Saturday, 2 May 2015

Homecoming

Translated from Japanese by Saya

8 years ago, the Golden Week - *1
I had just graduated from university*2, and was working and living alone in Tokyo.

It was my first GW since I began working *3  and I decided to go back to my hometown in Tochigi.*4
I decided to drive, but on my way got caught up in a traffic jam; that totally drained me out and I had to stop and take a break at a rest area.
Because of all that, when I finally arrived home it was already 10 in the evening.

When I arrived I immediately felt a very unpleasant, heavy air surrounding the house.
I'm a sort of person who doesn't believe in ghosts or that sort of thing, and have no psychic power whatsoever, but I could feel that the atmosphere had a certain quality that can best be described as evil.

But, at the time, I simply wrote it off as a silly feeling born out of exhaustion, and walked straight into the house.


My parents were still up and welcomed me home.
For a while we just sat around and chatted away about random things such as my workplace.
They said something like, "you should stay here with us permanently," and at the time I only felt touched thinking they were very concerned about me.
  
However, the ominous air was still bothering me, and as I was also exhausted from the journey, I decided to go to bed early.

Once in my room I tried my best to fall asleep but couldn't.
I was thinking in my bed -  something doesn't feel right.
Something feels odd.

It was already around one after midnight.
The lights in the sitting room were off, and my parents too seemed to have gone to bed.

I began to feel thirsty, so I went to the kitchen and opened the fridge, hoping to find something to drink.

It was then that I noticed a horrible stench.

I wondered what it was and tried to switch on the light but somehow it wasn't working.
I had no choice but use the light from my mobile phone to examine the fridge; and found that all the food inside it was quite rotten. 
All the use-by dates showed that everything had already expired nearly five years ago.
I had a bad feeling about it, and went to my parents' bedroom to get some explanation from them, but not only did I find the bedroom empty, but also I could not find any trace of them ever having slept in there either.*5
What was more, the room was extremely dusty, and looked as though no one had used it for many years.

Instinctively I knew I was in danger and that I had to get the hell out of the place asap; so I immediately packed up my luggage and ran to my car.
Just before starting the car, I glanced at the rear-view mirror and spotted my parents standing there.
I quickly drove away.
I have a feeling that they were not really my parents.
And the house too was perhaps....*6

The next thing I knew, I had again arrived at the same rest area that I had stopped by on the way home.
I decided to get some shut-eye.
When I opened my eyes it was already past noon.
I wanted to go back to Tokyo at once, but before that I called home, just to make sure that everything was OK.
My mother answered the phone.
I asked her about yesterday but she said I had never been home.
I wondered if I had been dreaming and fearfully drove back home again. But this time the house evoked no strange feeling in me like before, and the inside of the house was all normal. It was my old home as I had always known it.
I chatted with my parents for a while before returning to Tokyo on the same day.

On the way back to Tokyo, I got a call from home on my mobile.
It appeared to be from my mother, but she sounded strange, and I also sensed the unpleasant, evil air that I felt before.
"....Come back....," she said.
Without knowing what I was doing, I hang up and turned off my mobile.
It was extremely disturbing.

To this day I have no idea whether if I dreamed the whole thing or not.
But since that time I rarely go back home.

-----------------------------------
Notes:

*1 The Golden Week - a annual vacation period when many public holidays fall in succession, that usually lasts for one week from the late April to the beginning of May (Wiki)

*2 graduated from university - In Japan, graduation usually happens in April; which is appropriate, because the spring is the time when cherry blossoms - the symbol of death and rebirth - bloom.

*3 since I began working -  the original text says "since I became a shakai-jin (社会人)," where shakai-jin menas a "full member of society." Shakai-jin is usually used to describe someone who is a full-time worker.

*4 Tochigi - a prefecture in the same region as Tokyo (Wiki).

*5 I could not find any trace of them ever having slept in there - the original text says "no futon had been spread." (see Wikipedia for information about traditional Japanese bedding)

*6 And the house too was perhaps.... - he just trails off, without saying anything for definite. Leaving things ambiguous are common occurrences in the realm of Japanese communication.
He probably wanted to say "the house too was perhaps not my real house."


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