By Kenzaburō Ōe
From Nobel Prize winner Oe comes the tale of Marie Kuraki, a eastern lady with a grin like Betty Boop's, who has turn into a saint to a bunch of Mexican farm staff. even though Marie is an unbeliever looking for religious peace, she embarks on a trip brought on through a chain of private tragedies, together with the deaths of her husband and sons.
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Atfirst it seemed she would never finish, but the day finally came when she had the boxes she was going to take with her piled up in the living room readyfor the movers, and thefurniture divided up as well. It was already late at night. The heavy makeup she always wore made thefatigue stand out on herface all the more, but her eyes were almost too bright. In a low, huskY voice, as she'd hardly spoken the whole time, she said to me: "Satchan, our life was a failure-there's nothing left; the good things are all gone.
Shouldn't we have already been asking, 'Why has god done this ? ' at that stage ? We all live with handicapped child ren. Each of us gets moral support from that particular kind of beauty, or charm, or gentleness that our child has. And yet each child is also marred by the inevitable ugliness that comes from being handi capped. And don't we see a warped, twisted quality in their hearts from time to time, too, that seems to go along with the physical deformity ? The unsightliness we needn't even con firm for our selves; the reactions of people who pass our children as they walk down the hill from school to the bus stop together serve as a mir ror to show it to us, like an open sore.
Y from the bottom of the stairs, her sun flower print skirt spread out around her, calmly sitting with legs crossed and head held high, looking straight ahead. Her straw hat, narrow-brimmed like a soldier's headgear, was held against her chest, and she waved it at me, looking as though she belonged in some summer resort. That cheery image was oddly at variance with her air of embarrassment, mixed with an "oh-what-the-hell" attitude clearly intended to give herself courage; years later, when my younger son came home and reported that he had failed his 32 university entrance exam, the expressiOn on his face would remind me of Marie that day.
An Echo of Heaven by Kenzaburō Ōe