Episode 1. The Calypso that was turning into A Dream
“The World Antique Camera Fair” My father’s eyes got glued to the poster of the event that was going to be held at Matsuya Ginza department store in Tokyo. The poster showed an array of rare cameras, and among them, he was captivated by Calypso, a French underwater camera. If you were familiar with cameras you would probably know it, but Calypso, the original model of Nikonos, is a rare antique camera that was manufactured and sold in France in 1960s. Wanting to get the Calypso by all means, my father left Niigata to Tokyo by the first bullet train on the day the event started. When he got to Matsuya, there had already been a long queue. As soon as the department store opened, he ran toward the venue at full speed, and desperately looked for the Calypso. He found it waiting for him but not for anyone. After obtaining the desired camera, he brought it home with caution while feeling a sense of fulfillment.
Although it was late at night when he came back home, to celebrate this big victory, he took out a bottle of whisky and started drinking, while gazing at the Calypso. Could it be for real or just a dream? Recognizing that it was for real made him even happier. “It is not a dream.” After a while, he noticed that the edge of the leather covering the body of camera was coming off just a few millimeters. It was so tiny that without taking a close look he wouldn’t have noticed. As he couldn’t get it out of his mind, he unwisely picked up instant adhesive. However the adhesive seemed being stuck and didn’t come out easily. He squeezed the tube as hard as he could. At that moment, his dream-like time turned into a nightmare. The instant adhesive splattered the Calypso and his mind became completely blank. Nothing good happens when a drunken person felt rushed. The tragedy continued. Being upset, he tried to wipe the adhesive with towel, and this time, he made the Calypso covered with the adhesive. Could it be for real or just a dream? He didn’t want to recognize it to be for a real, so he threw the Calypso and went to bed, believing that it was just a dream. The next morning, he found the miserable looking Calypso on the floor. With that, he finally woke up from the dream.
Episode 2. The Hole on the Moonlight Night
It was when my father was still professional cyclist in his 20s. He was not so particular about clothes, but spending his prize money, he bought a fine overcoat for the first time. The camel colored overcoat that he went all the way to a department store to buy was comfortable and warm with the fur lining.
One night, when there was the beautiful moon in the sky. Wearing the brand-new overcoat, my father was drinking with two of his friends until one o’clock in the middle of the night. The three drunken men were smoking cigarette lying on the riverbank in a good mood. The comfortable cold breeze and the moonlight made him feel as if he was free to talk anything. Being caught up in the conversation with his friends, he accidentally and carelessly dropped his cigarette. Although he tried to look for the cigarette, there was only the moonlight to help him. He wasn’t able to find it in the dark, and he went back to the conversation with his friends. Then, he was basking in the quality of his overcoat. “It was a bit expensive though, it is nice to have high quality. The warmth is so different to those cheap stuffs.” The moment when he felt warm especially around his chest, white smoke curled up just from the area he felt warm, and he was totally confused. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Yes, there was the cigarette he had dropped. ”Oh no!” Being sobered up in an instant, he took off his overcoat, and put out the fire. When he cautiously spread the coat with burnt odor, sure enough, there was a big hole. In the end, he had to be dressed in a cheap overcoat again from the next day.
Episode 3. The Tragedy of Discus
Since that tragic night, my father never has had discus.
It happened when the Aqua Design Amano was just a small shop. Among the many fishes in the shop, discus was special to my father. He reared discuses since they were juvenile. One day, a large tank installed at our home happened to be available. Then, he put 100 of discuses in the tank, and gave them an immersion bath to avoid gill disease. Because discus is liable to gill disease, an immersion bath is necessary after moving them to another tank. After an immersion bath, normally we have to be careful to observe the condition of fish. On that particular day, however, he got careless for no special reason. When he had done the process, being invited by his friends, he went for a drink. While he was drunk and being in a good mood, there was a phone call to the bar. It was from my mother. If you receive a phone call from your wife at drinking table, you would probably get a bad feeling. When he picked up the phone receiver with anxiety, my mother repeated hastily “something is wrong with discus,” at the other end of a phone line. Although it looks unusual to people who are not familiar with discus, it is not rare that they turn to it’s side after the immersion bath. “Don’t worry,” he calmed her down, and kept drinking. However, what he saw in the tank when he came back home drunk were miserable discuses. Due to the abnormal gas, 100 of his precious discuses were completely destroyed, without any survivors. There must have been a defect with the new filter system that he used experimentally. He cried, even though he knew that crying didn’t help at all. “I can’t believe… you were drinking at a time like this.” He was totally ashamed to hear the comment from his wife.
Although my father sometimes creates failure stories, he still says in the end, “Life without alcohol is not my life.”
His experiences tell me that it is not alcohol but we ourselves that cause both tragedy and comedy. Alcohol is always on our side. I believe it is true, at least so far.
text & illustration by Sayuri Amano
English translation by Megumu Ogata