Today is the 4th of April. the day after my birthday, and the 5th is the day after that. These three, four, and five birthdays in a row have given me unforgettable feelings.
When I was a freshman in college, it was my first day of school. There was an orientation in my class, and the person sitting next to me was Mr. Suzuki. Suzuki-kun was from Ota-ku, Tokyo, and I was from Kyushu, so I think he was the first person I talked to from Tokyo at the university. Strangely enough, we became good friends for four years after sitting next to each other by chance. Suzuki’s father had died and he had been struggling to pay for his prep school tuition with his part-time job since high school, but his personality was generous, cheerful, and he could not tell a lie. He introduced me to good paying part-time jobs when I had never had a part-time job before, and told me many things about metropolitan high schools in Tokyo that made me realize how different it was from Kyushu.
Mr. Suzuki even told me that he had a crush on a girl in his class from Kyushu, and I hoped that the two of them would somehow get along. When I was a senior in college, I was shown a picture of a group of students. “Who do you think is the prettiest girl in this group? I wasn’t sure, but I pointed to two girls. Suzuki-kun looked happy. He told me that he was dating one of them. He said he had given up on the girl from Kyushu. He seemed so happy that I even felt jealous of him. After graduating from university, Mr. Suzuki joined a SE company listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and seemed to have a bright future ahead of him. I was hardly looking for a job and was aiming for graduate school. I still remember his voice clearly. I met him only once after graduation. I remember having a drink with him at a restaurant in Shinbashi where students don’t go. I felt that he had found a job and was doing well. I chided him that he might be getting married soon, but he seemed to be quite happy about it.
Speaking of myself, I had failed my graduate school exams and was living part-time, but I was really hoping that Mr. Suzuki would use the hardships he had endured to succeed.
At the same time, I was calling and sometimes seeing a girl I had been in love with since university. It was not that we were dating. She just went along with my one-sided thoughts. She was from the Tohoku region and was working part-time instead of finding a job. On April 3, one year after graduation, I called her and asked her if I could meet her. She seemed surprised that I hadn’t called her in a long time, but it was on the 4th, I think it was a Sunday evening, a cold day in April, and it was her birthday, and I gave her a birthday present, but she told me she couldn’t see me any more, and I was completely demoralized. I couldn’t stop crying on the bus ride home, but I knew I had to give up. I knew I had to give up now. I returned to my dirty apartment and called Mr. Suzuki. He seemed to be in good spirits, but he didn’t talk about himself and listened to my story in silence. It’s your birthday tomorrow, don’t you wish me luck? Good luck,” was all I could say. I was stupid enough to call her on April 4th. I had already given up on her, but I thought it would be enough if she was fine. I could see the confusion in her eyes at that time. She called me once a year to wish me a happy birthday.
I consciously quit calling her one year when I became too busy with my research. I still didn’t have a girlfriend or anyone I liked, but I was happy just to be able to study English. Just my 30th birthday. 3 a.m. The phone rang. For a moment, her face came to mind. I picked up the phone, but it was silent and I could not hear anything. I repeated, “Hello?” and the phone hung up. I felt a pang in my heart and decided to call her for the first time in April 4. As the machine kept repeating, “The number is not in use,” I felt as if yesterday’s call was a final farewell greeting. I wondered if she had returned to the countryside. On the 5th, I tried to call Mr. Suzuki to wish him a happy birthday. I hadn’t seen Mr. Suzuki for a long time. I also found out that Suzuki’s phone number was no longer in use. I wondered why. Suzuki’s house was his parents’ house and he lived with his mother, but I thought that maybe he had gotten married and changed his residence.
The friends whose birthdays fell on April 3rd, 4th, and 5th in succession were no longer there.
The days of university are now a distant memory, but every time my birthday comes around, I only wish for the safety and health of both of them.