5. Sky (2)

Oya? (Oh?)
Is this a vegetable store? Am I at its front?
It must be time before lunch. Someone is entering. She may be an Oku-san (homemaker) in the neighborhood.

Okami-san (lady owner) talks to Oku-san.
"Hello. How can I help you? We received new Japanese tea today. Greenpeas, shiso (perilla) and rakkyo (shallot) have just arrived from Yachimata. The strawberries are delicious."
Okami-san is busy pointing out each vegetable.
The lady customer smiles and says,
"You are right. I 'd like a basket of greenpeas and rakkyo each. Besides, two boxes of strawberries, please."

..... !!
Yes! Strawberry! Looks so delicious. If it were Oka-san, she would let me eat a little! Well, how is Oka-san now...?

Oku-san: "Ara?! Cute parakeet!"
Okami-san, noddingly: "Where has it flied from?"
Oku-san: "It looks tired."
Okami-san: "Poor thing! I wonder who it belongs to."
Oku-san: "It seems to want a strawberry, doesn't it?"
Okami-san: "Shall I let it eat one?"
Oku-san: "Come, come"
Okami-san: "Come here."

I am glad. Okami-san is selecting a very delicious one. Not knowing, I cried in a low voice.
"Pea-chan dayo. Daisuki. Oishii." (I am Pea-chan. I like it. Delicious.)
Both of them looked surprised.
"This child is talking!"
"True! It's surprising."

What a delicious strawberry! As I am hungry, it is much more delicious than usual. I talk to myself.
"Oishii. Pea-chan dayo. Iiko-dayo." (Delicious. I am Pea-chan. I am a good boy.)
They are glad to see and hear me.
"You are a boy! What a cute boy you are."
"True, good boy. Your name is Pea-chan!"

Oku-san noticed something and her face paled.
".....? Look at the feet of this bird. Something is wrong."
Okami-san (lady owner) answers.
"?? Yes, the left foot has only an ankle."
Oku-san: "There is something wrong with the right foot, too. Looks paralyzed."
Okami-san: "Poor thing."
Oku-san: "True, poor Pea-chan."

For myself, on the contrary. I have to eat strawberries as much as possible, because I don't know when they are taken away.

Oku-san calls out to me.
"You are a good boy. Come, come, Pea-chan!"
In spite of myself, I hopped on her's hand.

Oku-san gladly says.
"You are cute! Pea-chan. This is the first time I have seen such a friendly bird!"
I talk to myself in her hand.
"Pea-chan dayo. Iiko-dayo. Oka-san daisuki." (I am Pea-chan. I am a good boy. I like Oka-san.)
Oku-san: "He says Oka-san!"
Okami-san: "True. He seems to understand human words."

Oku-san hesitantly asks something to the owner lady, looking at me in her hand with her gentle eyes.
"I'd like to have this boy, wouldn't I? We kept a parakeet, but it flew away like Pea-chan."
Okami-san: "You, too? There seem to be the same cases around. I agree with you. He does not know where and how to get back, anyway."

It is true. I am now at a loss. I don't know anything even if I eagerly want to get back to Oka-san.

Okami-san: "Both his feet are like this bad. Therefore it is impossible for him to live alone."
Oku-san, seemingly at ease: "The bird cage at home is empty now. .....My daughter and husband will be glad."
Then, Okami-san claps her hands noticing something.
"Wait a minute. I have just remembered a small cage in the storeroom. I'll bring it here. Hold Pea-chan tight, will you?."
Saying so, Okami-san disappeared in the back.
Oku-san holds me gently with her warm hand.

Okami-san got back with a very small birdcage, brushing the dust out. It is just large enough for me

Oku-san returned home from the store, holding the shopping bag in her right hand and my small birdcage in her left hand carefully.
She whispers quietly to me in the cage, "You are Pea-chan. I know you are a good boy."

Oku-san's house is two-storied, near the store.
She enters a large Western-style room and put my birdcage on the table.
After she disappeared for a while, she brought a new big-size birdcage, into which she softly moved me.
Singing a song in a low voice, she puts water, a strawberry and something like a fava bean into my cage. How kind and efficient she is!

After coming to the end of her first stage, Oku-san opens the door window and goes out to the garden, holding my birdcage carefully.
The garden is full of various flowers! A pond in the center. Beautiful fountain!
She puts my cage on the large stone beside the pond. I have to eat something first.
After a while, Oku-san's tender face comes closer to me and she smiles. Now it's the turn of our conversation.

"This is your house from today, Pea-chan."
"Pea-chan dayo. Oka-san daisuki!" (I am Pea-chan. I like Oka-san!)
"You are so cute. You are all right now."
"Pea-chan dayo. Nnnn, oishii!" (I am Pea-chan. Mm, delicious!)
"What's wrong with your feet? Why and how did they get hurt? They look painful, but you are great. Both Oto-san (husband) and One-san (daughter) will be surprised and be delighted to have you."

Yes, this family is three people, Oku-san, Oto-san and One-san.

Two people came home at night.
Is Oto-san an office worker or a school teacher? He wears a men's two-piece suit neatly and has a mustache. His glasses are round with thick plastic rims.
As soon as he saw me, he tilted his head with his eyes to my feet. But when I said "Oto-san daisuki!" (I like Oto-san!), a smile spread across his face.

One-san may be a college student. She looks like Oku-san, with big round eyes. Beauty!
She praises me right away.
"You are called Pea-chan, aren't you? You look very wise."
She is sitting beside my birdcage forever. She enters her hand and strokes my neck gently. Ticklish!

From the next day two of them might have come home earlier.
"Why is it you come home so early? Anthing happened?"
Oku-san is ironic.
Oto-san and One-san sit on each side of my birdcage and talk to me earnestly.
One-san is eagerly speaking.
"I like One-san!".
I will surprise her sometime.

At night after a couple of days, three of them open some small local paper and talk to each other seriously.
Oku-san: "This is surely Pea-chan. His feet are injured as it mentions. His talk is all the same....."
Oto-san: "No doubt. This article is certain."
Oku-san: "Should we let them know after all?"
One-san: "Pea-chan has become attached to us, hasn't he?"
Oto-san: "Yes, I agree. But Pea-chan's owner must be sad much more."

Someone is talking to Oku-san at the entrance.
Are?! (What?!)
The voice of a guest? Who?! Yes, as I expected!

"Thank you very much. I forgot to shut the window of the cage at the balcony. We have been at a loss until now."
This is Oka-san's voice.
Oku-san replies.
"We noticed the article in Smile (town paper) about Pea-chan. He has injured feet and talks a lot."
Oka-san: "It is very kind of you. Thank you so much."
Oku-san: "I called up the paper company right away. Pea-chan is so cute. ....., You must have been in the depth of grief."
Oka-san, noddinly: "Yes, you are right. Especially Oto-san....."
Oku-san speaks her true feelings.
"I agree. In fact, I truly did not want to let you know."
Oka-san expresses her gratitude.
"I understand you. I don't know how to thank you."

I was sadly weeping at first, too. I was lonely but I also thought Oto-san and Oka-san were much more lonely. Oto-san might have been accusing Oka-san.
I did a bad thing but irrevocable now.

Besides I felt shameful, what a wonderful welcome this family had for me! I was too comfortable! I am lucky. Honestly, I thanked God.
I think it must be selfish, but "before" is before. I have considered that I must end the good old memory.
Therefore, though I am glad that Oka-san takes me back to our home, I feel lonely.

"Pea-chan, you are going home. You are happy, aren't you?"
Oku-san just said so and then no more.
I felt very sad, too.
"Pea-chan dayo. Oku-san daisuki! Oka-san daisuki! Itte kima-su!" (I am Pea-chan. I like Oku-san! I like Oka-san! I will be back!)
I cried fully to Oku-san.

Reading Part 5 (15:43): on
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