Saturday, February 24, 2007

city of lost children

After a long day at work, I was out front loading all my crap onto my scooter. The area that my school is in is very residential - no houses, but tons of apartment buildings, or "mansions", most at least ten floors high. A couple of kids wandered by. Nothing unusual about that - this place is mobbed with kids. A perfect place for an English school/cram school, actually.

Except then I noticed that one of them, the elder, about six, was sniffling and crying. His little companion, about three, was trailing behind him uncertainly.

I looked after them in concern. The older one wouldn't look at me, but kept wandering along. The younger one, though, stopped and checked me out, an entreat on his face.

"Daijoubu?" I asked. Are you okay? He mumbled something incomprehensible but then started to follow what I assumed to be his brother. I watched them for a minute, but they stayed out of close range, so I resumed packing my bike.

A few moments later, though, as I was putting on my helmet, the little one came back. "Mama o sagashite kudasai" he said. Help me find my mom. I crouched down. "Do you know your mom's phone number?" He shook his head, crestfallen. The older one, several meters away, started yelling for his brother. "Techi!" he called. Techi (probably short for Testuya or something like that) replied but stayed by my side. Big brother came over. He had some kind of bandage on his hand. "Do you know your mom's phone number?" I asked. He fired a rapid stream of numbers. I got out my phone and made him repeat it more slowly, then handed the phone to him, who handed it to the three year old.

"Mama, come back! What? We're near the house. What? Yeah. Ok. Ok. Byebye." Older handed the phone back to me; "Arigatou gozaimasu," he mumbled. They wandered a few meters away. I stuck around, keeping an eye on them and packing very slowly.

A minute later, a woman came whizzing over the overpass on a bicycle. The kids ran over to her and she started gently scolding them. "Where did you go? What are you doing?" Reassured, I started to get my things together. "Thank you!" she called over to me. "Thanks for the phone! Sorry for the trouble!" "It's nothing," I replied.

Girl scout good deed for the day, I guess. Poor kids. Losing your mom is scary.

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