Disclaimer: notes transcribed as is, no editing has been made so as to preserve my original feelings as I read the chapter.
Part 6, Around The World And Above; Chapter 5, Sensei Tomonaga Ijiro.
Sensei Tomonaga, a victim of the H-Bomb, a survivor of it’s destructive power. Totally sightless, thanks to the image of the bomb burning out his retinas. He is, & will forever be, “hibakusha”.
In Japan, hibakusha, “survivors of the bomb,” occupied a unique rung in our nation’s social ladder.
Pre-war, this meant he was considered a social outcast. He believed that his blindness made him even more of a burden, not only to his family but to all of society. He was politely refused employment because of his disability. An unjust situation and I can understand his constant feelings of unworthiness & suicide endeavours. It is not his fault, it is merely society’s manner of brainwashing. Even in the West, people are expected to think & feel in a particular manner and to never question if it truly is the right way. Thankfully, Sensei Tomonaga stayed his hand. Deep within him, regardless of his desire to do the “honourable thing”, his sub-conscience found a reason to live.
In Sapporo, I met an Ainu gardener, Ota Hideki. The Ainu are Japan’s oldest indigenous group, and even lower on our social ladder than the Koreans.
If memory serves, the Ainu were treated quite harshly & inhumanely during World War II, it is fitting then that these two outcasts should find each other.
Ota-san kindly teaches Sensei Tomonaga many things, even employing him when no-one else will. Were it not for Ota-san, this poor wretched self-loathing man would have perished given either time or the presence of the infected.
In fact, it was his loathing of becoming a burden once more that he removed himself from the general population. He hitched his way to the Hiddaka Mountains. Again thanks to Ota-san, Sensei Tomonaga had the means to survive, along with his trusty ikupasuy, and because he believes that nature itself has intervened and supported his continued existence.
Every day I told myself “This is the perfect place to die, soon I will have an accident, a fall of some kind, or perhaps I will become ill, contract some sickness or eat a poisoned root, or maybe I will finally do the honourable thing and just stop eating altogether.”
Obviously, he never made that decision and it was a large brown bear that solidified his belief that kami and the natural forces had a plan for him. A destiny.
The bear also brought the attention of a zombie to Sensei’s attention. That ikupasuy, his shovel & walking stick, also proved to be an effective weapon. Very effective.
I centered my attack on the source of the creature’s moan. I struck quickly, and the crack vibrated up through my arms. The creature fell back upon the earth as I released a triumphant shout of “Ten Thousand Years!”
He even buries the poor infected creature afterwards, and does so for each and every saifu that he eliminates. A human thing to do, and one of compassion to a life that had no choice in death.
Sensei’s first living human guest is, strangely enough, another otaku. That of Kondo Tatsumi. A different type of outsider.
For all of Tatsumi-san’s physical failings, to reach the Hiddaka Mountains, dirty, bloody and malnourished, is a testament to his will to live. Of course, his sword has proven to be his shield, as he still had it with him when he met up with Sensei Tomonaga.
Perhaps “met up with” is the wrong phrase, “pounced upon” is a better suited phrase.
KONDO: I thought he was insane, and told him so right to his face. The two of us against millions of siafu?
TOMONAGA: I handed his sword back to him; its weight and balance felt familiar to the touch. I told him that we might be facing fifty million monsters, but those monsters would be facing the gods.