We are showing you certain of those "weird things" with a visual and to finish the night, the tale of Unkoku Togan relate to the theme.
Kotori, by Unkoku.
Could have been conceivable to spend my existence confined when there is so much things to see, to smell or to enjoy? Since the beginning of my journey, I’m feeling alive more than ever. No cold nights spent lying under the trees nor injuries from which I may recover could make me renounce the happiness I experience from seeing so many things. I realize now that I’ve been an adult since a few years. I was just an ignoring kid, eyes closed to the world. I’ve spent many years, watching the same places, same people that each day was the same. For now, things are finally changing. Each day is a new adventure: I’m not able to know what will await me at the bend of the road. Bandits looters, acrobats, a couple of old men ... Each new meeting transforms me, like a serpent that molts tirelessly. It seems to me that the world keeps whispering to me: there is more, even more!
Always more memories and experiences. I could live a hundred centuries and experience only a tiny part, but does it matter? I like to not be aware of everything. So, my life is filled with wonder.
I wish, however, to be able to see. The feeling of having been blind to many things in my life is bothering me. I lived anchored in certainties that I thought I would never have to question, but here I am forced to do it. This is a terrifying and exhilarating experience at the same time.
When it happened, I went along the course of a torrent for a few days already. Oh, it was not that long, but itinerant travelers had offered me to share their meal, and I had crossed the road of a young man seeking poet to exalt the beauty of his sweetheart, himself being a poor handler of words. I could not refuse!
The torrent, moreover, had the goodness to remain to wait for me while I made him infidelities. The water sometimes flowed so fast that it became faster than the wind itself. It was as if she was encouraging me on my journey. I followed the direction she indicated to me. She was much faster than me, but I liked to imagine that I would eventually catch up with her at the end of the road, and what would I discover then? Perhaps some water divinity with slender limbs and merry laughter? I am no longer certain that this is impossible.
Walking was difficult in some places: the wet and steep ground did not forgive the missteps and I had to pay attention at every moment. Alas, my propensity to daydream ends up catching me when I heard a bird song. I raised my head to see the winged companion who livened my walk, but did not stop walking anyway. Anything other than me would have predicted that it would result in a fall. It was probably quite spectacular and pleasant to see. I was stunned and sore, as well as surprised, the events being chained rather quickly. That's when I heard a laugh.
I sat up to discover my audience. A child stood there, hand on mouth, seeming to stop laughing again. I watched as I sat up. She was probably very young, not older than eight, and wore a beautiful green silk kimono, a quality silk, though rather wet. We could see that, as well as her little hands without imperfection, that she was not a peasant girl working in the fields to live. On the contrary, it was probably the daughter of a daimyo or at least one important character. Her wet hair was detached, and she was swinging in her other hand a solitary geta.
"It befits me to have brightened your day, Hime-sama," I said, bowing ceremoniously before her. My name is Unkoku Togan, a wandering traveler with no other purpose than the pleasure of falling on the roads, to the delight of young ladies. "
I was rewarded for my thrill with a new laugh.
"Nice to meet you," she replied, bowing in her turn. My name is Kotori, and I walk along this torrent so that travelers who fall do not do it without a spectator. "
I failed to remain silent in the front of this sense of repartee. That promised us pleasant conversations!
"The torrent, however, seems to have made you very poorly rewarded Hime-sama," I remarked. By dint of watching people fall, have you not finished imitating them yourself? "
His face darkened suddenly, and I regretted my words. Taking out a manju from my bundle, I offered it to console her, but she disdained it.
"Can you help me, traveler? she asked me. You are right, I fell into the torrent, and I unfortunately lost my second geta and the ribbon I was wearing. I have been searching for them for so long that I cannot remember when I started. I cannot go home accoutered in this way; my parents would not forgive me.
"I am your servant," I solemnly swore. You must not have been searching for so long: you are still soaked. Why not sit in the sun and eat while I embark on this noble quest? "
So, saying, I handed him the manju again: she took it with a smile still slightly saddened.
"Thank you, traveler. I am tired indeed. "
And as she sat down, I asked her where her possessions had fallen. Following his indications, I went looking for them with little hope of finding them, given the current. However, I was not discouraged: the kami might favor me!
I do not know how long I walked, but they favored me indeed. They did, however, have a very strange way of doing it. Ribbon, no trace, but I found the geta in the middle of the stream, balanced on a wet rock. The place was visibly treacherous: the current was so strong that the water was foaming violently, seeming to rage and generate a deafening noise. I did not dare to venture first for fear of breaking my neck. But a promise is a promise, and I end up trying an approach. I am ashamed to admit that I immediately sank and clung to the shore with all my strength. The current was however too strong, and I could not go back up. Three times I tried, three times I failed. I thought my last hour arrived. Already my vision was darkening, and my body was softening. I felt myself leaving, when a vise of iron closed on me.
I regained consciousness on the shore, frozen and even more sore pains than before. A curious man was leaning over me. He was thin, but his legs and arms were made of gnarled muscles like tree branches. He peered at me, his strange green eyes half hidden under a mass of gray hair.
"you’re alright kiddo? He inquired
I tried to answer him, but could only cough and spit water.
"Yes ... Yes, thank you," I finally breathe. You saved me from certain death, I am your debtor. "
He waved his hand casually.
"Well, do not worry about that, huh? It wouldn’t be nice to see that old Waki is letting a kiddo get drawn so close from his home, huh?
- At your house? Do you live here?
- Not that far away, my boy. I was looking for water. A boon for you, huh?
- Oh yes, Oji-sama. I agreed.
I would not have wished it were otherwise! How could so little Kotori have been able to come out alive from this liquid hell? She must have fallen to a place where the current was not so strong, otherwise she would have drowned! And still the torrent had managed to get him geta and ribbon!
"What are you doing here? "
My mission suddenly came back to me. How long had I been away? Kotori-sama was desperate to see me come back.
"If I can abuse your goodness Oji-san, could you help me get this geta? I promised a little girl to bring it to him. "
Waki stared at me for a long time, looking strange.
"Is this shoe my guy?
- Well ... Indeed. "
Waki watched the geta, thoughtfully.
"That's how I see things, son," he murmured, caressing his thick beard. Sometimes, it’s better to not involved in certain things, yep, not at all”
"I beg you, Oji-Sama," I said, kneeling. She is counting on me, I cannot disappoint her. "
Waki looked restless.
"Yeah, I know who you're talking about, go. It's been a long time since she's looking for this one. Looks nice, you know, huh? But if we return it to him, we do not know what is gonna happen! "
I did not understand.
"Kotori-sama is a very sweet little girl. What do you want it to happen? "
Why did I take all this so seriously? It was obvious that the parents of this girl would not be angry at him for having lost some small business: they would rather be relieved to see her alive again! And trying to recover this geta was way too dangerous. Yet I felt confusedly that I had to do it. I had seen so much distress and sadness in Kotori-sama, under his smiles that I had to help him.
Waki stared at me. He seemed divided. Then he seemed to take a decision. He raised his head and, bringing two fingers to his mouth, he uttered a shrill whistle. I was quite surprised.
"You seem to have trouble, so can we trust you, huh? he said, shaking his head. What is curious about you is that you see it even if you are completely blind.
- I do not understand, I confessed
- Do not see what you have under your nose, but you know how people can be. You see them with this, he said, beating his chest. There are not many people who are so polite with the old Waki, for sure ...
- I'm sorry, Oji-sama. "
A huge raven suddenly pops up above our heads. Waki gestured to the geta with a sweeping gesture, and the bird swooped down on her, to drop it at our feet. I had the impression that he observed me a moment before resuming his flight. His eyes shone with almost human intelligence. Other than human.
"I do not understand," I whispered again. If you could get it back, why not do it earlier? You knew she was looking for her. "
There were, to tell the truth, many other things that I did not understand, but I dared not even touch them. What did all this mean? Waki seemed to belong to another world, him who could communicate with strange creatures and who knew things that I didn’t know.
"We never know how to react," he answered soberly. By now, let’s go. Let's go give it back to him. "
We made the way back in silence. I hardly dared a "what am I blind, Oji-sama" which was answered "you'll know soon enough".
The sun was setting when we found Kotori-sama, and his glowing coat was lining the child's shoulders. She had not eaten the manju that had remained on the floor. I gave him the geta. Only then did I notice how damaged she was. The wood was cracked and dull, the colors past. It could not be his, although it looked like her!
But she threw herself on my neck, thanking me warmly, then put on her shoes. I was perplexed. Could the water inflict so much damage?
"Unfortunately, we could not find your ribbon, Hime-sama," I said, bowing.
- Oh! the young girl saddened herself before suddenly freezing. "
I felt Waki stiffen behind me, and turned to him. He stared intently at Kotori-sama, and an inexplicable tension seemed to have taken hold of his body. It looked like he was ready to run or jump on her.
"Oh," Kotori-sama murmured again. "
I looked at her. Her eyes had darkened, and she smiled sadly. His hand went up to his throat towards a red mark that I had not noticed until then.
"Yes," she whispered. I think I know where he is. I had just forgotten it until then. "
Waki stepped forward.
"Come here, little girl. Let's go find it. "
All tension had left her, and she seemed to be inhabited by immense compassion.
We then made the journey in the opposite direction, illuminated by the persistent glow of the setting sun. We did not have a long way to go before Kotori-sama came to a stop. She was watching something at the water's edge, that I had not seen the first time I'd been there.
It was a tiny funeral altar, made of small round and white stones piled one on top of the other. A wooden stick, planted at its center, bore an inscription. Kotori stepped forward and lifted some stones. I dared not say anything, understanding that something important was happening there. She took an object under the stones and put them back in place. When she got up, I saw what it was. It was a green silk ribbon, with a tarnished color.
"Is it okay now? Waki asked.
"Yes," sighed Kotori-sama sadly.
"Then we need to go away, kiddo." said Waki firmly, but without harshness. "
I did not understand anything anymore. Maybe I refused to understand. When Kotori-sama looked at me, she smiled.
"Thank you, traveler," she said. Close your eyes now. "
I executed myself. Seconds later, Waki told me to reopen them. Kotori-sama was gone. He pointed to the little altar. I think I already knew what I would find, but I watched it anyway. On the stick, one could read "Kotori".
"It's been a long time that It has happened" Waki explained to me. Five years or more. She was walking not that far away then she fell. And old Waki is still not here, huh? They found her again after hours. She had not drowned; her ribbon had hung from a branch with the draught. "
I listened without saying anything. It was as if the world I had always known was torn apart. Across the interstices formed were fuzzy forms that I had not thought of until then.
"Buried it, but it was there anyway, always. She did not know, do you understand? She wanted her geta, that person had dared to recover her because of the current. His father, that made him crazy. Y wanted to save her. The tried to go take it. And drowned. "
Waki shook his head, his back arched, as if praying in front of this small child altar.
"The ribbon is his mother who had kept it. She put it there after, when her husband died. And it is gone too, far from all this. "
He stopped talking and silence grew denser around us as night fell. There was not a single rustling, no presence of nightlife. It was as if nature was recovering too.
"Why do not you get it back sooner if you could, Oji-sama," I said again. You knew she would be at peace if you did it. And his father would not be dead.
-Nah, I didn’t know, son, he deceived me by putting his hand on my shoulder. We can never know how to react by understanding that they are dead. Did not know, you see? Had forgotten him. And sometimes, when it happens, it's a mess. "
He seemed to meditate for a moment.
"But you see people, as I said. You know what's inside, I saw it right away. I said to myself that we could trust you, huh? That's what you did today, son. You brought him peace. "
We gathered for a few more moments before the altar, then Waki invited me to spend the night at his house, but I was unable to fall asleep. I thought of Kotori-sama, his sad destiny, and this world that I knew even less well than I thought. It seemed to me that the impossible did not exist.