I. March 2019-1

February 2019 < > March 2019-2

1st March 2019

The new month has started, but my anger is still starving for something to incinerate. In my half-awake dream, I confess to GB Holdings that I haven’t actually left my previous office by my own volition. I see the Korean interviewer frowning.

“Oh, so your boss has decided not to extend your contract, you mean?”

“No!” I shake my head hard and my brain moves inside the skull. “Everything is wrong! Why must I tell a lie during my job interview?” I shout. “I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve always worked hard. Why did I have to be dismissed? Why?”

I got up from my bed, sweating.

All right. Just eat breakfast, wash clothes and put them out on the balcony, make a cup of cocoa and settle at the table… Four months ago, I repeatedly talked myself through the same process. When I didn’t know how to live day to day with the reality that my dog Ana no longer existed in this world, I just programmed myself. Have breakfast, wash clothes and put them out on the balcony…

Unlike when Ana left me, I’m not crying or experiencing depression now. My brain is rather hyperactive and I can probably keep walking to the end of the world. I remember my high school teacher’s saying: “You don’t cry when you lose the game. You cry when you completely give in.” Perhaps I haven’t given in yet.

Until the evening, I sat at my low table doing my job search. Though the Korean company had given me a job offer, I didn’t feel secure yet. I never forgot about what had happened to Nelson N.

It’s Friday, but I didn’t feel like enjoying the casual ballet class in the gym.

“I’m not going to the gym today either,” I wrote to Ami on Skype. “I don’t want to do anything fun until I’m settled in my next workplace.”

“Your instructor must be worried,” said Ami. “He must be wondering what’s happened to you.”

She is always like my cheerleader.

“He wouldn’t notice that I’m not there,” I said, despite my wish that Ami was right. “Thirty people attend the class, and I’m still new there. He even doesn’t remember my existence.”

“I don’t think so,”Ami disagreed.

She knows that I’m the worst dancer in the class. I have a very inflexible body, zero dancing experience and awful rhythmic sense. When I was practicing grand battements in my parents’ house, dad asked me if I had started learning karate kicking. Still, Ami keeps saying that my instructor must be amused by seeing me trying to imitate the other ballerinas.

“Teachers like hard-working students, no matter how bad they are,” my friend said. “Go to the gym next week, OK? He is waiting for you.”

He is waiting for me…?

This unrealistic thought had magical power to make me look forward.


2nd March 2019

Job advertisements are not usually updated at the weekends. Instead of reading the same job descriptions hundreds of times, I decided to go out.

Seiyu Ogikubo, the local shopping centre, was crowded with many weekend shoppers. Since I had turned off my fridge, the first floor, where dried food was sold, had become my main hunting area. Dried udon noodles, rice cakes, seaweeds, canned beans and biscuits; the cashier might think that I was preparing for a big earthquake.

After getting the groceries, I went up to the pet shop in the 6th floor to see the lovebirds. These poor captured birds somehow healed my wound. I could stand there, admiring their pretty colours for hours.

A family came to see the animals, so I left to give them some space. When you are a middle-aged, single, jobless woman, you might feel like avoiding happy families. Though this wasn’t the first time I had been unemployed, I hadn’t prepared for these empty days.

Could I actually have predicted my dismissal?

I had already asked this pointless question to myself thousands of times. Last October, I was called by Fred and Karen, the sales manager, and told how to respond to the candidates who asked for Jim on the phone.

“No, you don’t say that he is no longer in the office,” instructed Fred.

“Just tell them you’ll get another recruiter for them, OK?” Karen added in her usual bossy tone.

“This time, I was asked if Jim has resigned from this company, because the candidate had already been transferred to the other recruiters. She wanted to talk with Jim, not with the others. What should I have answered to the candidate then?” was my question.

Fred wrinkled his eyebrows. “Megu, you do not say that Jim has resigned,” said the director in this emotionless voice, “because he did not resign.”

What? Jim did leave the office last month. I had cancelled his social insurance already.

“Jim did not resign, OK? I did not extend his contract,” was what the director meant. “I decided that he wasn’t performing well as a recruiter. So I, I, did not extend his employment contract.” Fred reiterated this fact two more times, emphasizing the “I”.

Obviously, this wasn’t the point. Candidates were not asking “how” Jim had left the company. What they wanted to know was if the recruiter was still available and if they could reach out to him.

“So, should I tell the candidates that Jim has left the office because his contract was not extended by you?”

Undoubtedly, this question was blocked by my tight throat. I didn’t want to see Fred’s potato-shaped head turning pinker. Besides, I feared his oddly tense face when he repeated that “I did not extend…” It sounded as though he had been rejected millions of times throughout his life and he must make it clear that he was the one who had ended the relationship this time.

Or it might just have been a warning to me. Fred might have wanted to show off his power that we were just his servants who could be easily dismissed at his whim.

Leaving Seiyu, I walked on the usual street toward my one-room apartment. Without a reason, I knew that even if I had predicted my dismissal, I would have lived the same 18th February.


3rd March 2019

It’s Little Girls’ Day in Japan. According to Rica, our dad still puts Hina dolls on the piano for the day. No wonder that two of his three daughters are still single in their late 30s.

I’ve received inquiries from five people about my microwave on Jimoty. One is coming to buy it next week. I’ve also browsed Rakuten online for a plate cupboard. The cupboard has to have glass doors to show the jars inside. Picturing my new kitchen is a good distraction from my anxiety these days.

“I’m just wondering if you have any empty glass jars,” I sent a LINE message to my friend Keiji, who owned a small Yakitori shop in the neighbouring town, Takaido.

“I have some, but they might not have lids. What do you want to use them for?” asked Keiji curiously.

“I’ll make some pickles in the jars,” I explained. “I need many jars because they’re going to be my new food containers after someone takes my fridge away.”

“What do you mean by that, after someone takes your fridge away?”

I smiled, depicting his perplexed face. I remember how he looked when he found out that I had been living without a washing machine for over fifteen years. I wash my clothes in the bathtub every day.

“Have you got a bigger fridge—, Oh no! You’re going to live without a fridge, correct?”

“You know me!”


Why not? There must be many people in the world who live without a fridge. And I’m sure that Keiji’s parents lived without any electrical devices, as he is around my father’s age.

“Well, I’ve been a little bored recently,” I replied. I didn’t want to tell him about my dismissal. “So I want to change the view of my kitchen.”

There was a pause in our LINE chat. I could almost see him shaking his head, telling his wife that Megu has taken up another peculiar habit. I can’t wait for the day when I impress him with my shining kitchen cupboard.

In the evening, I went out to Seiyu, though I had nothing to buy. I hope I’m not remembered by anyone there, as I always wear the same down jacket and beanie. I now understand those people who make themselves at home in warm department stores every day without buying anything and annoy the store clerks. We shouldn’t stay home alone all day every day.

4th March 2019

Heavy rain started in the morning. I went to two companies for job interviews and they turned out to be utterly contrasting theatres, like scenes from plays starring two different actresses. Though my throat was no longer sore, it was blocked tightly in front of the three stern-faced interviewers at the first interview. I stammered several times and almost wished the interviewers would break their composure and laugh. Honestly, I didn’t understand how they managed to keep straight faces, hearing my amazing cicada imitation.

The interviewer at the second company was the opposite. He made me relax with his warm smile and showed his interest in my opinions. As a result, our talk exceeded the scheduled time.

I came home exhausted. Hanging up my wet business suit to dry, I imagined how an actress might feel after a play. Seriously, I didn’t know which one was the real Megu; the timorous stutterer or the confident talker. I felt as if both were merely roles which I only played when on the stage.

5th March 2019

I’ve found out that the Golden Box Holdings office address in Shinjuku does not exist.

“Our Tokyo branch is a start-up company,” Mr Hon, my future boss in GB replied to my question. “We are looking at some office buildings in central Tokyo at the moment.”

I was excited to hear the word, “start-up” as I liked creating and learning things my own way. At the same time, I realized I shouldn’t rely on this not yet established company.

There was one new message in my email box. I had actually been ignoring it since this morning, as I had thought it was from Miyo. Her emails had disappointed me many times while I had been expecting a job offer from my future employer. But this message was from the company which I had visited yesterday afternoon. They offered me a position as an AI consulting assistant!

I felt as if I had turned a wrong corner and reached someone else’s home by mistake.

“I really enjoyed the talk with you yesterday. Your cheerful and positive personality would be valued in our sales team,” the email said.

Two voices started to argue in my mind. One said, “Don’t take the offer. You’ve been mistaken for an outgoing person without a stutter.” Another one said, “Take the offer now and your ordeal will be over!” Recalling the interview, I had come over as a confident person, because of the friendly interviewer. “Don’t go there. They will find out your speech problem soon.” My intuition agreed with this timorous voice.

After I decided to decline the offer, I asked for Rica’s support. But her response wasn’t the one I wanted. “You should have accepted the offer. You never know if you’ll be offered a permanent position again at our age.” She is right. I have seen many job advertisements which state that the qualified candidate must be under 35 years old.

When I was in ITCM, we received a questionnaire from Tokyo labour bureau. The questions were like, “Does the company discriminate against older job applicants?” Companies have to pay aged-care insurance fee for the employees who are over 40 years old in Japan. Fred was somewhat annoyed by the inquiry and he directed, “Why don’t you and Miyo answer these questions yourself, instead of asking me?” We ended up asking Yumi to fill in the questionnaire, because we, at least I, had no idea how our recruiters were working there under the direction of Fred and Karen.

“Fred expects us to respond to the government correctly,” Miyo interpreted. “He is saying we should make the document look good to meet their standard.”

I couldn’t help laughing. Employers do choose their employees because of their age, sex, personality test results etc. They can give fair reasons such as the balance with the other staff members, the target customer generation or simply the candidate’s work experience, even if they actually wanted someone who was meek and easily managed. Job seekers also choose their employers for their own reasons. No one, not even our government, can control this. I can’t pretend that I don’t have a speech problem, no matter how deeply I wish so, and it greatly affects my choice of workplaces.

I heaved a deep sigh. I’ll go back to the corner where I had taken a wrong turn and keep walking on my feet, which are chained to the weight of my stutter.

6th March 2019

On my laptop computer, I watched a documentary about refugees and asylum seekers to remind myself how lucky I am. The video producer wouldn’t have made it for this purpose, but every time I see people suffering from awful daily lives in the world, I feel grateful for my current life. I live in a clean, cosy room, I can eat delicious food every day and I have family and friends. Even though I’m a single woman, no one forces me to marry a fat, old stranger in my country.

“Don’t say no this time. I’m introducing a very attractive man to you.” The text message from my older sister Keiko just popped into my in-box. “He’s got quite a good sense of humour. He’s been travelling around the world, and he is rich.”

Keiko didn’t know that I was a job seeker now. She seemingly didn’t know that I wasn’t particularly interested in humorous, rich men either.

“Sorry, I don’t feel like meeting anyone now,” I replied immediately.

“But you know, mum and dad are worried about you. Don’t forget you’re getting older. Are you going to visit them on mum’s birthday next month?” Keiko is only two years older than me, but she sounds as if she’s twenty years senior, especially after she married.

“I don’t think so. I can’t imagine the house without Ana.” Since our dog died last November, I haven’t visited my parents’ house in Hino.

“Ha! Megu, you’re still saying that. Look at mum and dad. They lived with Ana every day in the same house. Their sorrow must be deeper than yours, but they are moving on positively.”

I threw my mobile phone on the bed and left the room. I’m glad that Keiko lives in Yokohama, far from here.

Walking on the street aimlessly toward Takaido, I thought of the detainees in the immigrant detention centre in the documentary. Their eyes reflected only uncertainty and anxiety. I’m probably used to the videos and watch them as if they are happening on another planet or they are fiction movies. I don’t know why I can’t admire the reporters, who would return to their good lives soon after showing us those awful worlds, as much as I used to. We can never truly understand other people until we are in their position.

I remember the betrayed look of Ash, who was suddenly dismissed by ITCM in August 2018 for what he had done on the client site. He apologised hundreds of times, saying he wasn’t aware that his data handling was forbidden by the client’s security rule. Sree, Ash’s replacement, was fired for exactly the same reason, for breaking the security rule. No one questioned ITCM about their responsibility for staff training or the client’s ability to explain their rules. No one cared about the life of the dismissed workers and their families. I felt sorry for them, but I couldn’t do anything.

Was I not just seeing them as if I was watching a documentary that time?


7th March 2019

I walked to the government unemployment support office, Hello Work, in Amanuma.

“You’re looking for an office administration job, right?” the silver-haired counsellor asked, checking my CV at the desk. “Any other things you would expect at your next workplace?”

“Um…I’d like to work for a company that doesn’t treat the workers as their business tools.”

The counsellor raised her quizzical face, so I went on.

“I’ve got my current job through Hello Work. My working conditions are exactly what the job description said and I have no complaint. But I’ve seen many workers being dismissed without a fair reason there.”

Stop it now! I urged myself. I came here for a job search, didn’t I? But my complaint oozed out.

“I like my job there, but seeing many workers being treated badly is terrible.”

Why can’t I say that I was harshly dismissed as well? Am I thinking that I’m different from the others and I shouldn’t be given the disgraceful title, “the dismissed”?

The first staff dismissal I witnessed happened in September 2016, only two months after I had started to work for ITCM.

“The client’s project has been completed. Fred says they all have to leave.” Miyo sounded as if she was just telling me to empty a rubbish bin because it had become full. “Don’t worry. They understand that their contractor’s position is unstable.”

Despite her words, what I saw was the shocked faces of four employees, Nick, Alf, Jon and Quinn.

Because it’s only the sixth month of their one-year contract, employees should be given at least 30 days’ dismissal notice or paid for the next 30 days if they are suddenly dismissed. AFTUS, who had just begun working with us, promptly advised that. When I passed this advice to my managers, they said they had never given such a benefit to the dismissed workers before.

“IT engineers change their job frequently. They will find the next one soon,” Miyo assured me. But later I learned that Nick had gone back to his country, being unable to find his next work-visa sponsor before his current visa expired. Alf couldn’t find a job for three months, though he had two small children. Jon ended up working in a hotel as a kitchen help, hoping to go back to the IT industry in the future. Only Quinn seemed to have smoothly found his next job as an IT engineer.

“Well, there is one thing I can do,” offered the Hello Work counsellor. “I can record your experience in ITCM and warn job seekers who are interested in the company in the future.”

“Just for their information,” I nodded. “That would be nice.”

While she was inputting my report in their ITCM database, Miyo’s voice was recalled in my mind. “Don’t be pathetic. It’s natural that companies see their workers as their business tools. So do the workers. They quit as soon as they receive a better offer from another company.”

I looked around the unemployment support office. There were quite a few people facing the PC screens while looking for jobs; a somewhat depressing scene. They never looked like they had left their company at their convenience for a better opportunity. At least, I had not.


8th March 2019

My period started last night. Strong pain might be coming as my mental condition has been at its worst this month. The last time I had acute period pain was April last year, though I hadn’t had any anxiety that time. I lay down on the floor and bore the agony for an hour. I went to a gynaecology clinic, but as always, no problem was found in my womb.

“Do you have any stress or anxiety in your daily life?” The doctor saw my thin, nervous face as if getting the answer from it. Doctors say, “Try not to worry, because the stress makes the pain worse,” but I always let my brain worry as much as it wants and prepare for the worst pain.

While I was being worried, I worked on my kitchen project all the morning. I had received an inquiry about my fridge on Jimoty, but I had to decline the delivery request. For now, my life without a fridge was going smoothly. Broccoli turned slightly yellow after five days and fresh chicken could be kept without any rotten smell for three days in a jar with chopped garlic and salt.

“But the summer will be a challenge,” I wrote to Kim and we started to chat on Skype. After telling her about my no-fridge life, I also told her how my job hunt was going. “I’ve got a question list from a job agency for the interview next Monday.”

“Questions like where do you see yourself in five years?” asked Kim.

I chuckled because the question was indeed on the list. “Yes, I have to prepare the answer. The agency has given me some suggestions.” It’s troublesome. In fact, I have never worked for a company as long as five years.

“Preparing the answer is just like preparing to lie,” Kim said.

I agree. What’s the point of the role play? Perhaps I should stop reading the advice sheet from Michelle Layne.

Despite my worry, I had hardly any period pain until the evening. This is why I don’t trust what doctors sometimes say about “stress”. I felt happy and decided to go to Onami sports club.

Kumiko found me in the gym studio and widened her already large eyes.

“How have you been? We haven’t seen you for a while.”

“I caught a cold,” I said, “and I’ve also been a bit busy with my job search.”

“So you have decided to leave the company?” Kumiko knew that I’d been in a dispute with the ITCM managers.

“Yes, my last day there is the end of this month.”

“Decided to leave” sounds way cooler than “was dismissed”, right? I can never say that I was kicked out by my director to these elegant ballerinas. Their feminine leotards and smooth movements were like colourful petals fluttering in the breeze. I wish I were a beautiful dancer, and I would dress like them instead of this jogging suit.

Still, I was happy with just being here. When our instructor started to show us some steps with the classical music, I completely forgot my anxiety. It was like magic!

9th March 2019

At noon, I joined my chorus group practice in Suginami Public Hall and felt revived. In fact, singing was one of my therapies for stuttering, because I didn’t think about my stutter when I was singing.

Mr Hon from GB Holdings was currently visiting Tokyo, and he had messaged me last night.

“I came to see you,” he had said. “In South Korea, companies visit their candidates. We don’t ask our future teammates to come over to our place and make them pay a train fare, unlike Japanese companies.”

Though I supposed that he had come to inspect some office buildings in Tokyo, how could I have declined this nice offer?

Hon showed up in his dark leather jacket at Ogikubo station at 3 p.m. as he had promised. His tanned, round face reminded me of Miyo, and as we talked in a café near the station, I saw the resemblance in their skin-deep courtesy too.

“Our HR department said that you sounded like a very reliable person in the phone interview, and they were right,” said Hon in his fluent Japanese, putting the coffee cup on the saucer. “You are someone we can fully trust.”

“I am,” I replied in my mind. I am trustworthy, honest and loyal. But does he know what hiring such a person means?

“You are too honest, Megu-chan. All companies do this sort of cheating,” was Miyo’s favourite reasoning. “Otherwise, they’d never be able to keep up with their competitors.”

“Which company?” I once asked, when I was totally tired of the frequent conflicts between the ITCM managers and the workers. “Which company doesn’t give their employees the legal minimum annual leave? You said all companies, so can you give me one name, please?”

Miyo didn’t give me any name. Instead, she said, “We can’t give them 11 annual days of leave even in their second year, because our client pays us for only 10 days of leave, OK?”

“You don’t need to worry about our labour law compliance. Our company is very clean. We have many tasks from the Korean government,” Hon assured me. He added that the new office would be set up in Yotsuya, which was only fifteen minutes away from Ogikubo by train. “No overtime work, so you can enjoy your gym after work. You can manage your office your own way.”

Those words were just too good to be real, yet I couldn’t help imagining my fantastic new life. See Fred, I’ll become a great office manager in the brand-new GB office, and I will thank you for dismissing me!

When I got home, I was like a different person, positive and confident. I could already see Miyo’s envious face when she heard about my splendid new company.

In the evening, my microwave was bought by a kind-looking woman. Things are going well.

10th March 2019

For the first time since 18th February, I had a good dream. In the dream, I was walking toward my parents’ house. Ana’s black and white figure didn’t come into my view on the familiar straight road. Dad hadn’t asked me what time I would arrive at Hino station so that he could bring our dog there. But I wasn’t sad because I wasn’t walking alone. The person beside me had a similar silhouette to my ballet instructor and soon he changed into Ana.

Even after I woke, I felt this comfort for a while in bed. It was the feeling after mum had shampooed and combed my hair in my childhood.

My mobile phone buzzed and Miyo’s email crushed my daydream.

“You’ve got a message from Masumi. She is asking about her income tax certificate.”

Masumi’s forwarded message had been sent to my ITCM Gmail address. It’s been three weeks since I was banned from my Gmail account and shut out from the office. Why does she still not know that I’m no longer in ITCM?

Feeling agitated, I wrote an email to Elle. “Could you check with Ben what is happening to my Gmail account now, please? Is anyone handling my account, pretending to be me?”

Somewhere in my mind, I saw their frown. Elle and Ben are good people, but they must want to avoid any trouble with their boss. Ben is now waiting for his five-year work visa in Japan, so remaining on good terms with the company, who are sponsoring him, is important for him.

I recalled Ben’s upset face on my last day in ITCM. I still felt it was surreal that we parted like that after working in the same office for two and half years.


11th March 2019

Despite the train delay because of the stormy weather, I arrived at the tower block in West Shinjuku ten minutes before the interview time. As I had been instructed by Michelle Layne, I informed the company of my arrival on the 14th floor’s entrance phone and was ushered to their meeting room. The room was huge with more than twenty leather seats around the shiny, wooden table. Shoot…No one has advised me which seat I should take!

I took the middle seat and sipped green tea, which had been served by the company, to calm my panic. I already foresaw that I wouldn’t be hired by this rich computer technology company from the US. So I decided to just enjoy the talk and treat everything as a good experience.

The weather had shifted dramatically by the time I left the tower. The storm was gone and the warm wind blew while the sun shone.

“Actually, I wasn’t asked a single question from the list,” I reported to Kim on Skype while at home eating my late lunch. The meeting with three staff members and a director had been a very casual one with lots of laughter.

“Instead, the Japanese director asked me what my blood type is.”

This surprised my American friend. “Your blood type? That’s the weirdest question I’ve ever heard.”

As far as I know, only Japanese and Korean people have stereotypes about blood types. I can’t deny that I have a certain prejudice too. I really dislike myself for now being curious about Hon’s blood type. If I work for GB, he will be my immediate boss. When he asked me, “Can you drink alcohol?” at our meeting and looked a little disappointed by my answer, I assumed his blood type was the same as Miyo’s.

Do not ask his blood type, Megu. That would show how narrow-minded you are!


13th March 2019

In my mind, Hon and Miyo have become like brother and sister. I can’t fully trust GB Holdings and my anxiety still makes me stare at job advertisements day in and day out.

In the evening, my mobile phone rang and I immediately answered, expecting a call from Michelle Layne.  

“Hi Megu-san,” Heather’s voice stabbed my heart. No matter how many days have passed, they immediately drag me back to the unforgettable day of 18th February.

“I’ve sent two messages, but you haven’t responded.” Miyo’s new assistant sounded like she was accusing me. “We need to know about Chiyo’s residence tax urgently.”

Residence tax again! I have already answered the same question to Miyo. Why wouldn’t she ask the ward office directly?

“Sorry, but…I can’t see any data now…” I somehow managed to squeeze out my voice. “Let me check your emails and reply to you.”

Even after hanging up the phone, my breath was still short. It was my fault. I should have checked the number before answering the call. “Why did you answer them?” Rica’s angry voice echoed in my mind. “You are on leave now. You’ve done enough for them despite all their harassments!” I just thought it was from my job agency, I excused myself. But no. Of course, the US company didn’t offer me the second interview. Remembering Heather’s flawless skin, I suddenly felt jealous. Did Fred discard me because he just wanted a pretty office assistant?

I opened the book “The Chimp Paradox” by Dr. Steve Peters to calm my agitated chimp. Since I was dismissed, I have kept thinking about the man in the book who was framed by two co-workers and fired by his boss. I know life is unfair. I know stories don’t always end happily ever after. I know there are psychos who enjoy hurting others and there are so many people who suffer from unreasonable rules in the world… Still, I can’t move on yet. I can never forget this shock and anger. What should I do, Dr. Peters?


14th March 2019

The afternoon was warm. My mobile phone rang and the number wasn’t from the ITCM office, so I answered.

“Your book is ready to be collected from the Suginami central library,” a strange voice said.

I’d almost forgotten about my book reservation. Yes, a good book is what I need now! I instantly went out to the library.

As I started reading the book “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Atticus Finch soon became my hero. When I was in secondary school, my dream was to become the secretary of a good lawyer, like Della Street in “Perry Mason”. While I could never imagine myself becoming like Perry because of my stutter, supporting him in the back office to fight against evil looked super cool.

“Megu-chan, you mention the labour law a little too much in your email. That’s dangerous here, I have to say.” I recalled Miyo’s warning. “Fred dislikes being threatened by laws.”

“Threatened? I’m just telling him what our social consultant is saying.” I was as straight as an arrow. I believed that justice should be with me as long as I was telling the truth. Perhaps, I had watched too much Perry Mason.

A dog’s bark echoed through the evening. I stood to close my shutter before the air became colder. I closed it quietly, so that the dog owner in the next house didn’t mistakenly think that I was annoyed by the barking. Their dog rather pleased me by reminding me of the memories with my dog.

“Look at Ana. She is sad because you’re complaining about your managers again.”

As Rica indicated, our dog was wearily laying her head on the edge of the buggy. It was last summer, when she was 14. We had gotten this buggy so that she didn’t have to walk on the burning asphalt. “Dogs feel it when their mother is not happy.” Not only Rica, but all my family said that Ana thought I was her mum because I had looked after her every day until she was four.

I stopped the buggy before the pedestrian crossing and stroked Ana’s head.

“Don’t worry Ana. I’m very happy as long as you are happy with me.”

When our dog had been diagnosed with incurable liver cancer a year before, I had realized that she had been the most important thing in my world. Since then, I visited her almost every weekend and cherished this happiness every moment I was with her. I might have looked unhappy when I complained about Miyo and Fred to Rica, but I wasn’t. I was really happy until 2nd November last year, because I had Ana.

21st October 2018 was the last day I saw Ana alive. She ate a piece of deer meat from my hand, and even jumped off from the buggy and walked with me. It was getting cooler so I thought she was becoming stronger. After the walk in the park, Ana was resting on the cushion in the living room. I petted her and told her that I would come home again soon. When I left her for the entrance, mum came to Ana and said, “Megu is leaving now. You must be sad.” I looked back at her, being petted by mum on the cushion. My dog was looking at me too, her eyes saying “Don’t go.” as always. She wanted to come to me, but she couldn’t stand up by herself anymore.

I continued listening to the neighbour’s dog barking while immersed in my memories of Ana, until I felt like opening the book again.

February 2019 < > March 2019-2

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