Fusion’s excesses give way to a new age. Instruments dance a ballet. In my head. A second-hand ticking. Time hurries by. A shakuhachi mourns its passing. Pleading. Calling it back. As if it were trying to prevent a lover from leaving. A koto marks the attempts at persuasion and the inevitable. A lyricon. The struggle.
The struggle with time.
There’s a photograph of my Nan attached to my Tokyo fridge door. It greets me every morning when I go to make the children breakfast. She’s all dressed up with somewhere to go. Black jacket, blue skirt, white thinning hair. She’s holding on to the handrail of the steps to her garden in Croydon for all she’s worth. When I look at this photograph I think of the eighteen years I spent living next door. I remember toy soldiers scaling the mountains of her stairs. Action man’s journey’s to the centre of the coal bunker. And a gold carriage clock high on the mantelpiece with a delicate mechanism too fascinating not to touch. I hear the constant banging of the gate between our house and Nan’s. At night, the wind conjuring up robbers and ghosts when I’d forget to lock it. I smell the roses in her garden and touch the rubber flowers on her rubber swimming hat. I share evenings baby-sat between Nan’s legs. Fan heater warming us. Stealing sips of Babycham and watching TV in the dark. Nan singing in Welsh and snoring through the opera on BBC2. There are no memories of scoldings. Only love and pride. I see another photograph of Nan. She has black hair and she’s holding me in her arms.
When Nan died, my childhood finally ended.
The shakuhachi defiant now. The figure more elaborate. Each dancer moving to a separate song.