I owe so much to my mother but it's a pity I cannot recall
myself being nice to her so often. When I was five years old,
she gave me a short story book. It was a pathetic love story
of a teenage couple in a foreign country. They were called
Romeo and Juliet but the story had nothing to do with that of
Shakespeare. They were travelling by ocean but one day the ship
was overtaken by a huge storm and soon it was about to sink.
A life boat came but it has a room only for one person. Romeo
forced Juliet to take the boat and he himself remained on the
wrecking ship. The last scene was described by Juliet's eye. I cried
and cried and for a long time I could recite the last few lines. It was
amazing that such a story was read in Japan during the war.
To celebrate my entrance to the elementary school, my mother
gave me a poetry book witten by Emperor Meiji. I vividly remember its
deep green cover. Then Kitahara Hakushu(Poet), Hermann Hesse,
Hyakunin-Isshu(One Hundred Poems) etc, etc.
She was ill throughout her life and stayed in a hospital for a long
time but her brain did not lose its sharpness till she died. I did not
visit her hospital often but when I did, we talked about many things-
not only literature or art but even about the latest world affairs.
I wish I had been nicer to her, even a little bit.