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When the Rain Signs the End of Everything

October 15, 2014

Rain. I always love rain. Not that I love to soak myself in rain, I love the ambience that it gives. It gives me  a melancholy. I become melancholistic everytime those drops of water fell into the earth, and the earth give its petrichor smells out. Rain is life for many people. In many society, rain is the source of life. It gives the field water that it needs to feed people. We also drink rainwater sometimes. It goes to the center of the earth, stored by the plants, drained, and drank by us. When the clouds gets blackened, the air gets cold. It is one of the best feeling to feel the cold breeze floating near my skin. Rain is my blessing. But it is all before everything happened. It was my blessing now. It was my blessing, until I met the Ame Onna –the rain woman-. My name is Yukiko Kashiwagi, everytime I hear the rain, it signs the end of everything. Of my everything.

This is the third time I visit the Okuyama Pyschological Counseling Clinic. I visited so many different clinic to treat my mental condition. I know that I have a problem with my mind. Especially, after ‘that’ thing happened to my life. I don’t have anyone to talk to. I don’t have any kid, my husband left me for his work abroad, although he always sends me a big part of his big salary, and based on what I see and hear, he is not in any affair with any woman. He just loves his job more than anything. He becomes more obsessed with his job especially after ‘that’ incident. He works in a big car company as a head of manufacturing somewhere in South East Asia. I can’t speak with my neighbors, they seems reluctant to talk to me, also, after ‘that’ incident. All that can I afford is a profesional help. I have visited so many clinics, but everything is pretty much over in my first visit. I don’t know why, but I always feel those psycholog I visit seems to be like only exorting money from me. My husband’s money. They don’t really hear what I’m saying. They only give me sleeping pills so I can sleep at night, and that is not what I need, I need my mental health back. But this one, this is special. I know I can trust them, and I know they can help me.

The Okuyama Psychological Counseling Clinic located in front of a mini market near the park around my neighbor. It is a very small building. It only consist of the receptionist, the therapy room, a small bathroom for visitor, a small room for the employees which only a receptionist and a helper, and a private room for the psychologist. The psychologist’s name is, of course, as the clinic’s name suggest is Okuyama. Okuyama Mizuko. She is a very pleasant lady, she seems to be like 5-7 years older than me, she is around her early 40s. Her hair is long, but she always keep it neat, tying it behind her back as a ponytail. She always wear pretty and luxurious dress, in my first visit, she wears an Yves Saint Lauren dress, while in second visit she wears  a summer dress by Gucci. Always as lovely as ever. She always makes the conversation easy. Like talking to a best friend in the highschool time. I have a highschool best friend once, but it was long in the past. I never met her anymore.

As soon as I arrived in the clinic, the receptionist give me the number, which of course it is number 1 since I make an appointment first before I come here. I really like this psychologist, I feel that I can trust her. She’s different. She has this vibe that surfaced from someone who really care for you.  I really want to meet her. That’s why I make an appointment first, to make sure that I can meet her. I sit in the bench near the receptionist when he called me to come into the therapy room. The receptionist is a youngman in his early 20s. He always been there since my first visit. He wears a white short sleeved shirt without tie. He always have his hair combed nicely, parted at the middle. His face, I can’t really say, but it is that kind of face that you will simply forget after you seen it. Not long after I sit in the bench, the receptionist called my name. “Kashiwagi-san, please come in.” I haste my step into the therapy room, I really can’t wait to see her.

Inside, it smells as nice as usual. A refreshing smells that you get if you visit a prestigious office. Like my husband’s. Inside, there are so many wooden furnitures. The bookshelf, her table, the couch where I sit and lay while she extract some information from me –in a positive way-, the only thing that bugging me is that she have so many fish ornaments in the therapy room. Wooden statue in a form of fish, Catfish I presume ? Crystal statue in a form of fish, it’s a shark definitely, old National Geographic magazines with sea monsters in the cover, which are also fishes. But everything seems to be moot as soon as I talk to her and she talks to me.

Today, she wears a beautiful black armani dress. As usual, she keeps her long hair neat as a ponytail. She smiles as I come in, “good morning Mrs. Kashiwagi, you look better today. Please, take a sit.” I smiled, and sit at the teraphy couch “I have to thank you and your teraphy sensei, I can sleep nicely lately.” “oh, I’m glad to hear that ! it means that our progam is going well” she smiles even bigger. “okay, now let’s start the teraphy again. Please lay down on the couch. This time, I want you to be ready to tell me what haas been bugging you lately, then I can really solve your problem” she said calmly.

I then rest my body onto the comfortable couch. It is so comfortable I can sleep anytime soon. But no, I have to tell her what have been bugging me all this time. In my first two visits, I never reveal my true story on how I lost my son. But this time, I have to. “okay sensei, just promise me you won’t laugh at what I’m going to talk about. It is about how I lost my son. It will sounds insane to normal people, but it really happened.” I’ve been trembling to say that. “of course no, Mrs. Kashiwagi, it is my job to hear you. And how can someone laugh at a story when a lady lost her son ?” she replied with ease. “I’m sorry, but people tend to think that I’m crazy whenever I tell them the story.”

The story on how I lost my son is one of the biggest mystery happened on my life. The first few times I tell everyone the true story, nobody belives that, not even the police. They think I am crazy. So, a story was made up by either the police and my husband that I lost my son to a child kidnapper, and the kidnapper is still on the loose. My husband have to do that because too many absent will leave his position in his office in Jeopardy. He loves his job THAT much. While for the police, the child kidnapper story will sound much better for the media than the real one. It will make their job easier. I lost my kid due to my unawareness on him, but it is not like that. Something took my son. Something took his life. Something that happened in that day. ‘that incident’.

As I try to open my mouth, nothing came out of it. I was too afraid. But then, Okuyama-sensei realized something, and she tried to calm me down. “just calm down Mrs. Kashiwagi, take a deep breath, release it slowly. And tell me your story”. I get calmer as soon as I told her. And I can start to tell the story.

“It was one rainy night at my house. As I told you before, this story might sounds like a nonsense to you.” I reluctantly told her, “no Mrs. Kashiwagi, it’s fine”. “okay, at that night it was like the usual rainy night. I’ve told you that I love rainy night, right ?” she smiles and nods. “It was cold, and calming as usual, I opened the door to my yards. It is so lovely to see those little raindrops making small puddles in my yard. To see how the rain drop in the middle of the puddle, making a beautiful circle around it with some help of the gravity. Nothing seems to be different that night, everything was as perfect as ever until….” I stopped. This is the part where everything goes nonsensical. But I have to finish this. At least for one more time, to Okuyama-sensei. “Mrs. Kashiwagi ? You okay ? Or do you want to take a break first ?” She asked me carefully. “I’m okay, I will continue. It was then I heard footsteps outside my yard. The sound of a walking human on the wet surface after rain. The sound of a foot stepping on a puddle. I thought it was a burglar, but no. No one is there.” I close my eyes, and then trying to take a deep breath. “I was thinking that it was only my imagination, but no, it feels so real, then suddenly, I heard somebody was knocking the door. It was a slow, very slow knock. It was like knock…. knock… knock.. then stop. And another three knocks. Then another. And another. And another. I was taking my time to close the door into the yard first. I’m afraid that it really was a burglar. When I was about to open the door, that somebody is stil knocking the door. When I open it on the second knock. No one is there.”

I paused my story to see how Okuyama-sensei face is. Her face is showing a serious expression, she really listens to my story. I asked her if my story sounds like a nonsense, she said no, and asked me to continue. “then, I come back inside. My son, Takeshi was still sleeping on his bed. He was 4 years old back then. It was our pact that I will get to name our children if it is a boy, and my husband will get to name our children if it is a girl. I named him Takeshi because it sounds though. It was before my husband got sucked into his job. He was caring but…” I have another pause, and this time I realized, that I was talking about my husband. I’ve talked about him in my second visit. I told Okuyama sensei the reason why I don’t want to get a divorce eventhough he seems to love his job more than anything. It is simply I still need money from him. I don’t care about anything anymore. I vowed that I will only get marry once. If I got divorce, then that means I have to get a job. But I can’t, because of my psychological condition. “Sorry, I got carried away. Should I continue my story ?” Okuyama-sensei smiles, and nod “go on Mrs. Kashiwagi, that’s okay. It is okay if you want to tell me the story about your husband.” “no, I’m going to stick with this story. “after checking on Takeshi, I went back to my room. Then I started to get sleepy. So I turn off the light and try to close my eyes. And then,I hear another knock. It was the same knock as before. I was about to call the police, but no, it might only be my imagination. I let the knock goes, but it never stop. I’m afraid that it will disturb the neighbor, so I brace myself to go to the door and open it. It was the same thing. No one is there. I close the door, locked it, and walk back to my room. It was then I feel something has gone wrong. My feet step on slippery floor. It was all wet. At first, I’m afraid that someone might have break into my house, but no, there aren’t any mud stain or something in it, it is just wet, like, someone soaked up in water walk inside my house. When I look up, there are no water falling from the ceiling, so it is definitely not a leak. I realized that the water has somewhat made some kind of a trace. The trace of the water leads me to the door that leads to the yard. I checked on the door, it was locked, no sign that someone have opened it. Then, I realized that the trace was somehow branched in the living room. So, I follow the other one. It leads into Takeshi’s room. And it was.. it was… there..” I gasped. I’m choked. This one is the hardest part to tell. I’ve told this story hundred times before. But then I stop talking about it because no one’s believe it. I never think that retelling this story would hurt this much. I lost my son that night. Takeshi was not in his room that night. His bed was all wet.  He’s gone.

Then I told Okuyama-sensei on how there is no sign that somebody has break into my house, and crossed out any possibilities that it was a crime. That night, my son, my only son, my everything has gone into the rain. The rain signed the end of everything. My everything. I cried a lot in the theraphy room. I don’t think about anything anymore. I just cry, and cry, and cry. It was then Okuyama-sensei talked to me. “Mrs. Kashiwagi, that was very brave of you telling me on how you lost Takeshi.” I try to stop crying, and then Okuyama-sensei told me so many things that makes me calm down. Mostly is about Zen Buddhism, on how emptiness can fill one’s mind. I have to admit that it calmed me down. A lot. It is a great relieve to me that someone finally  belive in my story. Then, Okuyama-sensei told me to go home, and get some rest. As she feels that today was too much for me. She then asked if Miyazaki –the receptionist- should take me home. I refused, since I feel like I can go home by myself. Then, we made an appointment, that we will meet again in the next 3 days.

I spent the next two days full of smile. It feels like something have lifted up out of my body. The chains that has been binding me has finally been broken. Although sometimes I still cry whenever I remember Takeshi, but I know that those are the reminiscent of him. I know I can move on from this, I can be healed, my mental state will be back to normal. I will become the good old Yukiko. The one who always smile, and cheerful. I will be back to my normal self.

Then, comes the day that I’ve been waiting for. I come to the Okuyama clinic at around 10 am. I’ve made an appointment just like before, so I’m getting number one again. I never see another patient here though, so I asked the receptionist. And he said that the other patients usually comes afterwork. I’m the only that come in the morning. Well, maybe the next time I visit, I don’t need to make an appointment first. It is really close to my house, I should just come and go on with the treatment. I sit on the waiting bench when Okuyama-sensei signaled her receptionist to call me. I come into her room. And she is as magnificant as ever. She invited me to sit in the therapy coach, this is my 4th time, and I’m getting used to it. She then asked me to tell her how do I feel about losing Takeshi. I told her in a simple and uncomplicated way. I don’t know why, but I feel that after the last session, the burden have been somewhat lifted. I can tell her that I really-really lost Takeshi, but the most burden lies beneath me is that my guilty feeling of not keeping Takeshi the best I can. She nods, and then she started to take a deep breath. “I understand your feeling Mrs. Kashiwagi, as a your psychotherapist, I know that I should never discuss something like this with my patient, but your case is very-very special. May I be open to you too ?” At first I was confused. Is this a way a psychoteraphy comfort their patient ? By opening herself ? I don’t think so, but I always think this Okuyama-sensei is special. I don’t mind befriending her outside the clinic. So I agreed to listen to her story.

“10 years ago, I, too lost my 4 years old son. His name was Souji.” I lost at word, so I just look at her eyes. “When you told me that you lost Takeshi in such a bizzare incident, I believe it. I really believe it. Because what happened with Souji, is exactly the same with what happened to Takeshi. I lost him in the middle of the rainy day. I already have lost my husband at that time, he left 2 years earlier in a car accident. It was all the same, with the wet traces around the house, the slow creepy knocking on the door, the footstep on the puddle. So, I have no reason not to believe your story.” She said it with a frown. I don’t know how to respon. I opened my mouth, but words seems to be reluctant to come out. I was surprised. But then Okuyama-sensei continues her story. “My neighbor think that I might have murdered Souji, so that I don’t have to raise him alone, but no, I would never do that. I love him. He is a replacement for my husband. That night too, Mrs. Kashiwagi, I lost my everything. But in the end, I can finally stand up. Although sometimes, I always wonder how would Souji looks like in his twenties ? He must be as handsome as his father was. But no, that kind of thinking will just weaken my resolution. I decided that I have to move on and go on with my life. I’m sorry Mrs. Kashiwagi, was that too long ?”. I’m still freezing, but then I shake my head like a dog who shake their body to keep water off their body. “I’m surprised to hear that. I never think that it would happen to anyone. You are definitely stronger that I am, Okuyama-sensei”. “No I am not, it is just happened to me way before it happened to you. I have more time to recover. Here I am. Almost fully recover, finished my Psychological studies, and getting my own practicing licence” She said while pointing the licence hanging on the wall. Then she told me the story on how her friends are helping her standing on her feet after she lost Souji, how she gets on with her life later on, but there is one question remains: who took Souji from her and Takeshi from me ? Turned out, Okuyama-sensei have an answer to that.

After losing Souji, she seek a peace of mind to a Shinto shrine in Kyoto. Turned out, the Kannushi or the Shinto priest told her a story about an old legend called the Ame-onna or the rain woman. It is a story about a mother who lost their children and become an Ame-onna who roamed in the middle of a rainy night, to snatch babies around. She will then eat them. The desperate woman who lost their children will then turn into another Ame-onna and will devour another children. The Shinto priest  told Okuyama-sensei that she should perform a cleansing ritual which she did, and she felt better after that. After telling the story about the Ame-onna, it was already 11.25 am. The therapy session is over, and she sent me home. She then ask me to come for one more time, and she promised to take me to the Shinto shrine later on when she’s not busy, to get me cleansed too. I don’t really believe in such story, but it might give me a peace of mind I need to move on with my life.

The therapy sessions with Okuyama-sensei really changed me. I am know more sociable, I can talk with the neighbor, they seem to be able to re-accept me, since they said “your face is now as bright as the sun !” I even called my husband a few times, he doesn’t seem happy, but he did told me that it is good to hear my old voice back. It is just about time for me to be able to love the sounds of the rain again.

The day to visit Okuyama clinic for the fifth time has finally arrived. I’m happy to meet her again. This time, I go without an appointment. As usual, I come to the clinic at 10 am, the still same receptionist is still there, and he gives me another number one card, Okuyama-sensei called me into her clinic, and I come in. As same as usual. The only thing that different is, Okuyama-sensei is now wearing a kimono, and let her hair loose. No ponytail. I think that it is a little bit weird, I wanted to asked, but maybe she’s just in the mood to do so.

“okay Mrs. Kashiwagi, how are you ? I bet you must be very fine. Your smile is better than ever.” She said while smiling nicely. With her hair unkept, and that kimono, she is performing a true Japanese beauty. I’d date her if I am a healthy 30 years old male. 10 years different doesn’t reflected in her face. She asked me to lay on the therapy couch as usual. This time, she asked me to close my eyes. Maybe she want to do some hypnotherapy or so. All of the sudden, she speaks very calmly, her sounds turned into something a little bit different. It was somewhat crooked. Somewhat like someone who have so many phlegms in her throat. “Kashiwagi, you are now as bright as the sun. The rain hates the sun. It ceased their existance.” I don’t understand what she said “what do you mean Mrs. Okuyama ?”. “SILENCE !” And then suddenly it is raining heavily outside, I opened my eyes to see something so twisted. I never see something like this in my eyes. Not even in a horror movie. I was laying in an old wooden plank. The room is not the luxurious room full of fish  ornaments that used to be Okuyama clinic. It is wet, shabby building with rains all over leaked roof. And what I see in front of me is Okuyama-sensei, she is pale, her hair is messy, and she is all wet. All wet ? Why ? “WHO ARE YOU ?” I screamed at her, but I can’t move. I can’t simply move, something unseen is holding me. “Heeheeeheee you want to know who I am ?” then she knock her thin finger into the wooden plank. Very slow three knocks. The EXACT knocks on the door the day Takeshi was disappeared. “Takeshi was such a delicious boy” she said while smiling, licking her lips soaked with the rain water from the leakage. “He was well bred, well fed, such a wonderful young boy. His bone, I finished his bone the last. It was the best. Crunchy, savory, nothing ever outbest them.” I can only stare at her, hoping that it would be a dream. A nightmare. If it is a nightmare, fine, let it be. But it is not. It is real. I can feel the cold rain drops on my body. She come closer. “STOP, STOP !!!” I said. But she didn’t stop. She asked me “do you know who I am ?”. “OKUYAMA YOU FRAUD !” I screamed at her while trying to move my body. Nothing works. “I am Ame-onna. The one that feed on your children. I pity you Kashiwagi. With some make-believe stories I made, you believe me and it makes you better. You just a selfless bitch who needs someone to talk to. HEEE HEEE HEEE HEEE” she laughed maniacally. I don’t what to do. My vocal chord is not in my control anymore. She gets closer, and closer. I close my eyes, hoping that when I open it, it will be in my room, hoping that I will see the lamps hanging in the ceiling. Hoping, that maybe, my husband and Takeshi in front of me. Hoping that this is all a dream.

But then, when I opened my eyes, the deranged face of the Ame-onna is the only thing I see. Then, she screamed loudly “YOU SHALL BE ONE OF US” while soaking my face with her wet kimono. It gets dark. And silent. It’s over.

On the next day, there were never an The Okuyama Psychological Counseling Clinic in front of the mini market. The only one existed there is an old building soaked by the rain, ready to get torn down. Somewhere, in another city in Japan, a new Psychological Counseling Clinic is now open. The board in front of it said: “KASHIWAGI PSYCHOLOGICAL COUNSELING CLINIC”. It is all nice and newly furnished.

Ame-onna

Illustration of Ame-onna by Matthew Mayer

The original file can be found here

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