I was joining a ship in another town; mother followed me the railway station,
which was not far as we lived nearby? From the train I looked down at her and
saw what I had never seen, a woman with unkempt hair, in an old overcoat
with missing buttons and shoes that needed heeling. There were many other
people on the platform, but she stood out looking like a bag woman.
I felt ashamed and guilty for feeling embarrassed. When returning I will have
money to buy her a new coat, shoes and send her to a hairdresser, I thought.
The train moved forward and I waved as long as I could see her.
A year later my ship had just left Tokyo, bound for the Panama canal, when
the radio operator came into the galley with a cable, I could see in his face he
had no glad tiding. I sat in my cabin grieving, took out the kimono I had bought
her it was made of silk and was as soft as a mother’s embrace; and I cried.
A knock on my door it was the captain who said: “No time for tears son, crew
needs to be fed and you are the cook.“ That night and many nights thereafter
I was lulled asleep by the ship’s steady heartbeat.