Kiren asked me what I was doing, sitting in the middle of a road.
I’m practising Zazen, turning native, stopping traffic. You know, just being me- I replied.
Zazen is ‘Sitting Meditation’. Since arriving, this practice seems to be enveloping me.
I’m a person that needs to move, take long walks. But here in Japan, the culture is like quicksand, drawing me in. Somehow amidst all the frenzy of Tokyo, and now on this most magical island, there is a stillness that is louder than sound, rendering me mute.
Sitting without speech, I hear my father’s voice- Ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi, ku, ju, teaching me to count. Namae-wa, Tammy-desu! My name is Tammy. Minna-san, minna-san, konbanwa! Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening!
The Mid-Autumn Festival Celebrations. I am 7, my brother 6. A fancy dress competition for all new residents at Neptune Court, Marine Vista.
Tammy-chan wa, ichi-ban desu ne! Tammy is number 1- my father once, so proud of me.
Kore wa hon desu. This is a book. Sore wa kudamono desu. That is fruit.
Onaka ga suita? Are you hungry? Eric is shy. Can I take your picture? Eric is bold.
Anata wa Nihon-jin desu ka? Are you Japanese? I have been asked this all my life. Nihongo dekiru? Do you speak Japanese? Mrs Otake, Mrs Nakamura, Mr Takahachi asked, asked, asked me.
Experience arimasu ka? Do you have any experience… Omutsu o henko suru hoho o shitte imasu ka? Do you know how to change a diaper? Tammy-chan, totemo kawaii desu ne… Tammy, you are really pretty… Shikashi, anata wa o kirei ni suru koto ga dekimasu ka? But, can you wash the bathroom?
Hai. Dekimasu. Yes, I can. Jikan ii desu. The time works. Kinyobi wa, kimasu. I will come on Friday.
Every time we eat in a Japanese restaurant, I think of you coming home so late at night, smelling of soya sauce.. I don’t ever want you to do that again.
Has twenty years really just passed?
I sit, facing the sea- Zazen.
I empty my mind.
The memories come, flooding.