That looks like my toy, but why is it so small…and blue? And why is she playing with it?
How did she get in here? Haha will be angry when she finds another child in the zashiki playing with my toy; she always says, “This room is only meant for guests and special ceremonies, not children.” Haha will see and then she’ll say loudly, “Hey! Hey you! put that down; it belongs to my son!” And then this girl will leave and I can play with my little toy boat.
The zashiki looks strange to me today; where are the photos of obaachan and ojiisan? Where is the lucky scroll painting of the koi fish?
Oh, you’re in there, Haha? Haha! Haaaaahaaaaa!
Haha, come tell this girl to leave! Haha?
Why doesn’t Haha turn around and look at me? I’m getting angry now. Haha always tells me that little boys who get angry the way I do appear as if they’re possessed by an evil spirit. She’s always telling me, “You must control yourself when you feel this way.” I’m still not sure how though.
So, who are you? Well? Do you hear me talking to you? Won’t you say something? Why are you in my house? Well? Am I invisible?
Amazing, she must be deaf or dumb. Haha always says that I shouldn’t stare at such kids…oh no, now she’s crying. I hate that sound and I’m glad I never had a little sister. You there! Stop it! Yamite! Shizuka! Be quiet!
Maybe I should do something to catch Haha’s attention. Maybe just a little slam of this paper shoji screen.
Oh, you DO see me now? Just wait until Haha sees YOU!
Sometimes I see a boy, but he isn’t a boy at all. Sometimes he points at me and squints his eyes. His mouth moves but I don’t hear anything. He looks angry, like he’s yelling at me.
I don’t like when people yell at me.
Sometimes I see him while I’m in that room. I’d better slide back the shoji screen and check the room before going to get my toy. Nope, no boy here. Not yet. No one here today but for Granny in the kitchen. She watches me during the day while Chichi is at work.
This zashiki is a sad room, or that’s what my Granny says when she thinks I can’t hear her. “Such a sad room,” she mutters. She asks me not to come in here but it’s so cold in my room and so much warmer here near the kitchen, nearer to Granny. And I can see photos of my mother and my grandfather in here. I like to see photos because I can’t see my mother or grandfather anymore. There is also a gold buddha, some incense sticks, and little plum candies next to the photos in a small glass dish shaped like a shell; they are the kind of candy that make my cheeks hurt and my tongue burn. I don’t know why these are here because my mother never liked plum candies either. Neither did my grandfather.
This toy car is fun because it rolls down things and goes very fast.
I like when the car goes-
Uh oh. If I stay very still and pretend he’s not there maybe he won’t notice me.
Granny wants me to get my eyes checked. That’s what she says sometimes, “Miho, you need to get your eyes checked.” She doesn’t believe that I sometimes see the boy who’s not a boy. Sometimes I’m not even sure I see him, but I can see him now. One minute he’s there huffing and puffing and pointing and jumping, and then there’s just the incense swirling through the air. No boy. What does he want today?
Please stay there. Please don’t come closer. You’re scaring me. Uh oh.
I don’t care if I do cry because Granny will come to me and she’ll make you go away. Granny! GRANNY!
That’s just about enough! That’s right, I’m looking at you. BRAT!
(inspired by the zashiki warashi legends of Japan: https://yokai.com/zashikiwarashi/)
Featured image by egetprep for Pixabay