Increasing Disappointment and Wish to Go Home

The way the town of Seoul looks like now should be the same as it looked this morning morning, but now, the faces of the pedestrians seem to be a bit different.  We Japanese had no idea what it is be defeated in the war against a foreign country; however, we were now going to exposed to what being the defeated.  

I kept walking around Seoul aimlessly. Although the summer sun was intensely shining, it was different from summer in Japan.  It was definitely different from the summer in Hankou. The summer in Hankou was unbearably hot.  The expression--“So hot that even a sparrow falls down” was really not an exaggeration.  Sweat would not evaporate in that town.  As I walked, sweat dripped down from the tip of my fingers as if I bathed in water.  The summer in Seoul was different from that, but nonetheless, it was also extremely hot.  

The owner of Bizenya, the inn we stayed, was from Okayama prefecture as the name of his inn showed.  (note: Bizen is the old name of Okayama prefecture.)  He seemed to have a contract to give accommodations for the commissioned officers.  It was built in the style of a traditional Japanese inn priding on its cuisine.  

I took a bath there, and began to drink sake with the well-prepared meal, but I could not calm down.  It was a time when a multitude of emotions swirled throughout my mind. 

Things about home kept popping up in my thoughts.  What has happened to my father, mother, and my sisters?  I heard Yokohama went through the air-raid, but I wondered if our house was in burned down.  Are they relieved to hear that the war is now over?  How is the Sato family in Beijin doing upon hearing the new about the end of the war?  I wonder if Shuko (note: his fiance)is safe.

I finally decided to write to them.  Luckily, I had about ten post cards with me, so I kept writing one by one while drinking with a small cup of sake. I wrote to my parents, Shuko, my sisters, and best friends.  

While writing, tears began to stream down.  I remembered the spring of 1944 when the locomotive train with twenty some odd members of apprentice military officers for the accounting department departed Tokyo station, heading for Shimonoseki.  Since it was going to pass by Yokohama station, I informed my family of that time ahead of time.  

Therefore, my father and two younger sisters were standing there, waving to me. We were only able to speak to each other out of the train window as our stop in Yokohama was very brief.

At that time, I was contemplating whether I would ever see them again.  I was going to the front and this could be the last time.  As I was on the military register, I had no other choice, but personally speaking, this was a dreadful thought.  Then my youngest sister gave me a small doll with some food.  There was a letter from her asking me to take the doll instead of herself.  She sewed it from a scratch of cloth, and it was just the size that would go into my bag of lucky charms.

When I saw my father, I realized he had really aged.  I wondered how sad he was seeing me off to the front like that since I was the only son.  Then there was a steam whistle and the train began to move.  The figures of my father and younger sisters rapidly began to disappear from the my view as I kept waving my hand at them.  Parting from a train allows only such a short time compared to parting from a boat.  My fellow apprentice of military officers tried to talk to me after that, but I could not hear what they were saying—I simply did not want anyone to say anything to me because I was trying very hard not to cry, grabbing the doll so tightly as I stared at the floor of the train.  Such a memory came back to me. Then there was also a time I was able to visit the family of my fiance in Beijin and felt so happy, but it was only a short while--I had to part from the beautiful old city that was named as the city of forests.  

After that, I spent a hot summer in the country town of Hahm Nyeo.  Even though it was where the headquarter of the brigade was located, there was not even an electric light.  We had to eat rice that had sand mixed in it and miso soup of winter melon every single day.  We also saw the bombers and the fighters of the twentieth American Air force flying above us many times every day.  As they went back and forth flying between Guilin and Hankou, they added more shooting and bombing that way.