Let me introduce you to Moeko, a ninensei I met last year. My very first week at her school, I was in the gym watching a Sports Day practice. She came and sat down beside me, and had a conversation with me – in English! With her level, I thought she was an exceptionally skilled sannensei, so I was shocked to find out she was an ichinensei.
In class she’s always very quiet. She barely smiles at some of my jokes and antics, which crack the other students up. Whenever we do a writing exercise, most students just do the required 3-4 sentences, but Moeko turns in two paragraphs. Sometimes she’ll come up to me after class, and ask me a question in English or just start a conversation.
Her birthday was in November. I congratulated her, and she asked me when mine was. I told her it was in January. She said, in English, “I will make a card and present for you. Please look forward to it.” I thought that was just about the sweetest thing I’d ever heard, but I certainly didn’t expect her to remember, much less actually give me something.
December had been particularly hard, since this was when the long and excruciating process of breaking up with my ex started. It finally ended on a Saturday, the day after my birthday. My ex had forgotten my birthday, and when I called her about it, I found that she’d spent the day fucking the 5th guy she cheated on me with, the one who would finally put the last nail in the coffin. I don’t remember Sunday, but I don’t imagine it was a particularly bright and chipper day.
Then on Monday, I went to Moeko’s class.
It was any other class, really. Moeko was her usual self, smiling awkwardly at my jokes and quietly doing her work. I remembered what she said back in November, but dismissed the thought. After class ended, she came up to me and, as she said she would, gave me a card and present. I was surprised. Not only did she remember, she carried through with it! I thanked her profusely, and returned back to the teachers’ room with my gift. And then I was floored.
Inside of a delicately wrapped package was a hand-made owl. Completely hand-made; there was nothing even remotely factory about it. There was also a hand-made little basket, with a scroll inside. The scroll read, in English, “This is the year of the cock. So this owl is our mascot.” Inside the card she’d made all sorts of really cute and skilled drawings, along with “Happy Birthday!” in English, and the one that really got to me, “If you are happy, I am happy, too.”
I couldn’t believe it. To get anything at all is extraordinary, but THIS?! It was simply amazing. Especially compared to how my ex had “remembered” my birthday just three days before. It was one hell of a contrast, and it’d be an understatement to say I was moved.
If you’ve read some of the other entries on this site, you may know that at times I am a nice guy. However, I come from a background where people never did anything for me, and I went out of my way to make people happy. That alone was enough for me; I didn’t expect reciprocation. But I found that when I went through rough times, those I did so much for were nowhere to be found. It hurt, a lot, and forced me to change who I was. No longer did I do things simply for people’s happiness; I didn’t do things for people at all. If I did, it was with, “What do I get out of it?” in mind. At times, I wasn’t even remotely nice to the general population.
Eventually and I was able to become less of a jerk, but I still didn’t do things for others unless they’d established themselves as a friend, and I saw some possible benefit for myself in it. Then my girlfriend came along, and slowly I opened up to her as I loved her. I went out of my way, pretty much all the time, for her – sacrificing a lot of time and money, among other things. She rarely if ever reciprocated, and it did bother me, but I held my ground and hoped one day she’d change and be more giving.
Then, that bitch hurt me in the worst possible way. I mean, I’ve been counselor to a lot of love problems, and I’ve heard a lot of downright shitty treatment, but I honestly can’t think of anything worse than what she did. Yeah, she’s a terrible person and I am in no way responsible for the break-up, but I was angry at myself. I’d done it again. I’d given my all for someone so wretched, so undeserving. More than her awfulness, that was eating me inside. I felt my heart turning black again, as I wondered what the point of ever being nice was.
And now I’ve got Moeko’s owl.
I sat there, trying to figure out why she would do this. The card alone must have taken hours to draw and color. I can’t possibly imagine how much effort she would have had to put into the owl and basket. Why? She knows I’m already very impressed with her. She knows I have no influence over her grades. There’s nothing in it for her… Why? I would have been thrilled if she’d given me a store-bought card and Hello Kitty, but she went through the trouble to MAKE all that stuff! Why? And then I came back to the card. “If you are happy, I am happy, too.”
It’s how I used to be.
I sat at my desk holding the owl, and my eyes filled with tears. I felt any darkness looming over my heart starting to dissipate. I couldn’t even think about my ex-girlfriend’s treachery. All I could do was look at this owl – this amazing little owl – and choke back tears. For once, someone’s kindness, someone’s sacrifice, had not been wasted.
When I saw her the next day, I told her really, truly, honestly thank you. That I loved the gift and it moved me very much.
She gave her usual sort-of-awkward smile and said in English, “I made it.”
The magnitude of the gift, and the timing… I don’t know if she will ever truly understand what she did for me. Maybe she doesn’t have to.
“If you are happy, I am happy, too.”
I don’t where my life’s travels will take me, and I can’t make any promises, or be certain of anything. There is one thing I can guarantee, though. No matter where I end up, Moeko’s owl will come with me. If I ever doubt myself, all I will need to do is look at it. And I will never, ever forget little Moeko. Never let the world change you, Moeko, because you have the power to save the world. I know, because you saved me.