White Opal (白いオパール)

White OPAL

Years and years ago I was most relieved that I got to marry a decent man approved by my relatives and society.  It was what had been expected of my social position and I counted on my inner strength to live up to it.  However, my father had been stationed in Europe for many years and as a child I went with him.  This experience had influenced me more than I ever realized.  Unable to live a person that was not me, I left the marriage much to the dismay of my relatives.  Stigma of divorced has softened these days, but back then it was either I remarried or branded disgrace in Japan.  Having no stomach to face either I decided to flee.  I travelled around a bit but eventually settled down in Sydney-the land of sunshine and smiles. 

Whether it was due to my divorce or just my nature, I preferred my company.  Sydney offers a plenty of pubs where people go in hope to meet people.  A Tassie girl from Hobart met the future King of Denmark in a pub too.  However, I refused to go to pubs after I learnt how the Aussie men conceived of Japanese women.  Girls of the generation after me were liberated from the old conception that girls must remain untouched until the wedding night.  That’s good for them.  However, they were still obliging Japanese women inside despite their modern appearance.  Combined these two elements it may have sent out a wrong message that Japanese girls were ‘very willing.’  At least one Aussie dude whom I met at work blatantly took it for granted that I would yield despite my reserved conservative stance.   Needless to say I cut him dead.  While there have been several overtures since then, I have been comfortable with my abstemious life. 

Therefore, I did not react to this gentlemen for many years though the shadow across his eyes slightly piqued my interest.  I had been in Australia long enough to know that there were more to Australians’ smiles than meet the eyes, but that  resigned loneliness he carried about him was in a stark contrast to the lightness drenched with sunshine.  I was puzzled because he was leading a successful life in every way.  For a split second I wished I knew how to make him smile.  However, I respected him too much to meddle and my mind slipped back into my solitary life.  

But when I decided to uproot myself from Sydney, I thought of him.  As my neighbours and a few acquaintance were rapidly turning into figures of the past, this gentleman I faintly wished to see before I left.  I contacted him not expecting to hear back, but he remembered me.  I was suddenly thrilled to see him again.  Maybe I was human after all.  To be continued. 

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Copyright 2013 by Mirror Miroir/THE THIRD RED APPLE All Rights Reserved. 

何年前になりますやら、親戚も認め世間体を満たす相手と結婚できたと安堵していました。令嬢じゃありませんがそれなりの実家でしたので胸のときめきは無くても意志の強さで結婚を全うするつもりでした。ところが結婚前に親の転勤で数年過ごした欧州の空気が自分でも気づかないほど影響していたのです。自分じゃない人物を生きる事ができなくなり離婚しました。再婚する勇気も世間の冷たい目にさらされるのも嫌で海外へ逃げちゃいました。色々回って落ち着いたのが太陽と笑顔の国、オーストラリアでした。 

離婚のせいか、生まれつきか、一人で過ごしたかったのです。シドニーはパブが沢山あり出会いを求めて男女が繰り出します。タスマニア島から出てきたオージー女性が将来のデンマーク国王と出会ったのもパブでした。でも私はパブに出入りしなかったのは日本女性の悪評を耳にしたからです。若い女性が自由に解放されたのは良いことですが、中身はまだまだ「相手に悪いから」と合わせてしまいます。結果、豪州男性に日本女性は「簡単」という印象を与えてしまったようです。私がいくら保守的に控えめにしていても職場のある男性が馴れ馴れしくするので頭にきました。断ったら逆キレされたのには閉口。そんな事もあって物好きな男性からお誘いがあっても私は家に籠る生活を気に入ってました。 

だから長い年月の間、ある一人の男性にも反応しませんでした。ただ彼が暗い目をしていたのが気になりました。オーストラリア人の笑顔の裏はもう分かっていましたが、それでも彼の諦めたような寂しさは太陽の光溢れる明るさの中で対照的なのです。仕事も全て成功を収めていた人なので何が不足なのか不思議。彼を笑顔に出来たらいいなと心にちらと過りましたが、僭越な考えはすぐに忘れ自分の世界に戻りました。

 でもシドニーを離れると決めた時、思い出したのは彼のことでした。隣人や数少ない知り合いが素早く過去の存在になっていく中、この紳士だけは仄かに会いたいと思ったのです。ダメもとで連絡したら覚えてくれていました。急に再会に浮き立つ自分も「女」だったのでしょうか。続く。 

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