• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 02
Image by


You know how it is when you don’t speak the language but you long to say something? When even the street signs are written in characters you can’t understand? When you’ve run out of money and you dread earning it the only way left to you? That’s when your heart, which is not in good shape anyway, fills with fear. That’s when you sit down on the pavement, put your head in your hands and feel your heart break.

You see the feet of all the people, hurrying by. Not one pair stops. Not one voice asks if you’re all right. But when you do look up, you see something, someone, a presence, sitting beside you. It’s wrapped in a hooded garment (to keep out the rain?) but you feel it, still and calming, beside you. And your fear disappears.

A hand stretches out towards you and you see its pale arm, its wrist, and the lines crisscrossing its palm and its fingers. You think it must be a very old hand. You summon your courage and take the hand in both of yours.

The hand guides your hands to your heart and rests them there. You hold onto the hand, press it to your heart and you cry the tears you’ve been holding back for so long. When you stop crying a voice says, ‘Kin’. And, ‘Sudgi’. ‘Kinsudgi’. And you repeat the word, even though you don’t know what it means, because it’s a comforting, soothing word. And you feel stronger as you say, ‘Kinsudgi… Kinsudgi’. And you wonder if, perhaps, your heart isn’t quite as broken as you thought? And you decide to find out what this, your first word in Japanese, means.