Question. Do things of the past ever really stop existing? You’re sitting under a blue rock at sea and see them passing as a tanker in a light fog, drawing a straight line between the shore and an island out of sight. That used to be me, you almost think. Your world is going down.

14 October 2012.

“Hello…passengers, welcome abord this….flight.” Being a pilot must be the most boring thing in the world. Listening to his moan I fall asleep. I wake up to eye-scorching light with a parched throat. I pull myself up. It’s too late to see the sea. Dark hills are gushing like waves. Barren land. One giant wall of black earth – it must be mount Fuji – seems the only thing keeping us from going from here to there. The more I stare, the less I understand its scale.

I open the little black book by Jun’Ichiro Tanizaki on Darkness. More on Tanizaki later. For now, look at this cardboard bookmark. It’s the bookmark that Lennard, my best five-year old friend in the world gave me yesterday. At the bottom of the bookmark he depicted me as me, with a bush of curls on the head, smilingly surrounded by the Japanese with cone-shaped helmets. On the other side of the bookmark he gave me wings. I am flying upwards, having escaped from an opened book on the bottom guarded by soldiers with swords. I am now headed for a planet surrounded by flowers. Flowers or pompoms. “Dear passengers, I hope you’re enjoying this…the air temperature is now…” I quickly belt up, fall asleep and miss the entire landing.

Odd. How could Lennard have known? Three little men with cone-shaped helmets are standing on the tarmac. Not moving an inch. Then – presumably responding to a command – they bow. One of them jumps behind the wheel of an enormous truck and the two others hop toward the plane. I can almost hear them cheering. “Here’s Japan. Here we go”, I mutter to myself without too much enthusiasm.

I withdraw money. I follow the crowd into the cheapest train to Tokyo. We slide through a miniature land of small and steep hills overgrown with bamboo. Greener and more crisp than I had judged it in the plane. There’s never been an autumn evening as dim as this. When the doors open, a mild perfume floats in. The Japanese keep their eyes to the ground as we pass one speechless village after the other.

To be continued…


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