Spūtoniku no koibito, Kodansha Ltd, Tokyo 1999
Translated by Philip Gabriel
Vintage, London 2002
The upshot of all this is that when I was young I began to draw an invisible boundary between myself and other people. No matter who I was dealing with. I maintained a set distance, carefully monitoring the person’s attitude so that they wouldn’t get any closer. I didn’t easily swallow what other people told me. My only passions were books and music. As you might guess, I led a lonely life.
"You’re shipwrecked, washed up on a desert island. Only you and a cat made it to the lifeboat. You drift for a while and end up on this island, just a rocky island with nothing you can eat. No water, either. In your lifeboat you have ten days’ worth of biscuits and water for one person, and that’s it. That’s how the story went."
"The nun looked all around the auditorium and she said this in a strong, clear voice. ‘Close your eyes and imagine this scene. You’re washed up on a deserted island with a cat. This is a solitary island in the middle of nowhere. It’s almost impossible that someone would rescue you within ten days. When your food and water run out, you may very well die. Well, what would you do? Since the cat is suffering as you are, should you divide you meagre food with it?’ The sister was silent again and looked at all our faces. ‘No. That would be a mistake,’ she continued. ‘I want you to understand that dividing your food with a cat would be wrong. The reason being that you are precious beings, chosen by God, and the cat is not. That’s why you should eat all the food yourself.’ The nun had this terribly serious look on her face."
"At first I thought it was some kind of joke. I was waiting for the punchline. But there wasn’t one. She turned her talk to the subject of human dignity and worth, and it all went over my head. I mean, really, what was the point of telling that kind of story to kids who’d just entered the school? I couldn’t figure it out – and I still can’t."
I loved Sumire more than anyone else and wanted her more than anything in the world. And I couldn’t just shelve those feelings, for there was nothing to take their place.
I dreamed that someday there’d be a sudden, major transformation. Even if the chances of it coming true were slim, I could dream about it, couldn’t I? But I knew it would never come true.