"Gensaku's son has gone to a city."
"His son will take an entrance examination for a public junior high school."
Such a rumor was spreading all over his village.
Gensaku was a poor independent farmer in the village. And he had only paid the tax less than the standard level.
It was natual and normal that sons of the landowners or the soy sauce factory owners would go to universities in Tokyo.
Nobody would gossip about such sons.
But, Gensaku was a small poor farmer. And he was going to send his son to school of a city.
This aroused curiosity for the village people.
Okino was Gensaku's wife.
When she asked the neighbors to let her use their bathroom or when she went to a temple for a prayer, other wives made sarcrastic remarks.
"Your son will go to junior high school, won't he? You have much money! You can send him to school. Tee-hee, tee-hee."
Okino hadn't said anything about the entrance examination for her son.
On the day after her son left, she met some village people on the street.
Everyone already knew that matter.
They said "Oh! You are going to make your son a somebody. So, you are going to send him to school."
At first, she felt proud of her son. Also, she was happy.
"Did you say to others that he had left?" She asked Gensaku at a lunch time.
"No. I have said nothing." He answered unpleasantly.
"So, ... but, everybody already knew."
"Well." He was deep in thought.
When Gensaku was 16 years old, his father died. After that, he stood on his own feet.
He obtained 1 acre of farmland and saved about 20 dollars. Now, he became 50 years old.
When he was young, he intended to save 200 or 300 dollars and he continued working hard with poor meals.
He was able to save 20 dollars with his best effort, but he could not save money anymore.
He went down the slope of his life far away. He felt that he used up his energy and that he could not work hard.
According to his experience from 16 years old, the soy-sauce factory owner and the landowner got much money without hard labor and they led luxurious lives. He was only able to save money for hard labor little by little, though.
The third son of the landowner was as old as he.
The son was a mediocre student. But the son went to advanced school using the power of money.
Now, the son became a priest of Konpira Shrine and he easily cheated people out of their money.
Also, there were some people who were as old as he or who were younger than he.
At school, their grades were pretty worce than his. But they were able to go to advanced school and learned reading and writing.
Now, one became a manager of a soy-sauce factory, another became a chief clerk of a soy-sauce dealer, another became the head of an elementary school.
And they took power in the village. So, he had to bow his head to such persons.
They became members of the village council and dicided the tax rates for each farm family as they pleased.
Now, the peasant farmers were working all year round, but they were nevertheless on very hungry.
The proceeds of their crops were low. But their taxes and their living costs were high. The balances were always in the red.
But, even if such peasant farmers had been employed as laborers of a soy-sauce factory, the labors would have been hard and the wages would have been low.
Anyway, they could not change from peasant farmers to dealers or managers of soy-sauce factories.
But, he could not stand to pull his son into unfavorable place like his place.
He had two children. The older daughter married into a family in a neighboring village the previous
The younger son was remaining in his family.
Fortunately, he had money enough to pay fees of a junior high school.
So, he asked his cousin, who was an umbrella seller in the city, to take care of his son.
He intended to send his son to school economically.
"I hope he will pass the exam," he said putting his rice bowl on the table.
"He is sure to pass it because he has always got the highest grades in his class since he was a first-year student," she said looking at his broad head.
His gray hair grew and was messy because he hadn't had a haircut for the past one month or more.
"Um, there are many good students in the city. Who knows what will happen."
"Every morning, I pray to Kannon God for him. He is sure to pass the exam."
Gensaku didn't answer to that word.
He was dreaming that his son would graduate from the jounior high school and enter a technical high school and graduate from it and join an industrial experimental station as an engineer and earn the salary of 1 dollar 20 cents.
A post card came from his cousin in the city.
It said that his son was very well and lively.
Further it said that there were many applicants to the prefectual junior high school.
It also said:
The students from elementary schools in the city had started the preparation of the entrance exam with their teachers' help six month before;
Additionally, they wouldn't panic in the exam room and would answer the questions calmly to the best of their knowledge;
The students from the rural area would suffer a loss of 20 or 30 percents in this regard;
However, the son would pass the exam because he was an brilliant student.
Gensaku read out the post card to his wife and said, "I want him passing the exam."
"I will pray harder."
If people prayed to a god for something, their dreams would not come true; Gensaku always thought so; but now, he didn't intend to deny her word.
While Gensaku was working in the field, Okino's uncle visited her.
"Even if he stops going to school now and gets a job, his wages will not be high. And, within his life, he also can't get ahead and must live a poor life. Even if we spend pretty money, we only want him to have an education. We don't intend to make him a somebody," Okino said.
"Um, anyway, even if he graduates from junior high school, he will not be able to become a richman."
"My husband intends to send our son to advanced school."
"Um," her uncle sighed tilting his head for a while.
"The village headman hates it when the poor send their children to school of the city. Keep it a secret!", he said in a low tone emphatically.
"When someone asks you, you had better answer he is working in the city as a live-in worker."
"Be carefull about this ... ", her uncle added.
He stood up and went to the pigpen.
"This female is very fat!"
Its parent pigs had been sold about a month before and only a pair of their young had been kept.
Pointing the female mate, her uncle said so.
"Well," said Okino, who also went to the pigpen.
"If you keep ten pigs or so, the sales of them could cover the school fees ... Anyway, it is the practice of this village that the poor do not send their children to advanced school. You had better say to others that he is working," her uncle repeated.
Okino followed her uncle's advice.
When people asked about her son, she said that he was working at an umbrella shop. But, the village people didin't believe what she said.
"No! No! We can't send our son to school in the city. We don't have enough money. We live humbly. He is really working as a live-in worker," she insisted stubbornly.
But the people sarcastically remarked, "You have much this (making the gesture of money with a thumb and an index finger). Why is your only son working as a live-in worker? You send him to school! You are kidding! Your son gets good grades. He will become a richman. Tee-hee ... "
When Okino ran into people, they made sacrastic remarks. That was paintful for her.
So, she said to Gensaku, "I wonder if we should make him give up and make him work as a live-in worker."
"Live-in?", said Gensaku, slightly giving a sneer in gloomy tone; "Our life is almost over. But his life has only just begun. We should give him a good education rather than save a bit of money for him. It will be very helpful to him. I don't care what people are saying! We don't ask the village headman for money. I pay fees and send my son to school. We don't have to worry about what people say."
Her uncle's advice and the village people's sarcastic remark made Okino feel it bad to send her son to school.
But she listened to Gensaku and tought that his opinion was reasonable and quite plain.
She felt the people's remark to be unreasonable.
A Picture Book : "A telegram" vol.1
Translated and illustrated by : Akanemachi Haruhiko
Original author : Kuroshima Denji