Thursday, June 3, 2004

Water in Water

If it’s been 15 years since the Tiananmen Square massacre, then it’s been 5 years since I was in Beijing, shortly before the 10th anniversary. Which means it’s been 5 years since I was last in Asia, specifically Japan, my home for 2 years.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I determined that if it were not for the ESL job, leaving Japan would’ve been a mistake, something regrettable. Now I know that it wasn’t a mistake in the big picture. But I do miss it sometimes. Despite the hardships & loneliness, I was able to make it a magical place, especially after meeting Tetsuya & Jihad.

Thankfully, I’m still in touch with Tetsuya after all this time. But I haven’t heard from Jihad in several months. Perhaps he’s enjoying the North American dream somewhere in Canada now. Or maybe he’s still in Damascus. Who would ever believe there is such a sensitive & sweet boy named Jihad?


It’s always disorienting for me when I visit sites of tragedies: Tiananmen Square, the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, Hiroshima. In some ways, it’s like the feeling I got when I used to stand on the roof of my apartment in Shimonoseki and gaze at the stars: sheer insignificance. But this feeling was not defeatist in the least; instead, I felt consumed by something greater than me (history, life, the universe), a part of this vast thing that somehow added significance to my own meager life. This is also how I feel when I visit my family graves every Memorial Day.

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