The past does not matter to him. He is happy now and that is enough.
Yasu visits Tokuda Publishing next. Akira is out for an interview and will come back as soon as he can so Kobayashi receives him instead. Yasu, who is taken to see the editorial department, is aghast at the state of Akira’s desk. Kobayashi explains that Akira has been busy lately because he has been working him hard. He found that he could rely on him and ended up assigning tasks. Although Akira’s use of honorific speech is not perfect and he is not a flatterer, Kobayashi feels that he appeals to the elders and superiors. Yasu attributes this to the fact that many people had a hand in raising Akira. However, in Kobayashi’s opinion, it was Yasu who brought up Akira. Kobayashi lets Yasu read the essay that Akira wrote for the job test while he waits for Akira and extracts a promise from him to keep this a secret. He says it is a good essay that will dispel any notion that they favoured Akira because he worked part-time with them.
In the essay titled “Lie and Truth”, Akira writes that he has no mother. She died in an accident when he was 3. At the time of his elementary school graduation, his father told him that his mother sacrificed her life to save him from being crushed by cargo. He grew up believing in those words and never doubted it. Eight years later in his second year of university, he received a letter written by Kaiun who stated that it was actually Akira’s life that his mother saved and wanted him to forgive his father for this lie which he had told for his sake after much agonising. Kaiun wished Akira would feel blessed that he has come of age with the protection of his mother, upbringing of his father and the help of many people; that he would live a long life and never forget to be grateful to his mother, the people around him and his father who loves him more than anyone else. Kaiun hoped that he would say thank you to his father one day. When he sees his mother he would tell her that her son is good at studies and sports and turned out well. It would probably make his mother happiest if he did not resent his father for that lie. Akira writes that he could not stop his tears from flowing as he read Kaiun’s letter. He never once thought it was his father’s fault or hated him even though he was made to believe his mother died to protect his father. He felt proud that his father did not hate him. His father told a lie which he learnt the truth of when he turned 20. However, he thinks that the most important reality is the years he had with him.
Yasu is overwhelmed reading Akira’s essay. By the time Akira returns to the office with a present of cigarettes for his birthday, he has left. Asked if he had met both his father and Akira when he rejoins Kuzuhara, Yasu says he thinks he did and it feels like he did. Kuzuhara is baffled. Yasu tells him that Akira is a genius who took 20 years or so to understand what he only realised today.
On the other hand, Akira tells Yumi that she underestimates his father’s foolishness. His father would say he killed his mother if it is for his sake. So Akira believes it will not bother him if the person he wants to marry is seven years older and has a child. Yumi has misgivings because she is approaching 40. When Akira reaches his prime she will be an old lady on the decline. She wonders if he will be able to declare that he has no regrets then because she does not have that confidence. Akira decides to tell his side of the story. The first time he met her was when she came to do an interview at a yakitori shop where he worked part-time at 19. She turned up every day and somehow won over the shop owner. People who read her article raced to eat at the shop and Akira was inspired to do this kind of job in the future. But by the time he got into City Beat, she had already changed magazines. He remembers how he thought her a restless person necause she kept changing seats frequently at a drinking session they had together. But he realised she was sitting beside lackluster people and talking to them. He felt that she was a kind person. After that, she got divorced. One day, he found her venting her anger by crushing empty drink cans which she later picked up and put back. It made him feel very close to her. When he started helping to take care of Kensuke, almost everything about her was refreshing to him. He noticed that she would leave all sorts of stuff lying around, and is shy and troublesome despite her age.
Confessing that he is attracted to her, Akira says that he wants to be there for her when she is feeling down and that he cannot leave her alone because he worries about her. No one else makes him feel this way so he does not want her to say she does not think she is good enough for him. Yumi is moved. When she prods him that an editor would wrap it up better, he asks her to marry him.
That night, Akira calls his father and tells him that there is someone he would like him to meet … …
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