A boy with marmots

In this memory, I’m nine years old. One hot summer day, I’m sitting in the hallway playing with marbles. Next to me is my father, sprawled on the floor reading a book. We are both waiting for our guests to arrive.

Today, my father’s good old friend will be visiting us from Tokyo with his whole family. I’m excited to meet his two children who are close to my age. The last time we met was a few years ago, but it feels like a long time has passed. They might have changed a lot since then.

My mother left home to pick them up from the train station about an hour ago, but she hasn’t come back yet.

“When are they arriving?” I ask my father for what feels like the hundredth time.

“I don’t know,” replies my father without removing his eyes from the book. “All I can say is that they are late.”

I return my gaze to the marbles. Placing them neatly along the gap between the floorboards, I think about the animals our guests are bringing with them. Something called marmots. My mother has told them the marmots can stay in our tiny balcony.

“What is a marmot?” I ask my father.

“It’s a rodent.”

“Like a hamster?” I recall the tiny animal I’ve seen at my friends’ houses.

“Yes, but marmots are much bigger.”

“How big?”

Just then, the hallway vibrates with the sound of wheels entering the garage. The engine sound stops, the car doors shut loudly, and the bell rings at the front door.

“Come in!” shouts my father, scrambling to his feet. “It’s open!”

What happens next is like a picture. The door opens, and the face of a little boy of my age appears. Held in his arms is a large basket of marmots.


The blue marbles scatter across the floor as I stand up. The promise of a great adventure has replaced the anxiety I’ve had about the reunion, and I’m eager to get started.