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OE, Kenzaburo

The Silent Cry

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One day soon after, my wife, who was wary of traveling in case it affected the unborn baby, made up her mind to cross the bridge, on which repair work had already started, and leave the hollow. That morning, a man came from the valley to say goodbye to us, bringing with him a newly made wooden mask. It represented a human face like a split pomegranate, and the closed eyes were studded with countless nails. The man was the tatami maker who had once absconded from the valley and had been summoned back from the town to help revive the Nembutsu dance that summer. Now he was working again, making mats for the valley assembly hall, which was due to be restored with funds specially allotted at the time of the merger, and for various other places where jobs had been found for him. And at the same time he was planning different costumes for each of the “spirits” in the dance. We presented him with the jacket and the trousers that Takashi had had on when he came back from America, for use by the performer who wore the mask of Takashi’s “spirit”.

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