Somewhere in Japan

Dispatch № 30: In The Small Chairs

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Across the table from me is a blue plastic chair, 26cm tall at the seat and 49cm at the back. It weighs about 1kg. Weighing in at about 16kg is the small boy sitting in it. Let’s call him Ira.

Ira is exceptionally cheerful. He giggles at just about everything, and is also very kind, always cheering for his classmates (even when he loses the game). He loves playing with everyone.

Unfortunately for him, he’s the only one here today, so it’s just me and little Ira all afternoon, seated at this low table. My chair is just like his, the only difference being that mine is green, which he insisted upon for reasons I cannot grasp.

Ira’s mother is Japanese, and his father is Ghanaian. They speak mostly Japanese at home and send him here to help develop his English. He’s four years old, and only barely that, so baby-speak is still peppered throughout his sentences. He often uses made-up words and pronounces things creatively.

Earlier, when asked when his birthday was, he replied Gozember.

And every time his father comes to pick him up from the school, I cannot help but wonder if he’ll grow to be as tall. Ira’s so little still, it’s hard to imagine him someday towering over others like his father does. But for now, he remains perfectly sized for his tiny chair, and he makes it look just as normal as I make mine look ridiculous.

We are singing along with Raffi songs and coloring together. Today, he is really excited to work on an Ultraman coloring sheet, and as he scribbles indiscriminately over everything with a purple crayon, he asks me periodically to confirm that he is, in fact, doing a good job. I say yes and remember that not too long ago I was still commuting into Tokyo to teach stressed-out office workers. Some of them were perfectly enjoyable people, but I’m still much happier here, now, in these tiny chairs with Ira.

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Picture of David R Munson

David R Munson

Photographer, essayist, wanderer, weirdo. Everything is interesting if you give it an honest chance to be.

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