'Do you have Japanese music?'
By Kazuya Muto
Two weeks had passed since I'd moved in with Kris and his family. It was in the evening and I was washing dishes, when Kris asked me, "Kazuha (he still can't pronounce my name very well), do you have any Japanese music with you?"
"Japanese music?" I said. "Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean ..."
He repeated his question: "Do you have any Japanese music? Do you have any Japanese CDs?"
"Can you understand Japanese?"
"No!" he said with a smile.
"So why do you want to listen to Japanese music?"
"I'm curious. Maybe Japanese music is different."
Actually, I had brought a lot of Japanese music with me to Australia on my laptop, but I hadn't listened to any of it since getting to Australia. That was because Japanese music reminded me of home. If I listened to Japanese music, I would definitely end up feeling homesick. So I was a little afraid of listening to it.
But then I thought, well, why not? Why not introduce Japanese music to Kris' family? "I like music with a fast beat," he said. So I chose something that I thought he would like. He connected some speakers to my laptop, started playing the music and turned up the volume. Gradually he started moving his body to the beat. Immediately his 9-year-old son, Patrick, came downstairs and he too started moving his body to the music. They laughed as they danced, and they looked like they were really enjoying themselves.
But then, suddenly, I felt tears come to my eyes. I didn't know why. Kris' family noticed. "Are you OK? Are you OK?" they asked me again and again. I couldn't find words to express my feelings. All I could say was: "I'm homesick, but I'm OK now." But I knew it wasn't only because of homesickness. I think I cried because I felt a kind of release. I think I had been unconsciously stressed ever since I had arrived in Sydney, partly because I couldn't express myself naturally. But as I watched Kris and his family dance, I really felt I was accepted by his family. I felt like I was one of them. I felt as if I was in Japan with my own family.
After a few minutes I calmed down. But the atmosphere in the living room was a little bit strange. No one said anything. Then suddenly Kris said, "I'll show you some Indian music in return." He began to sing an Indian song loudly with no accompaniment. Of course it was in Hindi. I couldn't understand it at all. But I felt relaxed as if I could understand what the song meant.
After finishing the song he said to me with a smile, "In India, people sing whenever they feel happy or sad. I mean it when I say 'whenever.' They sing all the time. Also there are many songs they use to worship the gods. Indian life is inseparable from music. I will show you an Indian movie sometime when you have the time."
I could not forget the smile that Kris had on his face. This all happened within the space of 20 minutes, but after it had happened, I felt I could have a more positive attitude to life in Sydney. Maybe I could now start expressing myself more naturally. It was the most memorable day of my time in Australia so far.
Shukan ST: June 2, 2006
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