When I was about nine, my maternal grandmother came to visit us during my spring school break. One evening, my mother, grandmother and I had finished dinner when the famous old Japanese TV drama series “Oshin” started to play on our family’s TV screen.
“Oshin” is a fictional story depicting the life of a woman who lived in the north region of Japan from the beginning until the end of 20th century, and it was originally aired in Japan in early 1980’s, years before I was born. But it was such a popular hit that the series was featured again and again on TV even many years later. Especially the first part which showed Oshin as a little girl was most popular, and it was often featured on its own. The one we saw that night on TV was Oshin’s childhood as well, shortened into three hours.
I had always wanted to watch this famous TV series, but had never had the luck. So, when “Oshin” started playing on our TV, I got excited. My mother tried to stop me, saying that my bedtime was approaching, but I didn’t move. And to my delight, my grandmother supported me. She said that I should watch it.
“This will be a great opportunity for her to learn about the time when I was growing up.”
Thus the two of us started watching the story while my mother washed the dishes in the back. In an attempt to distract my mother, I kept describing to her what I saw and felt as I watched the story. My strategy was successful, and I was able to enjoy “Oshin” for two hours. But when it was 11 pm, my mother finally told me that I had to go to bed.
“It’s getting late!” She said. “You must go to bed now!”
I still attempted to linger in front of the TV, brushing my teeth and changing into my pajamas until there was nothing else left for me to do. The story was getting more and more interesting. Oshin and the family she was working for had an issue, and I was eager to know how it was going to be resolved. But my mother didn’t allow me to stay any longer.
“Off you go!”
So, I reluctantly went up the stairs and lay down on my bedding. But I was in no mood of sleeping. I wanted to know what was happening to Oshin downstairs. It was such a shame that I couldn’t see the ending.
Next to my pillow, there was an old radio. Then I remembered that I could actually listen to the TV program on the radio.
I hurriedly tuned the radio to the TV channel that was featuring “Oshin”. Soon, I was back to Oshin’s world. It was difficult to follow all the details through the audio information only, but still, it was better than nothing.
Thus, I followed the last one hour of Oshin’s childhood story on the radio. The ending was emotional, and I couldn’t help crying. I was happy that I could follow the story to the end.
As I cried, I heard footsteps on the staircase. It was my mother. I quickly turned off the radio, threw my blanket over my face and pretended that I was asleep. But my mother wasn’t fooled so easily.
“You’re still awake, aren’t you?”
I removed my blanket from my face and looked at my mother.
“How did you know?”
“Because I know!”
Since there was no more use of hiding, I told her that I had followed Oshin’s story on the radio.
“The ending was so emotional, wasn’t it?” I said excitedly. “I cried.”
I saw my grandmother behind my mother. She looked delighted that I had enjoyed Oshin’s story and even followed the ending on the radio. But my mother chose to remain practical.
“It’s midnight. Now, you really have to sleep!”
“I will, I will.”
As they left, I closed my eyes and once again cherished the feeling I got from watching Oshin’s story that night. Then I finally fell asleep.