A student of mine came to visit me
and we got into a lively conversation.
Knowing my age, he asks me something
interesting: “Your life just after
the Second World War must have been hard ?”
Compared to lifestyle now,
I should probably answer, “It was hard,”
but since I never thought it was hard,
I replied, “No, it wasn’t.”
Indeed, before I started school,
my parents didn’t buy me underwear, and
I never remember eating lunch. There was
no bathroom in the house where we lived,
and seven of us slept in a six-tatami room.
When I was hungry, I sometimes ate even sand.
But I never felt that it was painful.
Perhaps it was because other people
seemed to be living similarly.
My grandfather lived a 10-minute walk away.
There were three-tatami room, four-and-a-half-tatami room,
and six-tatami room, in his house.
I slept in the three-tatami room and my grandfather in the six-tatami room.
My grandfather’s life seemed rich like a dream,
even though it was a really simple life now.
My father died when I was two years old
and my mother raised five children.
But I didn’t know what that meant.
So I never felt unhappy.
I think all children are like that.
Rather, I think it was the poverty of
my childhood that allowed me to feel
tremendous happiness. In that sense,
I suppose I am happier today because of
the poverty I experienced then.
Television often broadcasts pitiful scenes from poor African countries.
And the voiceover says how pitiful it is.
However, I have a feeling that the children shown on the TV
don’t seem to think they are unhappy.
Just as I, who was malnourished and sick
when I was a child, did not think I was unhappy.
In that sense, the mass media is also a misery-making machine