Pensée et Existence

“How many years has it been since I last travelled on my own?” Taeko began to wonder and muse a lot, while strolling like a flâneuse along the shopping street of Gion at Kyoto.

With both lives of her parents claimed in a traffic accident at the age of seven, Taeko had thus been adopted by the elder brother of her father; she had developed a pessimistic outlook on life, which was always ephemeral, feeble. Certainly not cold-hearted, her uncle had yet been trapped by traditional values, and between Taeko and him was an eternal unpluggable abyss.

When fifteen, and simply in her first year of high school, she had had high enthusiasm for reading, and had aspired to apply for some national universities in future. Her uncle, having heard her confessions, began to wince, his face clouding over with anxiety.

“What has it to do with a girl who studies that much? Non-sense! Your task is to get married early and have children, don’t you understand?”

A taste of disgust for the words of her uncle still lingered around her mind. Can a mere generation gap give rise to such a great discrepancy of values? Thus she swore, more strongly than ever, to live alone after graduating from high school.

In order to hoard sufficient money to fulfill her plan, she had worked part time, and had studied hard for the rest of time. Three years of her efforts had proved not to be in vain, for she was at last admitted by a Tokyo national university. Upon receiving the letter of admittance, Taeko was so delighted, as though those seeds she had sowed now sprouted, and blossomed beauteously after years of meticulous care. More pleasure and joyfulness followed at last, she thought, despite all the agony she had faced.

Majoring in French literature, she immersed herself more in reading. The famous adage of Descartes “I think, therefor I am” used to be her motto. “However trivial human being was”, she believed, “every living shall give a meaning if one never cease to think”. Yes, men are all weak, but just as Pascal said likewise, “men are contemplative reeds”. Thus Taeko held unshakable belief that living is meaning.

When she was a sophomore, at an informal gathering, a third-year Chemistry student called Fujii caught her first sight, so they started the relationship. But a year later, he sought a breakup with her out of some incomprehension reason, a reason called “my-heart-has-turned-cold”.

That was the first time she began to be suspicious of her own faith. “Can my existence be proved if I persist in thinking?” She was bewildered, “Am I the only one who is thinking? Even though I think as I am, isn’t there no way for the others to know it?”

Almost in her mid-twenties, Taeko suddenly stood still on a bridge hanging over a vast expanse of river. For a while, she was gazing intently at the thick clouds floating along the distant heaven.

[First written in Japanese on 9th April, 2016 by James; rewritten/translated into English on 22nd October, 2016]

[Featured image taken by James on 4th April, 2016]













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