They took a bus to Umegae family’s grave. As they left to the outskirts of the city, private housing are sparse with fields of crop spreading out.
At corner of the graveyard, there is a small temple. It is strange to see rows of tombs lining up.
They could not help but to recognize all the new, old, pretty and rotting tombs and the dead sleeping underneath it.
Is Utaha’s father, who is still on a journey to find her supposedly dead wife somewhere under the skies?
“My mother died last year in July.”
Standing in front of the tombstone, Utaha suddenly muttered while cleaning the grave with a scrubbing brush soaked with water. It seemed she said it softly to let Keito hear it and to sound like a soliloquy at the same time.
“Last year huh.”
When Keito pulled out the weeds and affirmed it,
“My mother committed suicide.”
That is also a soliloquy. Until the sound of the word 《suicide》changed into characters in Keito’s brain, an interval occurred in an instant.
Did it not get through to him?
“When I returned home, my mother hung herself.”
Keito groaned, unable to find words to say next.
“I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable, but I wanted you to know.”
Cleaning around the small grave will be over soon.
They poured water into the bowl and place it in front of the grave, placing fresh flowers into a vase and lighted up candles and incense sticks.
The unique scent of incense sticks tickles their nose. After they saying prayers, everything seemed to be finished.
“If you don’t mind, would you join me?”
Utaha brought out a rosary, place it in between her palms, closed her eyes. The profile of Utaha who has her head slightly lowered is exceptionally beautiful. Keito also imitates her by placing his hands together.
A moment of silence filled the surroundings.
There is not one else at the cemetery except for Keito and Utaha.
When it is time for the Bon Festival* in August, many more will probably visit and offer flowers and prayers to the dead.
Where is Shizuka’s grave? The things he have never thought before, flashes across his head. Now that he doesn’t know the whereabouts of her parents, there is very little ways to investigate.
Is she really dead in the first place? he heard that the body is still missing. If so, maybe she is really living somewhere out there.
Perhaps the one that Utaha’s mother saw was the living Shizuka. Maybe she is just wandering around without her memories.
No way. That is impossible. However, he kept asking himself countless of times without producing an answer.
When he thinks of death, a dull pain hurt him deep into his eyelids. When he closed his eyes, it causes him to well up in tears.
“Aikawa-san, thank you very much.”
Keito remained silent until Utaha called out to him.
From a distance, the shrill calls of the evening cicada (kanakana*) could be heard. Unlike large brown cicadas (aburazemi), their chirp are somewhat quiet and sad.
“I will tell you a little bit more about my mother.”
It was said that Utaha’s mother, Mari, was acting weirdly before her death.
She was brooding often, increasingly talking to herself and cried sometimes as well. Then, a year ago in the middle of July, it seems that day was an awfully hot day despite being in the middle of a rainy season.
Her mother left the world abandoning both of her family members, the paintings, the name of the building 『Tsuyukusa』, and the coffee that is served there.
“I still don’t know the reason she took her own life. However…….I heard from my father that such a thing happens from time to time for a messenger. It seems that my mother’s mother, in other words my grandmother was also able to see lost words. And in the end, the case was went cold without knowing whether it was a accident or suicide.
I might follow that same path as well. Thus, Aikawa-san. As I ask for your help each time, I fear that I have gotten you involved in all of this. I can’t say that you had a similar experience.
If, you heard everything now and decided to stop lending your aid tomorrow, I am powerless to stop you. It is not sincere for me to continue receiving your help without telling you this fact.”
“I’ll do it.”
Keito answered immediately without any hesitation.
“At the very least, until I met Shizuka, I will still visit no matter what you say. Even if you told me not to, I would still pay you a visit.”
“Very well. Shizuka-san is really important to you it seems.”
“That’s right. I…….liked her.”
He didn’t want to lie in front of Utaha.
Even he don’t know what the feeling of love is. However, Keito had been thinking about Shizuka ever since before the accident. That is probably call love.
“But I don’t have the right. I did something unforgivable.”
When he was in the fifth grade,
Since he was a child, he was a crybaby. Keito would cry often when he was bullied by his classmates. He probably had a good relationship with Shizuka as well. One day before he and Shizuka were going home, some of the boys were making fun of Keito and Keito gave in. If he had courage, he would have say he hated Takamori.
『I hate you. You read books all day, how boring.』
『I’m sorry, you’re right. So let’s stop going home together. I’ll stop talking to you.』
Shizuka had a very dejected face.
Immediately regretting his words, he tried to retract his words and telling her that wasn’t his intentions but the surrounding didn’t allowed him.
In the end, Shizuka who was in the sixth grade graduated because of their school year was different by one year and they didn’t see each other after that.
“I had betrayed Shizuka. I said such hateful words to a nice girl like her. That’s why this might be for my sake. I want to see Shi-chan because I want to be saved, I want to be forgiven. That’s probably it.”
It is possible that he will hear from Shizuka about her grudge against him. That day in the fifth grade. And the day of that incident. Regardless he still wants to hear her voice, was what he thought of at this moment.
「The dewfall on the tips, or
The droplets on the roots: for
This world of ours, where
We die, go on ahead,
I wonder, are they a model?」*
After receiving Keito’s confession, Utaha slightly opened her mouth while gazing at the tip of the leaves that grows on the side of the tombstone.
“That is a tanka by one of the six immortals of poetry, Sojo Henjo. The (Ogura) Hyakunin Isshu’s*
『O, Heaven’s winds, The pathways of the clouds Seal up! Let these maiden forms Be held here a little while! 』 * is well known. I still hold on to numerous tankas with sexual allure that is unworthy of the Sangha*, but on the other hand, I can recite many tankas about seeing the vanity of the uncertainty of the world like this one.”
Utaha continued before Keito can ask her “So what about it?”.
” 『Tsuyukusa』 is named after the picture of an Asiatic dayflower that my mother drew. As for it’s flower language, I have told you about it previously. However, is that really it?”
That question is practically a soliloquy.
“My mother had left numerous number of things. However, the only thing that she didn’t left me with was her true motive. Succeeding after mother, was only thing I had imagined doing.
I am sure it is the same for you as well, Aikawa-san.”
Even though it is in the middle of the day, Utaha’s words and expression sounds like it is dissolving and about to vanish.
That illusion lasted for an instant and headed back without waiting for Keito’s answer.
A woman called out to her by saying: “Hello, Utaha-chan”.
Keito is familiar with that person too. She is a friend of Utaha whom he met previously in 『Tsuyukusa』. On that occasion, she was on her way home and wore a suit.
Maybe today she wear plain clothes because she is visiting the cemetery, which is compose attire overall.
“The both of you were talking about something serious in front of the tomb so I missed my timing. If I recall, I met the boy before right?”
“My name is Aikawa Keito.”
“I am Oda Misora. Could it be that you are Utaha-chan’s boyfriend?”
“I thought so.”
Misora immediately nodded towards Keito’s words. Looks like she is teasing him.
“Aikawa-san is lending me a helping hand.”
“Ah, I see.”
It seemed she also knew the duties as a messenger once he saw that she immediately understood the meaning of 『help』that Utaha had mentioned.
“Are you also a messenger, Oda-san?”
“Hmm? Ah, no I am not. I was saved by Utaha-chan.”
“Misora-san is the first person that I have delivered the lost words to.”
“It was about three months ago. I was astounded at that time.”
“Perhaps you are visiting Sasami’s grave?”
“Yeah. It just so happens that today is her birthday. I was busy finding a job during that period and I couldn’t come to her death anniversary in March, so today is kinda like an atonement.”
“So Sasami’s grave is also here?”
” 『Also』? You mean you also have someone close to you buried here, Utaha-chan?”
“Yes. My mother is here.”
“I see. So that is why Keito-kun is together with you.”
“It is because when I think of the future, I thought of obtaining more knowledge about various things.”
“I see………Well, I also don’t know much about the details completely. Hey, do you have time after this? Since we had bumped into each other, why don’t we take a little? Keito-kun, let’s go together.”
“Okay, I don’t mind.”
“But before that, can I pay a visit to Sasami’s grave?”
“Of course you can. I am sure that child would be delighted too.”
Misora answered Utaha’s request and Keito followed the both of them until they stopped in front of a tomb of the girl called Sasami. Following the flow of the story, she is probably the lost words Utaha had delivered to Misora.
Flowers were offered on the tombstones of the Rokujo’s family, but all of it have withered. It doesn’t look like it is placed there recently.
“I came here empty-handed. There is still some time before the month of her death anniversary. My parents cleans it every month. I can’t bring myself to throw it away you see.”
Keito closes his eyes and offered a prayer.
Today is a day he offered his help to strangers a number of times. Even if they are strangers, they became serious with regards to death.
Since Misora came here by car, they gladly accepted her offer. Misora said it was it is a cheap and second-hand but the cooler make the interior comfortable.
In the car, they listened to Misora’s personal history.
Oda Misora. At the age of 23, she has became a member of society for the first year. Ever day she travels along the neighboring prefecture of one of the three major city in Japan, Narumi City.
“I am an editorial for a magazine for the time being, although I am still a grunt, handling miscellaneous affairs though.”
Talking to someone like her, one would understand that Misora is a sociable person and seems to have an outspoken personality that allows her to get closer with anyone right away. It really helps that the conversation is able to go on without any interruptions.
It feels like she is very intimate with Utaha, but actually they only known each other for several months.
“Keito-kun, did you hear about Sasami?”
“No, I haven’t heard the story.”
“If that’s the case, I will say it.”
“Is it really okay for me to hear it?”
“If Misora-san doesn’t mind, then please tell me about it.”
Keito wants to know more about the lost words that Utaha was involved with. However, he hesitated probing into Misora’s private life for his own sake so he was thankful for her offer.
TL: Bon Festival or just Bon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors’ graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori.
TL: Evening Cicada (Tanna japonensis) are called higurashi (蜩, 茅蜩, ひぐらし) and/or kanakana because of the noise that it makes. Large brown cicada (Graptopsaltria nigrofuscata) are called aburazemi (アブラゼミ) in Japanese.
TL: [末の露 もとの雫や世の中の おくれさきだつ ためしなるらむ] is from the New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems (新古今和歌集 Shin Kokin Wakashu) Book VIII: Laments 757, by Yoshimine no Munesada (良岑宗貞) , better known as Henjou.
TL: The Six Immortals of Poetry (六歌仙 Rokkasen) were famous poets of Waka in the early Heian period of Japanese history. They were: Ōtomo no Kuronushi, Ono no Komachi, Ariwara no Narihira, Kisen Hōshi, Sōjō Henjō and Fun’ya no Yasuhide. This list of poets was composed by Ki no Tsurayuki in the preface of the Imperial anthology, the Kokin Wakashū (905), who then proceeds to critique their style individually. The title “immortals of waka” (歌仙 kasen) was given to them later.
TL: Hyakunin Isshu (百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred Japanese waka by one hundred poets. Hyakunin isshu can be translated to “one hundred people, one poem [each]”; it can also refer to the card game of uta-garuta, which uses a deck composed of cards based on the Hyakunin Isshu.
TL: [天津風 雲の通ひ路吹き閉ぢよ をとめの姿 しばしとどめむ] is from the The Kokin Wakashū (古今和歌集, “Collection of Japanese Poems of Ancient and Modern Times”) Book XVII: Miscellaneous 872 by Yoshimine no Munesada.
TL: Sangha is a Sanskrit word used in many Indian languages, including Pali(saṅgha) meaning “association”, “assembly”, “company” or “community”. It was historically used in a political context to denote a governing assembly in a republic or a kingdom. It is used in modern times by groups such as the political party and social movement Rashtriya Seva Sangh. It has long been commonly used by religious associations including by Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.
In Buddhism, sangha refers to the monastic community of bhikkhus (monks) and bhikkhunis (nuns). These communities are traditionally referred to as the bhikkhu-sangha or bhikkhuni-sangha. As a separate category, those who have attained any of the four stages of enlightenment, whether or not they are members of the monastic community, are referred to as the āryasaṅgha “noble Sangha”.
According to the Theravada school, the term “sangha” does not refer to the community of sāvakas (lay followers) nor the community of Buddhists as a whole.