DISCLAIMER FROM THE TRANSLATOR: While I speak both English and Japanese fluently, I know nothing about medicine. These are rough translations made through tears (i.e., sometimes while bawling). Please take all medical details in particular with a grain of salt. These translations have not been proofread and will be revised on a later date.

Please note that I am NOT in contact with the original author, who has given general permission for translation in one of her entries.

I would appreciate it if everyone can refrain from posting these entries elsewhere and to share this address <http://jkts-english.blogspot.com> instead, as I will be making revisions to each entry directly (addresses for individual entries may change if I revise their titles).



Start reading here: 1) To the affected areas.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

11) Smile

Our cell phones had no reception and there have been many situations where being unable to use them proved inconvenient, but there was a certain warmth there, too—going where someone else is to communicate with them, or having a hand on someone's back while talking to them. We couldn't contact each other, so everyone was arriving early at meeting places to make sure they don't run late. We had no Internet, either, and we were cut off from necessary information, so we discussed things amongst ourselves and believed each other in putting anything into action. Unwanted information wasn't coming in, either, so I felt as though I had left my daily life completely.

We didn't need money here. The only time I used it is when I bought a prepaid card for phone calls, but the pay phones in the affected areas could be used free of charge.

Fabulous purses and stylish coats are not needed here.

We wear anything so long as it's warm. When I slept at night, I wore shorts over my head if it felt too cold. We all gave our covers to the elderly, who have much lower resistance than someone like me.

At night, when the power generator shuts down, we all gathered around a small candle and talked about what will happen from now on. In contrast to the mountains of rubble and muddy ground on the land, the stars were always shining beautifully against the black sky every night. It was reassuring to hear the voices of others.

The lack of water taught me just how important our resources are. There is no water that can be spared for something as trivial as washing our hair or faces. I couldn't take any baths so I wiped down my entire body with baby wipes, and took all my garbage with me when I left.

There were many people who were able to experience miraculous reunions in evacuation sites, first-aid stations, and hospitals. No matter who it was, everyone around them would break into applause. Even those who still hadn't been able to meet their families were celebrating the reunions of others.

Watching these scenes, I was reminded of the importance of our families, our friends, our colleagues, our relatives, our fellows of all kinds. It made me wish that I could go home just a tiny bit sooner.

There was always someone there for those who were on their own.

Even when I was just packing medical supplies by myself, someone from the area would always talk to me.

Locals were to be given priority for the meals being served, too, and there was an older woman about the same age as my own mother who always came to see me in the ambulance, where I would wait my turn because watching everyone get their food will probably make me hungry, to give me part of her share.

She called me by my name, and came to share her food with me every time, saying,
"We'll really be in trouble if you collapse!"

This, in a situation where there is no promise of her own meal tomorrow. I felt terribly apologetic and extremely grateful at the same time, and she would always make me think of my own mother.

And then I heard on the radio that people are fighting over supplies in the metropolitan area, and it made me wonder whether restoration would ever have been possible if this devastating crisis had hit Tokyo instead.

I have also come to truly appreciate the radio. Japanese is really such a wonderful language. I wanted to learn Spanish before, but now I want to give the Japanese language more of my attention.

There were always encouraging songs on the air, probably requested by everyone out there.

The Anpanman theme song, songs by Ayaka Hirahara, songs by Mayo Okamoto, songs by the band Mr. Children, songs by the group Arashi, and "Sekai ni hitotsu dake no hana [A Flower Unlike Any Other in the World]" by SMAP were on the air almost every day.

Songs like "Sorega daiji" by Daiji MAN Brothers Band and "Donna toki mo" by Noriyuki Makihara brought back memories.

When "Nando demo" by Dreams Come True was on the air, I couldn't stop crying even as I was transporting patients. It gave me so much courage. The faces of my friends and family came to mind on their own. More people in the medical team were rolling up their sleeves, and I think they were encouraged by the song, too.

When I couldn't sleep, I spent all night listening to songs like "Kimi to nara" and "Mihatenu yume" and "Tada…" by Tsubasa Imai. The songs encouraged me, but they also made me think about how that fun and cheerful space shouldn't be taken for granted, and that we were fortunate to be in a situation where everyone was doing well and could come and see the show.

The entire time, I was also thinking of my friends who were also at that show who are in the areas affected by this catastrophe, and hoped that we can see each other again in a happy place full of smiles.

No matter how many celebrities may be sending out messages for people to hang in there, electricity still hasn't been restored entirely, and when we finally had access to television, there was nothing but earthquake disaster information being broadcasted. The same can be said for the radio and newspapers.

No information about the entertainment world reached us at all.

Everyone at the evacuation site was watching nothing but the news, too, and every time another evacuation site was on the screen, they were desperately looking for their families and acquaintances.

From other prefectures and even from other countries, help came in the form of the self defense forces, support from corporations, drivers who were transporting goods, people from the electricity company, medical staff, etc.

It was all so warm-hearted. Japan isn't half bad just yet.

It's really hard to smile at a time like this, but I did my best to smile when I greeted or thanked people.

Every day is full of heart-breaking things, but to think of how broken-hearted everyone at the evacuation sites are feeling. It's easy to put medicine and a bandage on a physical wound, but it's hard to dress the wounds of someone's heart.

I can only hope that smiling will have at least some slight effect on that wound.

"To feel a smile's attraction / its magical effect on me
It needs no explanation that / we have the power to communicate

Are you smiling now? Not shallow, but from deep inside?

If only we could fill the world / with a laugh that left no room for hate"

—"Fukuwarai" by Yu Takahashi [English translation from http://www.takahashiyu.com ]

Next entry: 12) Standing in someone else's shoes

Translated March 28/April 1.
Original entry in Japanese: 11、スマイル。

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