And we’re back with the second last piece of this four piece kind of mini-series I guess. At this point, if you are up to date, and you have read the last two pieces than you may have guessed that this series is inspired by Japan, more specifically anime and light novels. And that really is the kind of style that I’ve been more accustomed to writing, especially in my actual stories, like not my short stories but I actually do have larger stories that I’m working on that’s been under wraps and that I’ll eventually post as I do final edits and the likes, because I do like doing final edits. But anyway, the point is, and it may not seem like it, but my style is influenced by what our friends in the east are doing, and I try to fuse kind of western ideas with eastern ideas to get this really weird style. I mean at least I think my style is weird, but weird isn’t bad you know? But anyway, here we have it, and fun fact this chapter of this series is very heavily influenced by a very great anime film called “Summer Wars”. I love that movie and it was the base for this chapter, the chapter before we get to the really interesting stuff. The stuff that inspired me to relive this series because it had a certain writing gimmick to it. The type you might have read in my ” ” post. But enough formalities, here we go, or rather, here you go, “The Feeling Of Family.”
After my second year of middle school was a good long awaited break. A summer break. In fact it was one of the best summer breaks I’ve had in awhile, and one I’ll cherish. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hiroshi summer without going to our summer home. After my school year was done, my parents were ecstatic about heading back into the country, and so was I. It was going to be a full year before we got to go back, and to be honest, I was starting to miss the country side air. It was a lot cleaner, I can say that for sure.
We packed lightly, and drove our car all the way to the country side. It was a long ride, but it wasn’t that bad. My mother kept me company, playing games with me and telling me about her work. In turn, I told her about my school year, which, thanks to Hina, was pretty good. As we finally arrived at our summer home; I felt a rush of exhilaration. There was no place like home, and the fresh country air sent chills up my back and put me at ease.
We had a pretty big family, and this year, my mother called up a bunch of our relatives to come over. Our summer home was pretty big, so space wasn’t a concern. Actually, letting our summer home not get crowded would be a waste. I’m glad my mom made the call, because without her, this summer break probably wouldn’t have been as good as I expected.
We were the first ones to arrive; so we decided to clean the place up. No one ever used this place after our family get-togethers, so it does get a little dusty. It was somewhere in the afternoon when our relatives started flooding in. My cousins, uncles, aunts, you name it. Soon enough, we had a full house.
To commemorate the summer, we did what we usually did; hold a huge feast. We sat lined up on each side of our dinner table; food in front of us and we all said our prayers in unison. As we finished, the house lit up with our eating and talking. I was at the shorter end of the table, and I was being bombarded with questions from my uncles and cousins, “Hey so what’s the city like?”
“I heard they have twenty-four hour shops there.”
“Did you see any girls in kimonos?”
“What does the food taste like? Don’t they have those really long chain restaurants?”
“Are the woman any good?” I leaned back, took a deep breath, and then in one go; answered all of their questions; turning towards each person as I say them, “It’s nothing like the country side at all.”
“Yes, I’ve seen the ones you’re talking about.”
“No, I haven’t been to any of the festivals or anything so I guess not.”
“The food tastes like food, what do you expect? And yes, long chain restaurants do exist.”
“How would I know?”
My uncles and cousins collectively took in my answers with awe-filled eyes. After we were done eating, we split off in our own ways. My mom and my aunts began cleaning the dishes, while the rest of us scattered throughout the house; some of us deciding to take a bath, and the rest of us just idly playing.
I never really did get many toys. My parents never got me any, and to be honest; I never found myself wanting to play with them. Sure I would sometimes get jealous when I saw my other classmates playing with their hand held devices and talking about all sorts of contraptions; but It just never hit me hard enough. When I was bored; I just found my own ways to entertain myself. And it worked. Even on those lone rainy days where everything was gloomy; I found some way to have fun. Whether it was by reading my favorite books, turning on the T.V, or just listening to the calming sound of the rain hitting on my window; I never really did get any toys or games.
As I was playing with my nephew; with his toy cars, my uncle came around and crouched towards us. He put a finger on his mouth and then said quietly, “Hey, want to play something really fun?”
“Yeah, I bet you’ve never seen something like this before!” My uncle quickly took out a small mechanical device, which at the time; I had no idea what it was. My eyes widened with excitement and I remembered my heart racing. It was a new experience; it was a new endeavor. My uncle added, “This here is a Game Boy.”
“A Game Boy, the entertainment of the future!” My uncle worked for an electronics company. He was a designer; and he took pride in everything he did. I took the Game Boy from his hand and inspected it. It was a foreign object to me; and I had every intention of finding out what this mystical device did.
After my uncle exclaimed to me that this object of entertainment played these alien concepts called “games” I asked him, “Do you have any games with you?”
“Yup, a bunch, take a look.” My uncle poured out small little cartridges from his bag; each had a picture on it along with some words. I stared at these small boxes with amazement. My uncle had a large smile on his face and replied to my amazement, “Try whatever you like. I’m sure you’ll find something enjoyable.” As I was sorting out the pile of games, my second nephew came by and sat down with us. He had short brown hair and his body type was really slim. He had sharp eyes and as he looked at the games he said, “You always carry these around?”
“Only when my company splurges.”
“When they do, they do it right. These are some pretty good games.”
“You’ve played them?”
“I’ve beaten all of them.” My nephew’s name was Sato. I remember him as being a very secluded person. Whenever I passed by his room, he would always be playing games; by himself. I never made the effort to talk to him because he didn’t exactly seem lonely, but, It surprised me that he came over. In a way; it made me happy. Sato pointed at one of the games and said, “That one. We should play that one. If we use a link cable, we can all play together. You have one right?” My uncle rummaged through his bag and pulled out another foreign object called a “Link cable”, these were used to connect our Game Boys so that we could all play together, or at least that’s what my uncle said. Sato took out his own Game Boy, and took one of the cartridges from the pile. He then inserted it into the hollow compartment under the device. I followed suit; and so did my uncle. After that, we took the cables and plugged it into the top of our Game Boys; and from then on; we began playing.
We were playing a game filled with mysticism, adventure, action, and a tad bit of romance. The game was called final fantasy and it was a huge epic that we played throughout the night. While we were absorbed into the game, my mother came barging into the room; saw that we were loathing around playing it and called us out. Apparently we were all supposed to take a bath; but since we were busy playing; we let the water cool. And of course none of us wanted a bath in cold water, but my mother was pretty angry and forced us all to take a bath anyway. I remember her standing tall with her hands crossed; looking down at us with angry eyes filled with the flames of hell; or at least that’s what I would have wanted, because at least that would have heated up the bath for us. She was giving us a death stare, but my uncle stood by it all with a nervous smile on his face while scratching his head and saying, “It’s summer, we should let them play.”
To all of our expectations; the bath was less than relaxing. After I was done; I decided to head in for the night. It was late enough as is; and I wanted to save my energy for tomorrow; since we were heading out on a serious mission; and I needed all the strength I needed. I walked down the long hallway, and, as I was turning the corner, I noticed a dim light still on. I turned towards it. It was at the opposite side of where I was standing. I was curious as to who could be up, and unfortunately at that time; and still now, I didn’t have the floor plan memorized. So I trudged my way through the garden that was splitting the two sections. I remember looking up at the night sky that time and seeing a plethora of stars dancing brightly as I made my way.
I eventually arrived at the source of the light; which was protruding from a door. I carefully and quietly slid the door open slightly and peeked inside. It was a room; of course, filled with furniture, and well, it was just a room. I slid the door open completely and peeked a little more inside to see if anyone was there. And there was. It was my grandmother. She looked at me with the same look she always used; a look of patience, and wisdom. I stepped inside, and said, “Sorry, I just noticed that the light was on and wanted to check it.”
“Don’t tell me you forgot this was my room?”
“Well, no matter, have a seat. I’ll make you some tea.” I slid the door behind me and stepped in towards her. She was sitting on one side of a medium sized table that split the room. I sat on the opposite side, and as I did, she poured me a cup of tea. Steam was rising from the cup, and as I picked it up, I began blowing into it. After a few seconds I took a sip; bitter, but it was a nice relaxing taste nonetheless. When I put my cup down, my grandmother asked me a question, “Want to play?” She placed a deck of cards on the table. I looked up at her, and she had a small smile on her face, “Just like we used to.” I picked up the cards and began shuffling them. I dealt both of us thirteen cards and set the deck back on the table. The game began with no further dialogue.
We played for a while; throwing down cards, looking at our hands, predicting what our opponent would do. Then I would shuffle the cards back and re-deal them. We followed this rhythm until my grandmother began a conversation, “So how is it?”
“You mean the city?” My grandmother didn’t give me a reply, but I knew that meant a yes.
“It’s loud there, that’s for sure. The people are different, the stores are different, the atmosphere is different. But I think I like it there. It’s a change of pace, that’s for sure, and sometimes that’s not always a bad thing.”
“The country side is great and all, but the city is just so large. It’s so extravagant that I could almost puke, but at the same time; it’s also warming.”
“I can feel a sense of hesitation in you.” She was right. But it wasn’t because I didn’t think the city was great, or because I didn’t think the country was great. It was because, I realized that I left a lot of people at the country side. She continued, “It’s because you’re worried about us. Worried about the people you left, worried about your friends here.”
“Whether you like it there or not, or whether you like it here or not, the people you have, and the people you leave, are all part of it. Where there is change, there’s bound to be consequences, but at the same time, there is also rewards.” I stayed silent and looked at the cards in my hand. It didn’t look too great. I played my turn and when it was hers she continued, “Sometimes a little change is all we need. Even if it may not have the best results, or even if getting to that change would cost us something. Sometimes it’s necessary.” She placed her cards on her table and then said, “Let’s make this our last game.”
“Friends and family are precious. You should cherish them for the rest of your life. Whether you’re with them or not, you shouldn’t forget them. No matter what happens, just remember, there’s always someone there for you.” She looked at me with a serene smile on her face and at that moment I realized that she saw right through me. All of my worries were slowly fading, and at that time, I felt warmth. My grandmother had the right words at the right time. And, thinking back now, cherishing my friends for the rest of my life, is something I’m going to do. I don’t know if she knew or not, but, she just had the best timing. It raised my spirits, and it made me feel better.
My grandmother played her hand, and at that instant, I had lost. She said to me, “You’re coming again next year, right?”
“Let’s play again then, when you’re back.”
“Sure.” I got up and began walking back towards my room. The giant feast with my relatives, playing games with my uncle and nephew, having a serious conversation with my grandmother. All of them combined made that summer really great. It was really fun and no matter what, I’ll cherish them all. I’ll cherish the memories I made, the words they said, and the feelings I got. I think, for once in my life, I really felt something that I never thought I would cherish this much. I felt, the feeling of family.