The other night we happened to pass by the rusty and leaning tin and wood building where the old lady with the crooked back lives.
It was dark as we drove slowly by. The light that filtered from the dusty second floor window illuminated a few cracked flower pots below. The tomato plants told me that she was still there.
In my mind’s eye I saw her sitting alone at an old wooden zataku that was covered with a yellowed but clean plastic lace table cloth. None of the threadbare zabuton matched. Neither did the fabric edging on the eight sagging tatami mats in the little room where she sat surrounded by old mismatched furniture. Several old calendars were tacked randomly on the walls. None displayed the correct date however the photos decorated drab plaster walls.
A small scroll hung in the tiny tokunoma that was next to the butsudan. On the butsudan were several faded black and white photographs of ancestors long gone and neatly arranged on the little black plastic stand was an old bowl bell, a small wood striker shiny with years of use, a lighter and a few joss sticks.
The incense bowl was set between two small brass vases each holding small white and yellow carnations.
There was no breeze that blew in through the rusty screen on the one window that was open. The smell of grilled saba, grated daikon and incense hung thick- seemingly held in place by the high humidity.
The old lady wiped her brow, took a sip of the can of beer she saved for such a hot summer evening and changed the channel on the TV.
The whir of a greasy, dust laden fan could barely be heard above the blare of the old television that was standing amid a sea of extension cords. Cords that ran snake-like across the tatami and gave life to the hot-water pot, rice cooker and various other dusty little appliances.
Koro had squeezed himself between the old rusty screen and the tiny window ledge. His tail twitching … watching as we passed by on the narrow little road below.