Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Firefly

Two years after the end of the war, my mother passed away. Mother's death affected me very deeply. Compared to this sorrow, the great war, while shaking my flesh physically, did not move my spirit in any discernible way.

A few days after my mother's death, I had a strange experience. My house at that time was situated in the remote parts of the Ougigaya valley, where there was a brook running along the path. It was already twilight. As I went out of the gate, I saw a firefly floating through the air. Fireflies are something common in the region at their season. However, it was the very first sighting that particular year.

The firefly appeared large like I had never seen, the light in the dusk shining prominently. My mother has now become a firefly, the thought suddenly occurred to me. Strolling after the floating light, I could not let myself free from this strange idea any more.

Excerpt from the opening sentences of Hideo Kobayashi's unfinished work "Impressions", in which Kobayashi discussed at length the philosophy of Henri Bergson. The war Kobayashi refers to in the text is the Pacific War (1941-1945).

Translation by Ken Mogi.

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