Nori had a difficult life back home. His father abandoned his family when Nori was small, and his mother remarried when Nori was very young and had his little brother
Back to Yanshan Part 2
I left my parents’ house after dinner and came back to my own place. I called Misa and asked if she knew Yanshan. She didn’t, but she insisted on knowing why I was asking. I told her everything I remembered. Misa was interested in my story, and she said she would do some research on her end.
That was 3 days ago, and yesterday Misa called. I hadn’t thought about Yanshan for 3 days, and hearing that name again sort of made my stomach drop. Misa on the other hand seemed to be in good spirits. She said she asked around in town and found out lots of info.
This is what she found out.
・Misa’s father was a highschool classmate of Nori. And he confirmed that Nori was totally healthy and normal both mentally and physically until 20 years old.
・At 20, Nori got involved in a terrible accident on the job and got hospitalized. Nori was working at a construction site when a metal plate fell on his leg. The cause of the metal plate falling was never found out. The injury was so severe that his leg almost amputated.
・He started acting strange while he was in hospital. It started from difficulty in language.
・After leaving the hospital, Nori’s intellectual disabilities continued to get worse. He started wandering around the town alone, speaking to himself, and bursting out laughing out of nowhere.
・Nori had a difficult life back home. His father abandoned his family when Nori was small, and his mother remarried when Nori was very young and had his little brother. But she always loved her new husband and baby more, and always seemed like she wanted to get rid of Nori.
During the time that Nori was in the hospital, his mother showed up only once. She blamed Nori for being careless on the job and getting injured in front of his friends and other patients.
・Around the time Nori was carried to the hospital, there was a young man who also got involved in an accident. He crashed his bike and fractured his skull. He stayed in the same room that Nori stayed. (There was no ICU at this era.) His name was Yamane.
Yamane’s mother and Nori’s friends had exchanged greetings a few times in the hospital room. Seeing the way Nori’s mother treated him, Yamane’s mother often checked up on Nori and cheered him up too, until Yamane died after 3 days.
・ Nori still mentions Yanshan in the nursing home to this day. But the level of his mental disturbance wouldn’t allow him to hold any conversation anymore. So nobody knows what he was talking about or who he may be talking to.
I started thinking. Is that him? Yamane is Yanshan…? They met in the hospital?
So When I was 6, Nori was 45. So that means Nori met Yanshan when he was 20 in the hospital, and by the time I met Nori, they had been playing together for 25 years since they met?
The thought creeped me out.
And it didn’t make sense to me how Nori, who suffered a severe injury to his leg suddenly developed severe intellectual deficiency at the hospital that only got worse over time.
I googled leg injury causing intellectual difficulty. The search turned up barely possible, very unlikely.
I googled Nori’s accident. Of course, there was no result (it is almost 50 years ago).
When I typed Yamane’s bike accident in Fukuoka, I had one hit.
A house burnt down for unknown reason a week ago, killing one woman named Yamane Akemi, age 90. It was the same day that my great-grandmother died.
Same name. But this cannot be related. I brushed it off and forgot about it for a while.
My great-grandmother’s house has been vacant since she had passed away. My relatives had asked me to come over to her place and pick up anything I wanted from her possessions before they get rid of everything and sell the house. So the next weekend, I headed over to my great grandmother’s house.
When I arrived, my relatives were there and had taken some stuff already. I checked around the house looking for things that I might be able to use. I was checking my great-grandmothers’ study when I came across a pile of envelopes.
They all had my great-grandmothers’ name on top, but no sender’s names. I knew I might have been invading my great-grandmothers’ privacy. But I didn’t get a chance to know her when she was alive. I don’t even know what she did for a living. I couldn’t resist the temptation and I opened the envelope.
The first letter said:
“Thank you, you saved my son’s life. Michi”
The second one:
“Please help. My husband is having an affair and the mistress is pregnant. Toki”
The third one:
“Thank God, my enemy is down and my business is thriving! Yamada”
The fourth one:
“I need help. It’s not working. Nae”
The fifth one:
“How long do I have to keep doing this? Is there any other way? Nagi”
What are all these? Was she a shrink or something?
Then I found one letter that says
“My son is dead already. I’m willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes. –Yamane Akemi”
Yamane Akemi. Isn’t that a woman who died in fire? My great-grandmother had a connection with this woman?
Confused. I left the study and walked into the living room area. I found my uncles.
“What was great-grandma’s job? Does any of you guys know?”
One of the uncle answered “Back in the day, she was a so-called shaman. A famous one around here.”
“What? Is that real?”
“Yes. Back in the day, every town had at least one old lady who knew those stuff. It was common”
“Like, a black magic?”
“Yeah. Old people believed in those stuff”
“Curing diseases, fighting bad lucks, arranging good lucks, getting revenge, getting your loved ones to love you etc etc. Great-grandma was paid a good amount of money for it”
“A revenge? Making someone love you? Was she a psychic, or witch, or what?”
“People here used to believe she had, um psychic powers. I wouldn’t call her a witch. But if you ask me, I don’t know if she was a real psychic. I think it was all make-believe, by people’s demand. I think all she did was praying.”
“How come I never heard about this?”
“For one, you weren’t around much, kiddo. And two, because this is something that people don’t talk about. Besides, the time has changed and no one believes in it anymore.
If you say you’re a shaman now, you’d be a freak! But back in the day it was a part of life. I’d say, when I was a child it was still common (My uncle is 50)”
Another uncle said “That’s what happens when people are not too religious. But they always need something to rely on, spiritually.”
I felt like I was thrown into a fantasy movie all of a sudden. A psychic? My own great-grandmother? What are my uncles even talking about?
But the letters were real. I guess they came from her client. This sounds legit.
Not knowing how to comprehend any of this, I wandered back into her study. I started noticing things I didn’t notice before. What I thought was a decorated greeting card in fact looked like talismans (with some foreign letters and unfamiliar patterns on it).
Her table cloth had some mantra-ish designs on it. There were objects here and there that I had thought to be room decorations, that actually looked like they were made from animal carcasses.
I walked back to my uncles.
“I just came back from her study. I get it that she was a shaman, by demand or whatever. But how come her stuff don’t even look Japanese? What are those?”
“Oh, this is Fukuoka, one of the biggest port town. They got things from abroad. Lots of them. I heard great-grandma knew so many different rituals. That’s why she was famous.”
“Have you seen her perform anything? What did she do with those stuff?”
“Never. She didn’t let any family members near her stuff, especially kids. She said if you don’t know how to deal with it, you must stay away from it. Kids are easily lured.”
“Lured by what?”
“I don’t know? Spirits? fairies? I never believed in those stuff anyway.”
“Don’t take her shaman stuff though. You might get cursed!” My uncles laughed.
In my head, my great-grandmother was a generous person who never discriminated Nori like others did. She welcomed him and treated him like her son or grandchild. She wasn’t anything close to the images of “psychic” or “shaman” I had in my head. Then again, I remembered how little I had known about her. After all, the 1 month is all the memory I have with her.
I called Misa.
Me: “Hey. Did you know great-grandma was a shaman, or psychic or whatever?”
Misa: “I’ve heard something like that before. It’s funny that she could make money out of something like that.”
Me: “I found a letter in her drawer from someone named Yamane”
I told Misa about what I found out so far.
Misa: “So you think the Yamane in the letter might have something to do with Yanshan? That’s a stretch”
Me: “Yeah. But can you ask your dad why everyone went quiet at Nori’s picture? It’d be easier for you to ask than me”
Misa: “I’ll try.”
Continue on Yanshan Part 3