Saturday, 4 January 2014

Kojima San

An old Japanese couple sitting in a kotatsu. The woman called Kimiko is 80 years old, the man called Katsuji is 83 years old. The old man cannot swallow properly and is constantly in fits of coughs and then subdued silence. The old woman occasionally nods off to sleep and then is alert and awake.

Kimiko: Listen. Are you listening?

Katsuji: (coughs loudly)

Kimiko: Noisy house this

Katsuji: (coughs)

Kimiko: (nods off to sleep)


Katsuji: What happened?

Kimiko: (wakes up) What?

Katusji: What?

Kimiko: You get past 80 and you just don’t know

Katsuji: (coughs)

Kimiko: Listen. Kojima San died


Katsuji: Who? Kojima San.

Kimiko: She’s dead. Fell over.

Katusji: (coughs) I wonder…if at home…how old

Kimiko: The ambulance was there last night

Katusji: (coughs)

Kimiko: 83. When a person gets past 80 you just don’t know

There is a bowl of Japanese rice-crackers (mochi) in the middle of the table. Kimiko reaches her hand in and picks one out to eat

Kimiko: The mochi is hard

Katsuji: Give me some

In the same manner as before Kimiko reaches her hand in to the bowl and gives Katsuji a bit

Kimiko: Make sure you chew properly

Katsuji: (coughs loudly)

Kimiko: Chew properly

Katsuji: (continues coughing)

Kimiko: We’ve all got to chew properly now (nods off to sleep)


Katsuji: You can give the hard bits to the birds

In the silence that follows time is drawn out. The shallow breaths of sleep from Kimiko are barely audible but always there. As she gradually falls in to a heavier sleep Katsuji begins to clap, at first quietly, then getting louder. When the claps become loud enough he begins to sing an old Japanese enca song. A melancholic melody that cuts through the silence

Kimiko: (startles awake) What are you singing? Can’t you be quiet for a while?

Katusji: (ends his clapping then goes back to coughing)

Kimiko: The birds like to peck at these hard bits. Later, I’ll throw them out

Katsuji: Where did she fall?

Kimiko: The daughter was the first to find her. Unconscious


Kimiko: I don’t know. She was so lively, would sing and dance and things

Katusji: Don’t want to fall over past 80. You’ve used up all your chances

Kimiko: That’s right (nods off to sleep)

Katsuji: To recover


Katsuji: Make sure you watch your step (coughs loudly)

Kimiko: (wakes up) Noisy always noisy

The kettle on the stove begins to boil and makes a high pitched whistling sound. The two of them remain there for as long as it takes