A few weeks ago, my 75-year-old landlady passed me a piece of newspaper cutout that was written by Japanese actress Shinobu Otake and told me “ii bunsho da yo -it’s a really good piece of article”. The title maaiika means “yeah, I guess it’s gonna be alright” a rather casual slang used by the Japanese to express their stoicism when confronted with a difficult situation. I tried googling if there were any translations of the article on the internet but apparently there weren’t any so in a dose of inspiration, here I’ve decided to do a simple translation and post it here on my blog.
Yeah, I guess it’s gonna be alright
Dusk was falling. As I was about to step into the bathtub in my house, it suddenly dawned upon me that I was beginning to resemble more and more like my own mother. The way I washed myself, the angle in which I tilted my head and how I expressed myself reminded me of a time when mom was much younger.
When I was in elementary school, dad had poor health and was moving back and forth to the hospital during the seven years. So mom had to become the breadwinner of the family, while at the same time taking care of the five of us. I could still remember the time when she commanded us to bathe together with her in the ofuro (Japanese bathtub). She would strictly instruct us to immerse our full body into the water, saying, “And remember to count from 1 to 10 before getting up!”
Then in an orderly manner, she would help us scrub our backs while not forgetting to scrub herself too. During this time, mom’s face seemed to exhibit a sign of anxiety. Obviously, she was worried about dad’s health; she was concerned about our studies; and perhaps she was planning about what to accomplish during the following days and how to make through all of them.
Her distressing look during that time was vividly imprinted in my memory. Today mom is 93 years old and although she neither need to worry much about the ups and downs of the future nor the routines of daily life, she does face a new hardship. Now she constantly finds herself struggling to recall recent events and occasionally saying “okaerinasai” meaning “welcome back” again and again to our daughter after she got back from school. Our daughter would oftentimes giggle and tell her, “Grandma, you’re repeating yourself again”.
One day, we decided to go to a friend’s sushi bar to celebrate my son’s birthday. It has been a while since we last went out for dinner together. What a coincidence! A professional opera singer was seated next to our table and as luck would have it, she was so kind to sing us “Tanti auguri a te”– the Italian version of Happy Birthday Song. Everyone was so impressed by her sweet gifted voice,
and out of the blue, mom who was typically shy and reserved was seen for the first time laughing and clapping out loud.
She was in fact elated.
The following day, when my son came back late for his dinner, he said, “Something extraordinary happened today. When I was about to leave for work in the morning, grandma actually told me, ‘Last night was fun wasn’t it?’”
We were a bit taken aback. My daughter and I both exclaimed,
“Wow, so she remembered what happened last night? That’s amazing.”
The three of us looked at one another and smiled. There was a sudden air of joy and appreciation. Today, mom no longer need to worry about the past and future and that’s good for her. But we realized that there’s something more important than that. Mom was able to recall yesterday’s event, mainly because it was an happy event,
We silently vowed and agreed. “Yes from today onwards, we are going to create more happy memories for her”.
This piece of translation is dedicated to my late grandma’, who taught me much about love and peace. Special thanks to Datuk Seri Dr. Victor Wee for proofreading.