“Are you listening, Aikawa-san?”
“Is that the person’s name? Am I right, Chikako-san?”
At the call of Utaha, the old lady nodded slightly as she shivered.
“Or is it somone’s family name?”
Those words showed a similar reaction.
“Unfortunately I can’t decide on which one. Maybe that is not a name and has a different meaning. However it could be a big lead into helping us find this person’s identity. Aikawa-san can you lend a hand?”
“What………….can I do? What do you need help in the first place? I have got so many question, I should be the one asking what can I ask.”
“That is true……..Lets take a break. Is coffee good for you?”
When Keito replied her “it’s okay”,
“Well then, please come over here. Can you bring the old lady as well?”
Keito tugged the old lady’s hand and followed behind Utaha. It seems like the old lady’s footsteps are somewhat reassuring.
When I calmly check my watch, it has already been more than an hour since I left school.
When I returned to the cafe, I felt a little dazzling. It was drizzling and the sky is softly shining. Since the summer solstice is approaching, the sun is still not dropping.
“Please wait here for a while.”
Being prompted by those words, when they sat on one of four tables, Utaha returned shortly.
“It may be bitter but try to drink without adding first.”
There are two cups on the tray. Utaha eventually took one of them and place it in front of Keito as she sat down.
When she put her weight on the back of the chair, I sighed instinctively. It seems like she is more careful than I expected.
The coffee in front of me has a nice aroma.
When I took a sip, it was certainly bitter. Usually I am not used to drinking coffee so I usually add sugar and milk when I do but does black coffee taste like this?
“Do you like it?”
“It is bitter.”
I answer honestly. It has a unique fragrance. It seems like she used carefully roasted beans.
At first it just seemed bitter, but as it passed through my throat, I experienced a slight taste of sweetness.
“Have a palate cleanser.”
I am getting hungry. When I ate the bite-sized chocolate, the melting sweetness spread in my mouth.
“Please enjoy it as much as you like later.”
Taking up on that offer, I took a larger portion of sugar and milk and stirred as the spoon hit the side of the cup, making a ‘kling’ sound.
“Do take your time.”
When I drink the coffee again, the starting bitterness had faded, together with the mildness of the milk, the aromatic taste spreads in my mouth. The taste is very different compared to the instant ones that I had.
“It is sour yet refreshing.”
“I am happy you like it but are you feeling a little relaxed?”
“I should have explained it from the top. Anyhow this is the first time it turned out like this.”
She made eye contact with Keito once again. It seems that she is trying to confirm with what is projecting in the back.
“Aikawa-san, are you able to see them recently?”
“Since this spring.”
Firstly, Keito explained in detail how he came here.
About how he saw an old lady squatting on the ground and coming here together. When he carrying her on his back at that time, saying the word <<Chikako>>.
“I see. When Aikawa-san carried her on the back as well………”
“Does it have some kind of significant meaning?”
“I still don’t know.”
When she shook her head slightly,
“On behalf of that person, let me thank you for bringing her here.”
“Is this the place the granny wanted to come?”
It looks like Utaha knows the reason. However, Keito is in the dark as usual.
“Well then, where should we start from? No matter what I explain, I should start from the <<lost words>>.”
“Yes. Lost words. Not a lost child. Written as ‘lost’, lost words.”
“It looks like a specter though.”
Keito looked towards at the standing old lady. Keito called them <<shadows>> in his mind, but it’s more appropriate to label their existence as ghost because they vanish and materializes.
“Of course it is obvious to think of them as ghost. However, we don’t call them ghost but rather words that were lost, <<lost words>> which are different from spirits.
“Words that were lost?…………..I don’t get it.”
“Aikawa-san, do you know the words ‘spirits of words’?”
“Spirits of words?”
“Yes. the words’ spirits and soul, in other words the language of the soul. There is an old thinking that there are spirits dwelling inside of words. There is a nearby example that is called taboo words.Would you say to a student preparing for an examination to not use the words drop, fail or lose?”
“Because it is inauspicious right?”
“The idea that is a bad luck is a kind of language of the soul. Even if you have no choice but to talk about failing an exam, saying you fell down from the stairs, slipped on the floor and the cherry blossoms will have fallen is not good.
What you say can become a reality. This shows the power stored in words.
In olden times, Yamanoue Okura had presented in『Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves』with this poem
『It has been recounted
down through time
since the age of gods
that this land of Yamato
is a land of imperial deities
a land blessed by the spirits of words.』
Yamato, in other words Japan is a auspicious country which is brought by the spirits of words.”
Keito was overwhelmed by Utaha’s knowledge and the way she is able to recite the poem smoothly. He don’t hate reading books and knows that to some extend but reciting is challenging.
“Utaha-san, you just recited a poem, but what does that mean?”
<<When the east wind blows,
flourish in full bloom,
you plum blossoms!
Even though you lose your master
don’t be oblivious to spring.>>
When Utaha recited that poem, Keito had definitely felt the smell, wind and the indication of spring. It is as if Utaha herself had brought forward spring.
Is that a kind of a spirit of words? It seems like there is power dwelling in her words.
“This is a poem written by Sugawara Michizane when he left for Daizaifu by demotion. Do you know about Michizane?”
“The god of learning right?”
Sugawa Michizane was a aristocrat from the Heian period, a scholar that is excellent at writing books and composing poems and a politician who was appointed to a responsible post by the Emperor of that time. However, his political opponents were jealous of him and suffering a defamation, he was exiled to modern day Dazaifu, Fukuoka. After dying, he became a ghost who was afraid of divine punishment. Nowadays he is been worshiped as Tenjin-sama, the god of learning nationwide.
As he was explaining it to her,
“You sure have been studying a lot, Aikawa-san.”
“I just learned it from a friend who likes to read books. It’s nothing compared to you, Utaha-san.”
A girl’s face came into Keito’s mind.
“When Michizane left his home that he is used to living in, he read a poem about saying farewell to his beloved plum tree in the courtyard. If the wind is blowing from the east in spring, he wants the winds to carry that scent all the way to Dazaifu. To not forget about spring even if he is not there. That was the desire that was place into. Thus the plum tress who had followed its master, is still being left there till today in Dazaifu Tenman-gu, Fukuoka, I also wanted to share this folklore, that is the reason for the good luck charm.”
“Good luck charm?”
“Yes. This are the lost words I would give first. I will definitely sent you off in one piece, you will be able to express your feelings and it will be able to reach that desired person like a plum, no matter how far you are.”
“Who are you sending off? What are lost words in the first place?”
“Lost words are something anyone can utter. It is the words that holds strong powers such as thoughts, wishes, and prayers but essentially didn’t reach to that person who should have heard it. Those words that was not delivered ended up wandering about in the form of that person.
Keito was unable to reply her because of that unbelievable explanation.
“Aikawa-san, I am a <<messenger>>.
TL: Dazaifu (太宰府市) is a city located in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
TL: The actual poem is 『神代より 言ひ伝て来らく そらみつ 大和の国は 皇神の 厳しき国 言霊の 幸はふ国と 語り継ぎ 言ひ継がひけり』. The translation is done by someone called Ian Hideo Levy.
TL: Yamanoue no Okura (山上 憶良) (660–733) was a Japanese poet, the best known for his poems of children and commoners. He was a member of Japanese missions to Tang China. He was also a contributor to the Man’yōshū and his writing had a strong Chinese influence. Unlike other Japanese poetry of the time, his work emphasizes a morality based on the teachings of Confucius.
TL: 『Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves』(万葉集 Manyoshu) is the oldest extant collection of Japanese waka (poetry in Classical Japanese),[a] compiled sometime after AD 759 during the Nara period.
TL: ‘spirits of words’ refers to kotodama(言霊), mystical powers that dwell in words and names. Well, just think of a mage that needs to say an incantation before casting a spell. Dunno a good name for it though, any better ideas?