|| “What did you say?” I asked Hiroko.|
“I wanted to know if a similar buddha to the one you bought yesterday might put in an appearance,” she said. Then she, too, smiled.
The shopkeeper returned, carrying a sleeping buddha in each hand. I cried out with delight. The sculptures were almost identical with yesterday’s buddha, except that I found their facial features a little more severe, their expression a little more solemn.
“The shopkeeper received them this very morning,” Hiroko explained. “I am amazed that three sleeping buddhas have appeared to us. The Buddha rewarded you for giving him away. Now you can give one to your sister and one to Mikael for his birthday.”
Which is exactly what I did. But I had, and still have, a suspicion that it was Hiroko’s wish that brought about the appearance of the buddhas.
At the end of November, after Mikael and I had returned home, Hiroko wrote:
“The evergreen camellias already budding. Their leafiness is timelessly shiny, and thus they are committed to the sun summer and winter.”
I gave those three buddhas away, but their message stayed with me. The ABC book that fell to the floor left its message as well, and so did a light phenomenon one summer night twenty years ago, and so did an unknown passer-by in the street.
Whitsun Eve was calm and war. That time of year, nights in my homeland are so light that one can easily see one’s way even in the woods, but nevertheless also dim enough for one to notice the flickering of the glowworms’