He falls to thinking for a while and carries on, “You have the incredible faith in yourself. Such a powerful faith like yours can change the world, I guess. By the way, it’s hard for me to believe that you didn’t give up. Only few people have guts to go through such hellish long abortive periods. I admire your courage to the heavens. You know, I’m an engineer and fifty-seven years old now. I began studying philosophy and psychology three years ago. I’ve been reading Kant, Aristotle, Plato, Nietzsche, Spengler, Schopenhauer, Spinoza, Bergson, Freud, Jung, etc. Why? Because I want to understand human beings and the meaning of life. Besides, I want to improve myself. It’s a good thing to improve oneself, you know. I don’t understand why people stop improving themselves while they have a time to do so. Like you, I’m a dreamer in my heart. I’ve been writing poems for years. My family always encourages me to publish them; nevertheless, Mexico has a few serious readers by comparing to other countries. It’s our culture, I admit. Mexican people prefer to read entertainment books than serious books, such as literature, poetry, philosophy, etc. As a result, it’s difficult for me to find a publisher here. But I’ll try to publish my poems even if nobody reads them. I love depicting human emotions and feelings. I really love writing poems. I’m not writing them for money but for my sheer pleasure!”
“It’s a miracle, you know, because it’s difficult for us to find good friends nowadays. We can’t trust anybody these days, unfortunately. What is wrong with people? Anyway, I’m astonished to know that you have such great friends who are willing to succor you. You’re a fortunate man.”
I am nodding gladly.
“By the way, you’ve told me that you’re writing a book, so have you ever published any books so far?” he queries curiously.
“No, I haven’t published any books yet. This is my first earnest attempt to write a book. And I’m proud to announce that I’ve already completed writing my first book.”
“Wonder to hear that!” he offers me handshakes. “May I ask you how long you’ve been writing?”
“I’ve been writing for good nine years. To tell the truth, I could not write anything over eight years despite of my fervent striving. However, I believed someday I could write in spite of the fact that everybody thought I was incurably lost.”
He looks at me with wondering eyes and remarks, “What a staunch heart you have!” His mustache is vibrating from too much excitement.
At my great amazement, a total stranger is standing right before my eyes as large as life when I come back to the world from the excursion of my childhood. No sooner than he recognizes that I begin noticing his presence, he starts the ball rolling by catechizing, “Excuse me, I hope I’m not disturbing you. Are you Japanese by chance?”
His face is shining benevolence with a traditional Mexican mustache. I am startled by his sudden appearance and helplessly captivated by his honorable mustache. I cannot keep my eyes off his sovereign mustache and response by looking at it dizzyingly, “Yes, as a matter of fact, I am.”
“It’s extremely rare to meet Japanese in Mexico City. May I ask what you’re doing in a strange land?”
“I’m writing a book,” I reply laconically.
He is tickling his mustache and says delightedly, “Hm… it’s very interesting. It’s extremely rare to meet a writer in Mexico City to boot. What a heavenly coincidence! I am, too, a humble servant of God – I am a poet. May I have a seat next to you?”
“Go ahead. Please have a seat,” I say, smiling.
He sits down on the bench, takes his cap off, caresses his hair backwardly, put it back on his head, and inquiries, “Where do you live?”
“I’m living in Condensa with a Mexican friend, who has been offering me to stay at his apartment for a gratis, so that I can focus on writing. Other Mexican friends are helping me as well.”
“You don’t say!” he exclaims, his mustache seems upward.
He was delighted to hear the new name and loved it instantly. He started practicing the opening of his act for ten minutes and finally announced that he was ready for the new prank. We decided to pay a visit to Ryo, who was our ex-classmate. We wanted to see his reaction fist, then we would go to public places to show off his new look. Masa got cold feet and become nervous when he saw Ryo’s house’s door step. I encouraged him as I could and gave him more five minutes to practice his line. He finally gathered enough courage to pull the new prank off. I lifted him on my shoulders and pushed the doorbell expectantly. After we impatiently waited for ten seconds, Ryo opened the door and emerged from the threshold. He gazed at us confoundedly for a while and prattled, giggling, “What’s up? Shogo, why on earth are you carrying Masa on your shoulders?”
“What are you talking about? Who’s Masa? You are misunderstanding me with someone else. By the way, my name is Mr. M & M. Please to meet you, Ryo,” Masa introduced his new name pompously, since he still believed that it would work.
“No, you’re not Mr. M & M; you are Masa. Why are you faking your name? And how do you know my name if you’re not Masa?”
Masa got enraged at his suspicion and blew up, “Damn it! Ryo, you suck! You know, you really suck! You just ruined my new character! Shogo, let’s get the hell out of here!”
We went back to the park and discussed about the matter. He was still exasperated and could not believe that Ryo figured out that Mr. M& M was indeed Masa. We become a low spirit due to our failed prank and said good-bye to each other. A couple of days later, he called me that he would go to Atami, where his family had a villa. The main reason for going there was to hide from everybody, because he could not wipe up the drawings on his face. He washed his face numerous times, but it did not work. Out of humiliation, he vanished to Atami and washed his face for the rest of his summer holidays. Later on he blamed me for painting his face with permanent markers and reproached me that I painted only on his face but not mine. These accusations were too much for me to handle with; I decided to withdraw from being a prankster for good. In the summer holiday of third grade, our brotherhood dissolved until hell freeze over….
When we became third grade, we were not in the same class anymore. Nonetheless, we always created a new prank together. It was a summer holiday. We were inventing a new prank at a park and discussing how to disguise our faces, so that no one could recognize us. I suggested that we should try to paint our faces with permanent markers. He agreed with my suggestion forthwith and asked me to paint his face excitedly. First I attacked his eye brows with a black marker and made them thicker like Eskimos. And then I gave him a mighty mustache, curling both edges upward to give him a little charm. I gave a big star on his forehead with a yellow marker, so that he would be distinguished. I painted red circles on his both cheeks with a red marker, so that he would be radiating like sun. To finish with it, I drew a turd on his chin with a brown marker as a small token. He looked hilarious. I was laughing at the art of my painting, holding my stomach. He checked his new look with a pocket mirror and nodded affirmatively. And he said enthusiastically, “Shogo, you did a helluva good job. I love every bit of your painting very much and always admire your creativeness. Nobody will recognize me as Masa. The time has come for us to think about a new name for me!”
“I totally agree with you, Masa. It’s essential for us to invent a new name for you,” I nodded and went on with tears of laughter in my eyes, “and also I think you have still a bit problem because of your height. You should become taller, so that nobody will recognize you. I should carry you on my shoulders, and you should do the talks.”
“Bravo, Shogo! It’s a wonderful idea!” he barked with too much expectation.