The last moment of life

It was years ago when I was still a busy college student in Tokyo. One hot and humid evening of summer, I was walking back home from the nearest train station.

It was already dark. Exhausted from the long day, I was focusing all my energy on moving my legs as fast as I could thinking solely of reaching home and enjoying some free time before going to bed.

I had come out of a dense residential area and just walked past two schools when I suddenly saw something shining on the street. I moved closer and bent down to see what it was.

The black shining object was a cicada. It was resting on the ground completely still. Since it was quite common to find a dead cicada on a street at this time of summer, I wanted to check if this one was also dead.

I gently placed my finger on the wing of the cicada. It moved. I quickly removed my finger from the insect.

Though this cicada was still alive, it was clear from the movement that its life was nearing the end. Perhaps this night was going to be its last night on earth. I crouched down, completely forgetting about my evening relaxation at home.

As I watched under the white street light, the cicada started to walk slowly on the ground. One step, then another step. Slowly, it made its way. Nobody knew where it was heading. But the way it walked – the careful and deliberate execution of its footwork and the dignity with which it moved forward – made me believe that it was heading somewhere with purpose and that it knew how to get there.

I don’t know how long I was crouching on the ground. When I finally stood up and resumed walking, my heart was trembling and I was captured by complete tranquility.

Since then, whenever summer arrives and I hear cicadas, I always think of that evening. With my eyes closed, I can still picture the cicada’s slow and deliberate march under the light and hear its faint footsteps.