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I’ve Seen Enough of the City, but I Feel Familiar wi ..


I’ve Seen Enough of the City, but I Feel Familiar with the City

Naoki Hirokoji (Novelist)

I feel familiar with this city, but I sometimes feel I’ve seen enough of it. The city sometimes changes only slightly, as if the seams had split in some parts of the city and they were being sewn up to be mended. Such changes are so slight and gradual that I would not be able to recognize them if I were not attentive enough. This is why I feel that this city has always been the same.
In the evening, every time I stop on a pedestrian bridge and look down on the road, I see cars driving back and forth. If there is no congestion, cars whiz past at an incredible speed. If the road is jammed, cars crawl along, while stopping, moving a little, and stopping again. Beside the road is a sidewalk, where high school students ride bicycles three-abreast while chatting. Hey, you can’t ride bicycles side by side. It’s against the traffic rules! It’s a nuisance! So muttering, I see the students passing a strolling senior citizen, narrowly avoiding colliding with him by slightly narrowing the distance between their rows but still maintaining the formation of the three rows. So dangerous! If he had been hit, he would have been in big trouble. Trying to mutter this, I encounter elementary school students walking in high spirits, one of them swinging a bag-type case probably containing a calligraphy kit. “A bat! This is a bat. I’ll be Hirata. Doesn’t Hirata swing like this?” Using his calligraphy kit case as a bat, he copies the baseball player’s swing. His voice is loud. Regardless of the noise from the cars, I can hear him clearly even though I’m on the pedestrian bridge.
You’re just having fun. But it might be rather inappropriate to use the calligraphy kit case as a bat. Maybe you should use the case as a racket and say “Doesn’t Naomi Osaka serve like this?” The case is too big for a bat, which has a narrow hitting zone. This might be none of my business, but reality is important.
When the children reach an intersection, a horn honks from a car trying to turn left. Watch out! Be careful! Look in front of you when you’re walking. But the driver should also be more careful, because children move unexpectedly.
While seeing these views, I feel that the city should be organized a little more properly so that everyone can come and go in a smoother, smarter, and safer manner. This will surely make the city more comfortable. At the same time, I feel that since the city changes only gradually, a sudden change might be difficult. It takes years to construct a road and months to build a house. A city changes gradually over time, so it’s natural that I feel I’ve seen much of it.
I certainly feel so, but once a sudden change comes in view from the pedestrian bridge, I feel strangely uneasy and sad. The dangerous high school students and the elementary school students are gone, and there seem to be fewer cars on the road than before. Nobody is on the sidewalk, except a masked senior citizen strolling safely and quietly. All I can hear are sounds from the cars. The city has not been organized properly, but seems to be organized well. Hey, you look slightly unhappy in your stroll today. The scenery around us is incredible, like science fiction, though that might sound exaggerated. I feel the city is safe and organized well, but isn’t that strange?
The three high school students on the sidewalk here, and the three elementary school students there. There might have been four elementary school students, but either way, I hope you will come back soon. Your absence makes me feel uneasy. It’s dull. I don’t want to say this, but I miss you. You play the leading role in this city, which I now realize.
I’ve seen enough of this city, but I feel familiar with the city. Even though I feel familiar with the city or I’ve seen enough of the city, I always view this scenery from here, probably because I have developed a liking for the city for some reason.
Today, there is nothing I can do. So I’ll return home and just be good. Things will return to normal in the meantime.
When that happens, I might see scenery slightly different from how it used to be, but the scenery will surely be far more pleasing and beautiful than what I see today.
I’d like to see such scenery until I feel familiar with it and feel that I’ve seen enough of it.




 夕方、歩道橋の上で足を止めて、通りを眺めると、いつでも車が行ったり来たり。道がすいていればすごいスピードで走っていくし、混雑していれば、停まって、ちょっと動いて、また止まって、のろのろ。その脇の歩道の上を、高校生が横三列に並んでおしゃべりをしながら、自転車で走っている。おいおい、並走はダメだ、交通違反だぞ、迷惑だぞ、そんなことを口の中で呟いていると、散歩をしているおじいさんの脇を、三列のままちょっとだけきゅっとなって、ぎりぎりで避けてゆく。危ねえな、もしひっかけでもしたら大変なことになるぞ、なんてことをまた口の中で呟こうとすると、習字道具の入っているらしいカバン型のケースを振り回し、小学生が歩きながらの大盛り上がり。バットね、これ、バットね。おれ、平田。平田の打ち方って、こうじゃね? と習字道具のケースをバットに見立て、野球のスウィングの真似をしている。でっかい声。車の騒音を追い越して、歩道橋の上まで聞こえてくる。
 楽しそうだね。でも、習字道具のケースをバットに見立てるだなんて、ちょっと無理がないかな。そこはラケットにしておいて、大坂なおみ選手のサーブってこうじゃね? としたほうがいいのではないかな。バットにしては、打面が広すぎる。余計なお世話かもしれないけれど、リアリティって大事だよ。
 通行人の高校生、A、B、C。通行人の小学生、その一、その二、その三。あれ? その四もいたかな。まあいいや、とにかく、早く帰ってきてよ。落ち着かないからさ。つまんないからさ。言いたかないけど、寂しいからさ。君たちは、この街の主役なんだ。今、気がついたよ。