She walks on a stick now. Her hair has turned gray, for the most part. I ask her how her leg had been healing. A complicated break, months ago already.
She’s officially handicapped now, she says. She has a certificate. Half-price on the Shinkansen, tax reductions, 10 percent off taxi fare, and so on. Not bad, she says. The irony in her voice is there, clear and loud. The bitterness is looming behind, perhaps only imagined.
She walks, slowly and gracefully. In about ten years, the plastic bone that she has in her leg now will have to be exchanged. Spare parts. So she travels a lot now. Now. As long as she still can, she says.
I also had these problems with my eyes, she says. You know. I nod. I remember. So now this. Perhaps I just don’t want to live, she says without a change of tone. The irony is there. The bitterness is absent. The fear is audible.
So now her husband has to do all sorts of things that she had been doing before, she says. Carry. Lift. He never did any carpenting. I always did the carpenting. Now he has to. He will, I say. He is the only Japanese man I ever saw doing the dishes, I think. Not that I entered many Japanese houses, mind you. One hardly ever does.
He, too, has more gray hair on his head now. He waves for a taxi, nervously, tired. It is only when the taxi has arrived that she leaves the building and gracefully walks towards it, with her beautifully carved walking stick. The taxi drives off. She turns around and looks out of the window. I’m waving. She waves back.