I had memories of being in Japan, and that had helped me many times.
On the other hand, there were times when those memories tormented me.
“…Ah. I have to keep my family mantra.”
My mother was kind but also strict.
Memories had a way of being idealized in one’s head. But I really did think my mother was a kind woman who only became angry if it was something bad.
As she had to work all day, I was often left to my own devices, but it wasn’t as if I was neglected.
When I had bullied a kid in my class, my mother was furious.
“Does your power exist to protect people or to break things? Tell me!”
She looked just like a demon.
Maybe she looked like how I do now. I liked that idea.
I was still in elementary school back then. In the lowest year, I think.
I said that my power was ‘to protect people.’ I think it was just a reflex.
“Then that’s what you should be doing!”
Do not hurt others. Protect them.
If it’s to protect those that are close to you, do not even fear death. That’s how you should think as you live.
That’s what my mother told me when I was young.
“Listen. This is the way that this family behaves. You must not stray from that.”
It wasn’t just ‘protect.’ I was to not fear death while doing so.
Yes, it was a pretty heavy thing to say to a young child.
But upon seeing the real anger in my mother’s eyes, I swore to myself that I would follow those words.
From that day onward, I stopped bullying and started to protect others instead.
Thankfully, I was rather large, and was studying martial arts.
As I was strong, it was possible for me to obey what my mother had taught me.
One day, she said this to me,
“Your father was a strong man. Yes, a very strong man.”
My father had been absent from home for as long as I could remember.
I never really felt sad about it.
Compared to other houses, I just thought, ‘ah, I guess there is no one like that at our house.’ That’s all. And as my mother didn’t seem like she wanted to talk about it. I never asked her.
And so I was very surprised when she brought him up.
“He was so strong. Too strong, really. But more than that, he was a kind man.”
She sounded nostalgic like she was talking about something from a long time ago.
In the end, that was the last time she ever talked about him.
And so there wasn’t much that I knew about my father.
I didn’t even know if he was alive or dead.
We didn’t have a single photo of him and I had no way to find out more about him.
All I knew was that he was very strong and kind.
And that he had protected many people.