When I was 19 years old, I lived in Tokyo attending a special school designed for university entrance exam preparation. It was my first year living on my own away from my hometown.
For most of that year, I made myself busy every day studying the material from morning until night. But in the summer, I took a one night trip to my maternal grandmother’s house by train. It was located in a countryside only two hours train ride from Tokyo.
Since my childhood, I used to visit her house at least twice a year with my mother, and sometimes with both of my parents. But it was the first time I visited her just by myself.
As the familiar scenery of green rice fields spread in front of my eyes and I heard the familiar dialect of the local people on the train, I started to feel as if travelling back in time.
My uncle picked me up from the station, and when we reached the door, my grandmother welcomed me as she always used to do.
After having tea and seasonal treat in the dining room (my grandmother and her family always had a selection of treat for any guest), I joined my grandmother in her vegetable farm. She was going to plant some potatoes that day.
In front of my curious eyes, my grandmother brought a bag of old potatoes and started to chop them into half using an old kitchen knife. I was fascinated. Soon, she let me cut the potatoes, too. We then planted these half potatoes in the rows of soil she had already prepared for us.
In the evening, after dinner, I was organizing my belongings in the guest room when the door slowly opened and my grandmother’s face appeared. “Are you already sleeping?” She asked me. When I shook my head, she invited me to her room right next to mine.
Her room was not small, but because of all the things she kept in the room, it always felt tiny. We both sat on her bed side by side, and my grandmother started to show me one of her albums.
It was an album of her senior circle, and she explained to me in detail who each person was and shared the memories she had with them. I eagerly listened to her, and asked her many questions about her friends and the stories she told me about them.
After some time, I started to feel sleepy. It must have already been late in the night. But since I really wanted the time to last longer, I pushed my eyes open, trying not to show my grandmother that I was about to fall asleep.
However, soon, I couldn’t resist it anymore. I started to nod as I drifted between consciousness and sleep. My grandmother noticed it, and smiled. “You’re sleeping. Let’s stop here tonight.” She saw me off to the guest room, closed the light, and said good night before closing the door.
That evening in my grandmother’s room carries a special weight in my memory. The following summer, she started to have a memory confusion, and we could no longer continue the conversation we had that evening.
Several days later my visit, my mother thanked me during our regular phone call. When I asked her what she was thanking me for, she replied, “for spending time with your grandmother. She called me and said that she really enjoyed talking with you. She said she had a lot of fun especially in the night.” I couldn’t help but smile.