Yet no matter how softly it falls, rain is never silent.
Master Series : Sounds of Rain
A Modern Japanese Kaidan*
original story copyrighted by author @ syarecowa.moo.jp
translation copyrighted by M. L. Mills, 2010
It was the end of Fall in my second year at university.
Since morning the rain had continued to fall. The asphalt surface of the road was blurred with a light mist. This was the kind of day that made one depressed. Emotions ran stagnant. Thoughts turned deeply inward.
On my right was a river. The area past the white guardrail was also faintly misted over. Only the clock-like ticking sound of the car hazard lights echoed with terrible loudness.
That sound alone became the rhythm of the world.
Everything was built upon that rhythm.
I looked to the river once more.
The rain fell down on this side of the guard rail. The same rain washed down on the other side.
Raindrops falling on the road.
Raindrops falling on the river.
Looking up - even from a height of several hundred meters - the rain fell gently from a dark, low sky.
Yet once they reached the ground, their destiny was divided by a difference of only a few mere centimeters.
I found this imagery oddly humorous and mentioned it to the driver who was sitting next to me with his chin propped upon his hand. His responded reluctantly.
“A metaphor for This world and the Other? For certain there is only that much difference between them – this and that. Yet whether the rain seeps into the ground or flows down the river, in either case it finds its way to the sea.”
The sea as described by my 'master' (the one who taught me about all things occult) was mostly likely identical to the idea of nothingness. He did not accept the existence of a world after death. By 'a world after death' here I mean places outside this earthly world like Hell or Heaven. I never understood why he didn't accept them. But it is without a doubt that he unwaveringly did not believe in them.
It was still a little early for dusk.
I and the 'master' sat in the car on the shoulder of the road waiting for eternity. Apparently, he had seen something interesting here the last time it had rained.
“There's a good rain coming down.”
With those words he called me out and so now here I sit.
Waiting, as if we were on a police stakeout.
Thinking of that, I bit off a piece of azuki snack cake and downed a pack of milk. On the right-hand side was a vacant lot where someone's discarded unicycle laid in the grass beaten on by the rain. No one passed by us.
From out of nowhere, the 'master' offered a creepy supposition.
“Just suppose for a moment, there is a child who from birth grew up in a basement. Would that child not know of the 'rain' until they had been outside of the basement and experienced it for themselves? The history of rain is older than that of fire. From the time humans were apes... No, even before then... Do not all the beings living on this earth carry with them the memory of rain? Is what I think. Somewhere deep down in their DNA.”
Having said that he fished around in the convenience store plastic bag. Even though there was nothing left but the azuki snack cakes he wouldn't give up and kept rummaging around. And he's the one who had bought only azuki snack cakes.
The memory of rain?
Once again, my thoughts turned deeply inward
Animals innately have the ability to distinguish what is dangerous to themselves. Also, the ability to know what they should hunt. When they run into those things, the reaction recorded in their DNA occurs. For the more primaeval lifeforms that would be reactions to light and water.
In the same way, can we say that sleeping deep within our bodies is a reaction to the rain that we are born with?
A memory unbroken, inherited from the dizzying ages past.
I tried to recall the first time I had experienced the rain. Naturally, I don't remember such a thing.
I wanted to call out and ask, “How was your first rain?”
But certainly no one can answer. Yet it is something everyone has experienced.
For some reason, I found that amusing.
I tried to search through my memory once more.
The scent of rain is always nostalgic. I wonder where that sense of nostalgia comes from.
Thinking on these idle thoughts, I was suddenly returned to reality with the master's yawning.
At the far end of the road blurred by streaks of rain, a shadowy figure appeared.
The master wiped off the cloudy front windshield with his sleeve. I strained my eyes and stared hard into the space before us.
A red umbrella came into view.
Following that, the figure of a woman holding the umbrella handle appeared. I couldn't see as far as her expression. She was probably in her thirties. At least she seemed to be from her clothing style. And there was something unpleasant about her. Immediately, I came upon the reason for my dislike.
Right behind the woman walking with the umbrella followed a girl of five or six.
Light pink shoes. A yellow cap.
If it wasn't for the rain, they would have been the image of a typical mother and child.
But this scene was not... typical.
A woman with an umbrella.
Walking about one meter behind her head hung down, a child with no umbrella.
There would be nothing unusual if they were huddled close together under the umbrella.
A mere one meter's separation and it was as if they stood in This world and That.
“Must be the rain. I can't pick up anything.”, said the master as peered intently at the two.
Finally, they passed by the side of the car and once again disappeared like a mist dissolving into the rain.
“You think they were living?”, he asked me.
I didn't know.
He didn't seem to know either.
We couldn't see their shapes anymore.
I put back my seat and reached out my hand to wipe off the fogged rear-view window, but my hand stopped mid-air.
“The mother is flesh. The daughter is flesh.
The mother is flesh. The daughter is spirit.
The mother is spirit. The daughter is flesh.
The mothers is spirit. The daughter is spirit.”
He whispered to himself without much feeling mixed in.
In all cases, I found it sad.
For some reason, terribly sad.
I felt stifled for air and rolled down the passenger side window a little.
The fine, textured sound of the rain came into the car.
The clock-like measured ticking of the car hazard lights grew dimmer.
The Sound. The Scene. The Soul.
Every and all things were penetrated by the rain.
As if the world had become rain.
I wonder if at that time you knew that the first rain you will ever experience will one day end.
Suddenly I wanted to ask them all.
* Kaidan – a traditional Japanese “ghost” story usually involving the unexplainable, a flexible concepts of time and space, strange meetings, love gone wrong, the supernatural… Curious and sometimes terrifying stories, but never centered on nor featuring either gore or sex.
Original text story: http://syarecowa.moo.jp/177/14.html
Audio recording: http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm11325356
(Account with nicovideo required. Japanese only.)
Thanks for visiting!
Stay tuned and happy listening. (^_-)-☆
All translations copyrighted and owned by myself. All copyrights of their respective owners. No part of this web site may be produced, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the copyright owner.