For some reason, I felt strange to see my father in Tokyo at the time when I lived alone in Kamakura, a town an hour train ride from Tokyo.
When he came to Tokyo on business, he used to take me out for meal. He always invited me to a good restaurant because it was a rare opportunity.
An early evening time in the big city that is free from tension. “Hey”, my father showed up from between business people after work, and I somehow felt like he was stranger to me.
His formal outfit, perhaps, let him blend into the view of Tokyo and his usual dynamism appeared to be weak. However, on the contrary, it was difficult not to notice his unique aura. “Is it only because I know who my father is, or is it like that for other people too?” Having such thought, I waved my hand at him.
My father is not a so-called “gourmet.” Although he tends to be very particular about his favorite foods, probably he has almost no interest in foods that are lionized by people. For eating out, he loves to go to ordinary places such as a Ramen (Japanese noodle soup dish) shop, a Teishoku (set menu) restaurant, and a Kaiten Zushi (sushi-go-round) restaurant.
However, when it comes to a special time, it is an exception. Needless to say, when he saw his daughter in Tokyo after all this time, he treated her to very tasty meals.
An Italian restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo, was exceptionally good. We ordered a course menu, which was set by the restaurant from antipasto to desert, because we thought that we couldn’t choose what to eat easily.
Tasty wine and meal, and nice atmosphere make us little talkative. At such occasion, both my father and I talk what we usually won’t.
My father, a fast eater usually, enjoyed meal slowly and talked while choosing every word carefully. I deeply felt, “having such kind of time is precious even between parent and child.”
“Life is about making haste slowly. Making haste but it is different from being in a hurry. You must not hurry. Time certainly goes by and passes. Even though you are drifted, you must swim, while watching for timings and opportunities and holding a big picture of your life.” He told me his motto.
The moment when I heard this story, what came up to my mind was the face of Asian Sheepshead Wrasse.
The memorable picture of the huge Asian Sheepshead Wrasse, swimming in the ocean in Sado, that my father won the Grand Prix of Fujifilm Photo Contest. Since I was small, getting it framed, the picture was always put up in our living room.
A fish with a distinctive face formed by a large lump is swimming quietly and grandly in blue and beautiful ocean. Its eyes are looking at somewhere but nowhere. To me, it is the picture I kept seeing since I was small. Then I wondered about the face of Asian Sheepshead. Maybe it was exactly the face of my father that I didn’t know. Suddenly, I thought that way.
“My dad dives in ocean.” As a child, I only recognized like that. Looking at the diving suits and the oxygen tank that were hung in the shed beside the house entrance, I imagined my father diving in impenetrable ocean. To me, at that time, ocean was not a place to long for, rather it was unknown, if anything, terrifying world. Thus, I didn’t ask my father about the ocean so much. I rather tried not to think about it to avoid becoming anxious; probably I would prefer him not to dive so often.
Looking at the picture of the Asian Sheepshead Wrasse in our living room, I blankly imagined the world he went. So many times, my father dived into the world where I was totally unfamiliar. Is it, however, to take pictures of such weird – looking fish…?
“If you have something you want to do, you should do it. I support you. But if you do, you get it right. I, too, still have a place to approach. Although, I count backwards now, and get the things in a way it is possible.”
My father doesn’t eat sweets so much. However, on that day, he surely enjoyed the dolce at the end of the meal.
Since when has my father’s motto been “make haste slowly?” I wonder when people find so-called motto. I’m still not exactly sure what it is for me.
There are words that impress me, remind me of something, and words I want to keep it in my heart. Although I have many favorite words, I still haven’t had the word that I live up to it; the word I can live with.
My father was eloquent on his motto over the slap-up Italian full-course meal. Being treated to a dinner by him, I thought I couldn’t live like him.
It was also strange at the parting. Saying, “have a safe trip back home”, he got a taxi and disappeared into the night of big city. Walking on the street alone, I wondered that the person I was with until just now was “my father”. It was a strange feeling.
It seems like my father is still now swimming slowly but in haste, toward somewhere. I still can’t imagine the world my father dives. However, now that I am old enough to enjoy drinking with him, I would like to know about his world, even if only a little.
The fateful moment when he captured the face of Asian Sheepshead Wrasse. That moment, the moment like that, are always running in front of him without stopping.
I wonder how he looks while he swims in there. This time, I will take a picture of his face.
text & illustration by Sayuri Amano