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A romance from Kyoichi
About the novel
The name of this book is Socrates in Love ("Crying Out Love, In the Center of the World"), and its author is Kyoichi Katayama, born January 5, 1959. He published it in 2001. The novel is full of love and drama, also, it has many descriptions about the landscapes and the situations that his characters are living.
What is it about?
Saku (Sakutaro) woke up crying as usual. His mother approached to him and told Saku that it was time to get up because he was going to have a long trip. He was at his father's car, inside of it there was the father of Aki and his wife, who was carrying in her arms an urn with ashes. next to her was Saku. It was a very cold day due to snow. All of them were heading to the airport, their destination was Cairns, Autralia, the place that Aki wanted to visited for years. However the reason for their trip was not on vacation, they would only stay one night in Cairns and then they will come back.
4 months ago she was still alive...
In second year of high school, Saku and Aki were together in school, they were delegates in their classroom, that meant, that they represented their whole class. Their first task was to go to the hospital and visit a classmate, since he had an accident and his leg was broken, Ryunosuke was his name, but they called him Oki. When they arrived to his room, Saku didn´t say anything, all the time it was Aki who spoke until the topic of conversation changed: the reason for their names. In the case of Oki, it was due to his parents, they called him that way in honor of Ryunosuke Akutagawa, a japanese author, and Saku was named like by his grandfather, in honor of Sakutaro hagiwara, another Japanese author.
When they return from the hospital, instead of returning to school, Aki and Saku went to visit "the Castle". As they walked, they talked a little. He liked to practice kendo, a martial art, and listen to rock music. She likes the hydrangeas, a flower. Since that day, their classmates were very jealous of Saku. Aki was considered very popular and had several admirers, some of them even beat him to intimidate him so he would stopped talking to her ,but a few punches and threats weren´t enough to make that happened.
Saku´s house was very close to a library, place where her mother worked. Sometimes he had to helped her, especially during the holidays or when there were many clients.
At his school, his classroom was going to interpret a theatre play, Romeo and Juliet. Saku and Aki were chosen to act as the two lovers, but Aki became ill. She liked a radio station which broadcasted songs that could be dedicated by the public to someone special, so Saku wrote a postcard to the radio station to ask for a special song to Aki, however, in order to achieve it, he invented a very sad story, that the girl he wanted to listen to that song was seriously ill in the hospital because had leukemia, and that's how he got that the radio station transmitted for her the song "Tonight" from West Side Story. Aki heard it, and despite she was a bit happy she scolded him for inventing something so cruel.
In their third year of high school, they were in separate classrooms, but as they continued being delegates Aki and Saku could talk at least once a week. When summer holidays arrived, she went to the library were Saku helped his mother, allowing them to spend a lot of time together. After summer, Aki gave Saku a journey ( Japanese tradition common among couples) so he write in it and then they could exchange his journey with hers.
That year, Aki´s teacher died due to cancer. The professor was 50 years old. During her funeral, students and teachers assisted. Aki was the one that gave the speech to her teacher. While she pronounced it, Saku noticed something different in her, he didn´t see her as a child anymore, but as a woman and finally, he recognized that he was in love with her.
At the Institute, they were in the same classroom and sat together almost always in all their classes. He was madly in love with her and Aki felt the same way about him. At that moment, all the happiness he felt frightened him, he feared to lose her someday. Each day was beautiful with her, they even walked after school together, he didn´t want that to end.
Saku's grandfather began to live in another apartment after his wife died. His grandfather was born in the countryside and he had land, however he lost it and decided to go to Tokyo to try his luck in business. There, he got rich and had his own company. Years later he married Saku´s grandmother and they had just one son. His grandfather left the company to become Deputy, but he lost a lot of money in his political campaigns
One day, when Saku went to visit his grandfather told him that many years ago, before he met his future wife, he was in love with a girl, and she was in love with him. They had 17 or 18 years old, but she was sick with tuberculosis at that time. He did not think he would live, but she was still alive after he returned from the army. To make her feel better, he decided to make money, regardless that where he worked was an illegal businesses, he just wanted her be well taken care of. When they discovered the cure for tuberculosis, she got cured and they decided to marry, but her parents did not let them, because Saku´s grandpa worked in illegal business, so she married with another man and he got married with Grandma. Despite the years, he was still in love with that woman, although she died. He wanted to be with her in some way, so he asked his grandson, Saku, to help him get her ashes.
Saku told Aki the story of his grandfather and the favor he had asked him. She was profoundly moved. During classes, they were talking about it and the teacher punished them for the rest of the class, yet they continued. The subject changed, now they were speaking about whether they believed in the other world and the existence of God. Their teacher punished them again and sent them to the hall. This didn´t prevent them to continuing with their theme. There was no other remedy, the teacher and their tutor scolded them and they finally stopped talking. On the way home, Aki asked Saku to help his grandfather, so he accepted.
On a Saturday night, Saku was with his grandfather. They went to the cemetery. When they arrived at that woman´s grave, they prayed and then got ready to dig and remove her urn. His grandfather extracted a bit of ashes and I kept them, then, he returned the urn to its place.
When they returned to the apartment, his grandfather asked him to scatter his ashes when he die, along with hers. Saku initially didn't want to, he even consider that he was a selfish man, that he might be incriminated for stealing from a grave. In the end, he accepts, whe his grangpa dies he must spread their ashes on a mountain, near a place where wild flowers grow up. The next day he told to Aki his adventure and that strange request from his granpa. They began to talk about death and she asked him that he also should spread her ashes when she dies, this subject was not pleasent to Saku she had still many years of life. That night, the sky was full of stars, that night they decided to forget about everything and focus in themselves, in what they felt... love.
One fay, Oki spoke with Saku.He asked him if Aki was his girlfriend and if he had done something more than kissed her. Saku answered him with a "no". Once, after the couple visited the Zoo, Saku and Aki entered to a hotel, but she decided that it was best to leave. So Oki decided to help him.There was an uninhabited island, Yumejima, where he lives, that Saku should go there with his girlfriend and that he would help him to create the ideal situation to spend a night with Aki. Unfortunately for him, nothing happened the day the couple visited the island because Aki discovered the plan, however, they could enjoy a night full of fireflies, and that made him happy too. Someday eill be "their special day", there was no rush.
Nevertheless, Aki got sick again, but this time it was something serious: Aplastic Anemia. To visit her, Saku had to be disinfected and wear a special outfit. She was very depressed and she started to think about her death. Her hair fall down so she had to cut it, and her humor was constantly changing, all that made her cried. Saku was not aware of the severity of their disease until that time. Every day her face was thinner since she couldn´t eat anything without having nausea. To help her, Saku searched in the encyclopedia it was aplastic anemia and how she could get better, but as soon as he saw the word "leukemia" he got scared. Aki was terrified of the idea that the medication she was receiving didn´t work, however Aki improved.
Aki´s mother spoke with Saku of her daughter´s illness. . The Doctor have told her that she had leukemia and its treatment lasts from 2 to 5 years. She wanted to take Aki to Australia as soon as she improved and the doctor discharged her. She also invited Saku to that trip, because she knew how much he loved her daughter, but Aki improved and then got worse, she was encouraged and then depressed. Her change of medication didn´t work and she felt that she was dying, even so, Saku didn´t give. He wanted to bring her to Australia, he even planned their scape and the trip, but as soon as they left the hospital she collapsed. A few hours later, Aki´s heart stop beating, she was gone. Will Saku be able to overcome this?