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Many thanks to Mriceman1964 for much help and effort in getting this into some kind of shape, and to Firefly for using all her diplomatic skills to tell me what she really thinks of my work…
An immense debt of gratitude is owed to both of them!
I like this story, which is unusual for me when it comes to my own work, and I hope you like it too. If you do, please rate it, if you don’t please tell me why. This is a story, not real life, and is not based on anything except pure imagination, nor does it reflect the real world; it is not a treatise on human relationships, it is not supposed to be in any place or particular time, nor does it reflect real cultural or sexual attitudes; even the language is slightly suspect, so treat it as a story, because that’s all it is; if you superimpose this story over real life, there will be no 1:1 correspondence, just the odd matching corner here and there; remember, it’s a story, made-up to entertain, and anyone who can’t accept that should look up the meaning of the word. It is set in the landscape of imagination, and has no bearing on reality or real people or places.
My name is John Cameron, but my family and fireside name is Jack, and always has been, except for my Grandad, who invariably calls me Jacko, the same name as his scruffy, smelly Jack Russell. Was he trying to tell me something….?
When I was just over a year old, my parents separated, and my mother brought me back to England from Japan, where we’d lived. My father remained in Osaka, where he was Chief Consular something or other, some sort of senior diplomat with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. He had no interest in coming back to England, he preferred to stay in Japan, and as I had zero interest in ever going back to Japan, especially to see or stay with a man I didn’t know at all, I never saw him again.
Not that I minded; I didn’t remember him at all, only the odd flash of recall when I saw a photo of him at home. My total connection with my father was limited to birthday cards, Christmas presents when I was younger, his payment of my school fees, and the (very) occasional phone call; he wasn’t what you would call the affectionate type. My mother was content to be his best friend, and vice versa, as being husband and wife was something neither one of them could manage to make work. As long-distance best friends their relationship seemed to work well, and both of them were quite happy with that state of affairs, as was I.
I grew up in a fairly large, comfortable house in Copthorne, in Shrewsbury, a small town on the River Severn in the Welsh border marches, a place of no real significance except that it’s the county town of Shropshire. My father paid for me to attend Shrewsbury School as a day-boy, one of the few local boys among a horde of trust-fund boarders.
My mother had the occasional boyfriend as I was growing up, but they left me alone, and I completely ignored them for the most part, an arrangement that suited all parties. As a result, I had no other significant male influence except my grandfather, my mother’s father, who lived in a huge 18th century former Rectory outside Oswestry, about 20 miles from Shrewsbury.
My father married a Japanese lady, Setsuko, not long after he and mother divorced, and about a year later they had a daughter, Teruko, which means ‘Shining Child’ apparently, and once in a while, (especially when she was younger) I would get exquisite little calligraphic birthday and Christmas cards from her, addressed to ‘Revered Elder Brother’ and even a couple of photographs of her over the years.
I could see why she was called ‘Shining Child’. She was very fair-skinned, not that pinkish ‘peaches & cream’ complexion that some Japanese and Korean girls have, more Caucasian, and she had fine, long, light hair, a dark honey-colour, not quite as fair as my father’s, and nothing like mine, which is deep brown, like my mother’s. Taken with her big jet-black eyes, she looked quite arresting, a pretty little kid all around. Her features obviously favoured her mother, as I could see no immediate resemblance between her and my father or myself.
When I was 18, I managed to pass all my A-Level examinations, and applied to university. I wanted to study Mechanical Engineering at Manchester or Imperial College, London, so I dutifully filled in all my applications and sent them off for processing. I had already applied for funding, so I wasn’t going to ask my father; he’d stopped supporting me on my 18th birthday, which was all fine and according to the agreement he and mum had made when they first separated, and it didn’t seem fair to put the arm on him again.
Now that my finals were over, I had a large chunk of the summer recess to kill, and mother suggested I take a few days and go away somewhere, maybe Ayia Napa or Rimini, or maybe Mykonos, go and party, and blow off some post-exam steam. So I went to Rimini with a bunch of school friends, drank a huge amount, and lost weight through partying czech gangbang porno excessively round the clock.
I arrived back home a week later, oozing alcohol from every pore, to terrible news.
My father and Setsuko had been involved in a car accident in Osaka the day before, they both died in the crash, and mum, and I were listed as next of kin. Teruko was only 15, and as her sole relative, I was requested by the British Consulate in Osaka to come and retrieve her.
I arrived in Osaka after a flight lasting almost 14 hours, to find an aide from the British Consul-General and an official from the office of the Shusho, the Prime Minister, waiting for me. It was a courtesy, really, for the consular aide to be there. My father had been killed while he was on personal travel, on holiday for a few days with his family.
Apparently, they were on their way to collect Teruko from boarding school when the accident happened. As he was off the diplomatic reservation, the Consulate were not able to sign any of the police documentation because he was on leave when he died, hence my presence.
The Japanese government, however, were falling over themselves to ease the way for me. It wouldn’t look at all good in the international press to have it known that a senior British diplomat had been killed by a Japanese national, hence the Prime Minister’s aide.
He spent what seemed like an inordinate time apologising for the circumstances leading to the death of my father and his wife, in quite perfect, ‘received-pronunciation’ English. I put him at his ease, assuring him that I didn’t blame him, the Prime Minister, The Emperor, the Japanese people, Mothra, Rodan, or Godzilla; it was a simple, tragic accident, and that these things happen. It seemed to be the only way to calm him down and basically get rid of him.
After the usual courtesies and condolences, the Consular aide got down to my reason for being there.
“I’ll be taking you to see your sister, Mr. Cameron” he told me. “When we heard what had happened, the Consul and his wife picked her up from school and broke the news to her about the accident; she’s staying with the Consul and his family, so I’ll take you there now; I’m sorry, I really don’t envy you right now. Have you met your sister before?”
I had to confess, I only had a couple of old photos of her, taken when she was nine or ten, so I really had no idea what she was like or how she’d react to me.
When we arrived at the Consul’s residence, the British Consul himself, a Mr. Simpson, was waiting for me; he was obviously aware that father had passed away, but so far he’d only told Teruko that they’d been involved in an accident, but hadn’t told her the worst part yet; he thought news like that should come from a family member. After some desultory small talk and passing of condolences, he asked me if I would like to meet her. I assented, and he went into the hallway and called out in Japanese, “Teruko, can you come here please?”
After a few seconds wait, I saw a slight figure coming down the stairs accompanied by an older woman, probably the Consul’s wife.
When she came into the room, I got my first look at my little sister. She was smaller than I expected for a 15 year-old schoolgirl; 5’2″ or so, slim and elfin, with tiny little hands and big, dark, almond eyes, and that vivid, honey-coloured hair, cascading down almost to the small of her back. She looked exquisite, like a porcelain doll. I was a little unsure how to greet her, or whether she spoke any English; did I hug her, kiss her cheek, or just shake hands?
When she saw me her eyes widened, so she obviously recognised me from my photos, and she stopped and smiled hesitantly, before bowing. She then said something formally, almost ritualistically, and I looked helplessly at the Consul for help.
“She said ‘Hello, greetings to revered Elder Brother'” said Mr. Simpson softly. I nodded my thanks to him.
“Teruko, please, be seated, I have very sad news,” and the consul translated for me again. Her eyes got even bigger, and tears began to well up, so I gave her my handkerchief.
“Your mother and my, our, father died of their injuries, I am so sorry” and once again he translated. Her little face crumpled, and tears rolled down her cheeks. I offered her my arm, and she pulled herself into me, crying silently, sobs wracking her slight frame as I held her to me and patted her gently, not sure how to deal with grief like this.
For all I knew, I was now her sole family, and while it was my duty to look after her, I was concerned about dragging her to England when all she knew was Japan. I looked over at Simpson.
“What happens to her now, does she have grandparents or family she could perhaps live with here, rather than me uprooting her to a foreign country?” I asked him, and he gently questioned her once she had calmed down and composed herself a little.
” Teruko, where are your grandparents?”
She looked alarmed, czech harem porno and started talking rapidly.
I sat there while she rattled on, Mr. Simpson’s face becoming more and more sombre, until she’d finished, more tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Jack, she can’t go to her grandparents. What she said was, she can’t live with them, because she’s mixed-race, and because racial purity is so important to Japanese people, she’s effectively an outcast, she has no place in their family, and they can’t, or won’t look after her; it would dishonour them, she’s frightened of what they would do to her, and she asks, no, begs that you, her ‘Revered Elder Brother’ now look after her.
I was appalled; I’d never heard anything so medieval and ridiculous. I thought for a second.
“Mr. Simpson, I need to talk to my mother. Obviously I can’t leave her here by herself. How difficult would it be to get a visa for her to travel to the UK with me?”
“There’s no problem, your father registered her as a British Citizen when she was born, I’ll arrange for a passport to be issued to her, she could go with you as early as tomorrow if it came to it; in fact, I could compel you to take her by appointing you her guardian pro-tem; technically, she’s a British Citizen and a minor in distress and you are her next of kin, but I don’t think it will come to that; will it?” he asked me searchingly.
I put my arm around her, held her small frame close to me and smiled at her, trying to convey reassurance and comfort.
“Mr. Simpson, please tell her exactly what I’m saying,” and he nodded assent.
“Teruko, you are my little sister, and I am taking you to England with me, you will be safe there with my family. We will look after you, you will be part of my family now.”
Simpson spoke briefly with her; she listened carefully, hugged me, and stood to bow again, once more saying something almost ritualistic in its formality.
Simpson smiled.” She said ‘Thank you very much, Revered Older Brother!’ Now, if you want to call home, you should probably do it now; we’re nine hours ahead here, so it’s just about seven a.m. in England, there’s a telephone in the dining room if you want some privacy. The international code is 0044 before the number, and these are secured-lines if that kind of thing concerns you.”
I called home and let mum know what I’d done so far, and that I would have to take Teruko to her home to collect her stuff. Mum had cried a little more; I guess me telling her baldly about the things I was having to do now really drove home to her that he was dead and gone. She and father may have been divorced for many years, but they still loved each other, they just weren’t in love with each other, and they were old friends to boot, so the fact of his death had hit her quite hard.
I told her what was likely to happen to Teruko if I left her here alone, and that I’d sort of pledged to look after her, and mum agreed: a civilised man doesn’t abandon a child like that. For the first time ever, she actually told me she was proud of me, which made me feel good inside. She also pointed out that Granddad would be pleased; Teruko was the grand-daughter of his oldest friend, and he would happily support us if we brought her into our family.
The consulate’s services group had agreed to arrange the funeral for father and Setsuko, and promised they would be in touch with Teruko’s guardian (me, I suppose) or her trustees regarding father’s Civil Service pensions, his Death-In-Service benefits, and his property and effects. As I was over 18, and her brother, the Consul-General wasted no time in appointing me her legal guardian pro-tem and releasing her into my care.
Going through my father’s home with Teruko was a strange and eerie experience. Even though I had no real memory of him, the sense of his presence was everywhere, from his shaving kit laid out the bathroom, to what was obviously his favourite coffee mug on the counter in the kitchen, to the clutter of assorted keys, coins, cufflinks, and other paraphernalia in a tray on his dresser.
Teruko mainly wanted her clothes, and I helped her pack a holdall with an amazing number of ‘Hello Kitty’ and ‘Keroppi’ T-shirts, windcheaters, and plastic rain capes, although I did grab a couple of padded jackets for her; England can be cold and damply unpredictable, even in summer.
She stuffed another bag with a pile of photo albums of her mother and father, and some family memento’s. Poor little Teruko was in tears by the time we left, this was her home, but her parents were never coming back, and she was being taken to a foreign country. I didn’t blame her for crying, to be honest I was feeling pretty rotten myself by now; I’d never really made an effort to connect with my father, and now I never could.
She held my hand all the way back to the Residency, tears streaming down her face, and all I could do was pat her hand…
When we got back, we had dinner with the Simpsons, czech sharking porno and then Mrs. Simpson took Teruko to her room and got her settled. I was shown to another guest room, where I soon discovered I couldn’t sleep, the events of the day playing out in my head over and over again. I tossed and turned for several hours, before finally turning on a bedside lamp and fishing out a book from my flight bag. I had barely begun reading when there was a light tap on the door. I investigated, and there was Teruko, in a floor length nightgown, eyes bright with un-shed tears, looking small and vulnerable. I gestured for her to come in, and she came in and sat on my bed, lip trembling. I sat next to her and tried to dry her eyes, but she buried her face in my shoulder and cried.
I don’t know how long we sat like that, but at last her tears dried up, and she hugged onto me. At some point she decided she wanted to talk, and she just talked, an endless stream of fluting, liquid syllables, rising and falling in tone, expressive and melodic. Japanese is a nine-toned language, and the constantly shifting tonal phrasing was musical and hypnotic. I began to catch the words ‘Haha’ and ‘Chichi’, the words for Mother and Father, so I knew she was telling me about her parents. Her monologue went on and on; obviously she had a lot to tell me, and I was fascinated, and half hypnotised, listening to the cadence of her speech. Obviously I couldn’t understand what she was saying, so I began making up stories to myself about what she was telling me, about her parents, school, family holidays, and her friends.
She stopped now and then to politely yawn, and I sat more comfortably on my bed, leaning against the backrest with the pillows piled up to prop me up, and Teruko huddled up against me, with my arm around her, still talking, but slower now, yawning very prettily, her speech becoming blurry as she talked herself out.
We must have fallen asleep together, and I awoke to find her fast asleep against me, her hand clutched around my arm as she huddled against me under my arm. She looked even younger asleep, her bottom lip pooched-out adorably, and I felt a wave of compassion and sorrow for her. No-one should have to undergo what had happened to her; what would have happened to her if I hadn’t turned up, who would have taken her, where would she have gone? I shuddered to think; at least she would be safe with Mother and me, with Granddad as a backup.
The funeral was a week later, at the Catholic Cathedral in Osaka, and my father and his wife were buried in the Uriwari Memorial Park cemetery, a non-denominational cemetery for interfaith and non-Shinto burials. It was a strange, almost surreal experience. Mother was unable to attend, her job commitments wouldn’t allow it, and the only other mourners were Consular staff who were ordered to be there, plus a few stragglers from the various foreign legations, Charges-d’affaires and Consulates in Osaka. We did get a brief murmured condolence from the British Ambassador from Tokyo, and a tele-message from 10 Downing Street, and that was that.
After that, there seemed nothing to do except come home, bring Teruko back to her new life, and hope she could adjust to a new country, a new language and customs, and vastly different surroundings. She seemed resigned, she knew the alternative that waited for her in Japan with no family to protect or shelter her.
Mum met us at Heathrow, with a long padded coat and soft, warm gloves for Teruko; the weather had taken a turn for the worse, and it felt more like late autumn than late summer. She was able to hold a halting conversation with Teruko, her long-ago memories of Japanese gradually reawakening now that she was conversing with a native speaker again.
It was dark when we finally arrived back home in Shropshire, Teruko’s eyes large and astonished at the size of the house, the number of rooms, and the size of the kitchen and bathrooms. She was a little daunted by the space we had, as houses in Japan, unless you’re very well-off, are small, compact, and huddled together. Our house, standing alone with gardens all round it must have seemed impossibly huge to her after the apartment in Osaka.
Mum had made steamed fish and rice, Miso soup and Ramen noodles, to give Teruko a taste of home, and it only took a short while to heat it up for dinner. Teruko ate in silence, answering mum’s questions but asking none of her own. When she yawned, mum asked her if she would like to sleep now, and when she nodded, she showed her to her room. She was half-way up the stairs when she stopped and looked back at me, saying something.
I looked enquiringly at Mum, who smiled at me.
“She’s asking you to come with her, she’s calling you ‘Onii-san’, it means ‘big brother’. You should call her ‘Imoto’; it means little ‘sister’. It’s a lot less formal than using her full name all the time.”
I followed them upstairs and showed Teruko her room; again she was wide-eyed at how much space she was going to occupy. I showed her how the aging shower unit worked in the family bathroom, and where my room was in case she got frightened or confused, mum translating as best she could. Once she was settled in, I was done; it had been a long flight, followed by a long drive, and I was bushed, so I headed off to bed.
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