The old man next to me was friendly and kind.

He always got drunk and his face was reddening. Whenever he sobered up, he said "Hey, miss! Excuse me, would you watch my stall?" And he left it to me and disappeared somewhere. Then, the old man went to a nearby liquor store and he drank a glass of alcohol. And he came back.




A night got late. It was about time that the number of shoppers decreased.

Blinking with his wrinkled eyelids under glasses, the old man picked up a ballad book or something which was for sale. And he narrated it in a small voice with a strange intonation. This was his habit.






But, when he was bored with it, he said "Miss! Your stall has a dark and depressing atomosphere. It looks like a haunted house ...."

Showing a smile with his good personality, he said "Try dusting with this!" And he threw his duster toward me. Using it ,he always dusted the used books.

I had no sale and I was always bored. It was natural that I chatted to the old man.












I said to him, "Mister! It is meaningless to dust because I have no stand. Passers-by raise the dust. My goods are being exposed to dust directly. And today's situation is worse. When I came here, the ground was completely wet. Someone watered the road. I just had to wait for a while until the road dries. Look, these soap powder bags and newspapers are wet ...."

"Huh? I see. They are wet. Are you OK with that?"

"That's bad, mister. I must keep it dry! The back of bag has mentioned so."

"Well, you should get a stand."

"I know. I don't need you to tell me that. But I have no money. Hey, mister! Putting that a side," I said and threw a glance at the empty box of used books on which he was sitting, "Would you please lend me the box that you are sitting on. It is the right size for the stand."

Then, his eyes were wide open surprisedly.

"Oh, this box! I'll be in trouble. If you use this box, it will be convenient for you. But I'll be in trouble. Whew, that is ....", the old man said laughingly.

Like this, we became good friends and good neighbors. But, on the contrary, that made me lonesome. I wished such an old man had been my father or grandfather.



店の様子が陰気なので大抵の人は気がつかずに行きすぎたり、気がついてもチラと一瞥を投げるだけで通り越してしまうが、たまには若い男が、何にするのか ――― 多分私をからかうつもりであろう、物好きにヒトツふたつ買って行くことがあった.が、そんな時にも10銭の買い物に50銭や1円の紙幣を出されて困ることが多かった.


My stall had a gloomy atmoshere. So, most people didn't notice the stall and passed by it. Even if a person noticed it, he went by it throwing a glance.

Once in a while, a young man strangely bought one or two. What was his purpose? Maybe, he intended to tease me.

But, at such time, they mostly gave me 50-cent coin or 1-dollar bill for the goods of 10 cents. So, I was in trouble.

Even so, I was saved by my friendship with the old man next to me.






"Please wait a moment!" I said to my shopper and handed the money given by the shopper to the old man. The old man changed the money for me. I left 10 cents in my hand and I gave all of the rest back to the shopper.

Because my business style was like that, the sales at a night was 50 cents or 70 cents, not more than about 1 dollar.

In addition, I was charged a 30-percent commission. There was no reason to make a living. Once in a while, all of the sales didn't cover the money for food of a day. With this and that, it was natural that the purchase of goods decreased. And my lonesome stall became more lonesome every night.





The old man next to me noticed it.

And he finally said "Miss, that's bad! People are strange. Flankly speaking, even if they buy a single sheet of paper, they will want to buy it at a big and fine stall, if possible. No wonder, poor stalls become poorer and poorer. And good stalls become better and better. If you want to sell your goods, you should keep your stall fine."






His advice was right.

Some days passed. My sales gradually went down as the number of the goods decreased. And my finances also became worse gradually.

I always thought "Ah, I want 20 dallars! If I have 20 dallars, I can go to school working at this night stall.

But this work was much easier than evening newspaper selling. I must have been standing for selling paper.

I was sitting on the ground of the roadside whether my goods sold or not until all vendors went back home. I was being covered with night dews.


―― 奥付 ――

Title: A Street Vendor (Kaneko Fumiko) volume 5
Illustrated and translated by: Akanemachi Haruhiko
Original author: Kaneko Fumiko

何が私をこうさせたか-獄中手記(金子文子著 岩波文庫 2017年12月15日第1刷発行)