I taught his class today. His desk was stripped of his trainer bag and calligraphy set. I'm not sure why they were in a hurry to do that. But other than that, it left untouched, as if waiting for its owner to come back and sit there. The English teacher gave a small speech about how the boy will be missed, and how he loved English, how he always put his hand up, eager to answer. The kids looked, down and were quiet. Before the class the students were a bit subdued although seemed pretty normal.
Luckily, the Japanese teacher had allowed me to play a game with them today to prepare them for the tests. Soon they were all laughing and shouting like normal. An ALT has many different jobs, one of which is making sure the students are happy and to cheer them up if not.
After school I went with a teacher and some students to the temple where the boy's body was resting. After being on a life support machine in hospital, they brought him to the temple to let him sleep. Whereas for the wedding, I was able to ask questions and people were happy to give me all the information I needed, this time I felt that I was unable to and had to observe what to do and judge for myself. I queued up with the students outside. He had so many friends, and was a good player of volleyball so there were loads of people around.
I took off my shoes and went inside along with the volleyball team and the English teacher. His coffin was at the head of the room, and next to it were his parents, the Chinese translator who is the school councilor, and the principal. Each person took turns kneeling before the coffin, then standing in front of the window through which the boy's face was visible. When it was my turn, I bowed to his parents, then looked to the place where I should kneel. There was a small pile of shredded (crushed?) incense and I had to take a pinch and put it on the small burning pile. I had expected to kneel there and perhaps say a few words to him in my head, but as I sat there my mind was blank, just pitch black with sorrow. The English teacher moved away from the face window so I stood up and peered down at his face. I can't believe this is the same boy I scolded only a few days ago for sounding like a Japanese person when speaking English. He was so good at English. My mind was still blank and there were tears rolling down my face. I bowed awkwardly and then once again to his parents and went to the other room. I had to write my name, and my hand was shaking and my min was still blank that I couldn't even write my town's name.
And that was that. As I left there were still loads of people waiting to see him. I hope he's looking down on us and feeling happy that he had so many friends and people who love him dearly.
I'm sorry to say that my student passed away this lunchtime. They took him to the temple near here and lay him out on a futon and he went to sleep there.
He was so strong and bright, I was sure he'd make it through.
You can see his story on nation wide news reports and on newspaper websites. He would be so chuffed that he's a mini celebrity now. Haha. He was such a cheeky monkey.
Thank you for all your kind messages.
I came to school today, did my printing for the day and just as I was returning to my desk I noticed all the kids were filing into the hall. I'm never told anything so I was a little miffed, but saw the principal walk in. "uhm... I should go to the hall?" I asked him.
he's a nice man, really kind although he looks like the demon headmaster a bit. he told me there had been an accident with a student, and mumbled a name.
I'm embarrassed to say that I still don't know all my kids names... only the naughty ones or the ones I really like. the name I heard was similar to the name of the Chinese boy in third grade, who is loud and excitable and enthusiastic about english. he has a nickname for me, "kakaroto" which is apparently the name of the main character in dragonball z.
I thought I'd miss heard but went to the hall anyway. the students were to be told all together. teachers were sniffling and had boxes of tissues ready.
the new English teacher came up to me, asked if I understood what was going on. I said I kind of did but wasn't sure. she confirmed that it was indeed the Chinese boy. when she said "accident" I immediately said "these bloody drivers round here.." but actually, against all odds, it wasn't a road accident and he had almost drowned. he wasn't - isn't- dead but is in critical conditions and may not last the week.
I felt like a bus had hit me. trying my hardest not to cry, i sat and listened to the principal tell everyone. there were no gasps, no sobs.
I guess some students already knew. but as they were walking out, you wouldn't know that anything had happened from looking at their faces. some chatting some smiling. it's another part of Japanese culture I won't understand. it reminded me of when no one mentioned the earthquake at school at all.
when I was in high school, a girl in my grade passed away. I didn't know her. probably spoke to her once or twice at most, but still when I found out I did feel really sad, I may have even shed a tear or something. I can't believe the kids were so normal walking out.
the teachers were, however, sobbing.
my first class after that was the first grade. I wanted to sit and cry for the wonderful little boy going through so much pain but I put a smile on and went to class.
I greeted the students, who have only been in our school a few months, and asked them how they were. as always they replied "I'm fine thank you and you?" to which I put on a smile and said "I'm good thank you." in an effort to includethe Japanese teacher i also asked her. to which she replied "I'm shocked that a student is now in a critical condition."
You see, I'm a really big push over. All the time. I really enjoy helping people- I will literally do anything for anyone, even if it means putting myself out. I've really enjoyed working as a regional advisor this past year in my area because it meant that I could help people settle in Japan just like I was helped when I first came here. You need contact lenses? No problem, I will go and translate for you. Need a karate school? No problem, I will phone around for you. Vegetarian? That's cool, I'll help search for options for you like restaurants and groceries.
I do it, like I said, because I like helping people, and because I was helped by other people when I first came to live in Japan for the first time.
But here I am now, looking ahead at the next few months and all that I have to do, and I feel so daunted and alone... I need to find Sherbet a new home first, that's my biggest worry. But then I need to buy curtains, possibly a tatami mat, and then I need to take all my duvets and stuff to a drycleaners... on top of that I need to prepare to go live in Frankfurt...
See, I've been a push over there too. I am a seriously organised type of person. I like doing everything way ahead of time. So even before my contract for the next job came through, I had an apartment sorted. But then, a few days ago, I got an email from the girl saying that the person living in that room now wants to stay there until September. Instead of getting angry, or complaining, or saying that we had written agreements (I had just printed out the contract and signed it ready to send to her), I just said "yeah, sure, I guess I'll find another place to live". Which is turning out to be easier said than done. I sent out a load of emails on this flatshare website, and I got a reply today to find that it was just my message forwarded back to me with SPAM written in big letters. It seems I sent out too many and the website thinks I'm up to no good. That makes me really upset...
I'm studying Chinese right now, too. I have been since the end of last summer. It's pretty fun and I'd forgotten what it feels like to make all those little mini accomplishments when learning a new language. My teacher is my friend... so even though I want my lessons done differently, I feel I can't upset her by telling her. I spend such a long time planning my private lessons; buying books, researching new games etc. I find that when it comes to me being the student people don't feel the need to put the same effort into it as I do. My teacher is nice and all, but we read out from the textbook that I bought, and she checks my pronunciation, but she never really challenges me, or gives me questions to make sure I've understood... I've tried hinting at her but it's no good.
I need to sort out this push over side of me, because I keep breaking at the wrong time. Yesterday, my Chinese teacher invited me to a Chinese dumpling making class with some of her other students. They were all old people. I was ok at the start, but then one old man nudged me and said "OH MAI GAHD, isn't it!" Now, I *hate* it when Japanese people say oh my God. It's one thing if you understand the meaning and make the conscious decision to possibly offend someone, but as Japanese people have no idea what it means I think they should curb their usage of it. I have taken it on myself to correct Japanese people when I hear them (well, students and friends) using it, and I did so with this old man too. But I kinda snapped at him "don't say that!" :-(
After we had cooked the dumplings, we sat down to eat them. We were, naturally, using chopsticks. Japanese people are amazed when foreign people can use chopsticks. People will compliment you all the time on how well you use them. Usually I suck it up and say thank you, even though it is along the same lines as if someone compliments you for being able to fully dress yourself every day. Again, this time, I snapped. "Can you use a knife and fork?" "uhm... yes, of course. Why?" "yes, well, it's the same. You can use a knife and fork. I can use chopsticks. It's nothing special."
I feel really bad about it now. Everything had just built up inside of me. I'm sick of people using me, and most of all of me just going along with everything. My private student tonight (who I teach on Friday nights, 9:30-11pm) asked to be taught on Tuesday next week. That means Monday night is 8-9:30, Tuesday is him at 9:30-11, and then the next night too is 9-10:30.. I'm going to be so tired... but did I say no? Of course not. I'm Miss Doormat.
And I need to change that.