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Essay “The Sound of the Heart”

March , 2024

In March, the plum blossoms are in bloom and we eagerly await the cherry blossoms.
When the first wind of spring blows, spring is approaching closer.

When I was a child, the “Hinamatsuri (Festival for girls) on March 3rd was a big event. I enjoyed unwrapping the Hina dolls and the tiny, small utensils one by one, from the carefully wrapped fine tissue papers, and displaying them on the doll’s stand with my mother and grandmother.
When the dolls and decorations were all set up, we would enjoy eating the bara-zushi made by my mother, and talk about the new school year that would start in April.

The following day March 4th was my mother’s birthday. The beginning of March, therefore, was a very exciting time indeed.
After wrapping up the Hina dolls in soft paper again, we put them away in their boxes in the wardrobe and as we did so, my grandmother would always say “See you again next year, Hina-sama! Please look out for the grown-up Mari-chan,” gently caressing the boxes with her hands.

When the cycle of three cold days followed by four warm days finally starts, our shrinking bodies start stretching out and we can walk or jog long distances again.

I enjoyed considering what to get for my mother for her birthday. Sometimes I would discuss it with my brothers, imagining what would make her happy and how she might react. March is a time full of such memories.
I made handwritten paper coupons for massaging or tapping her shoulders, helping her with housework, and stamping her with my feet, etc., hoping that she would be pleased.
Oh, stamping her with my feet, by the way, was a method of giving a massage to my mother. She would lie facing downwards on the sofa, and I would stand on top of her, balancing myself, and use my toes to massage her back, thighs, and other parts of her body. As I was only a little girl, it seemed that I was not strong enough for an effective massage, so my mother suggested, “Mari-chan, how about getting on your feet? “ I had lots of fun, trying to ride on my mother’s back, but of course, as it was not flat, it wasn’t so easy for a small girl and I kept falling to the right and to the left. I also tried standing with my hands on the wall for support and I got better and better at it, after doing more research.

Eventually, my mother started to frequently request “Mari-chan, get on top of me!” and I got better and better at it, and proudly squeaked and squeezed her back with my toes.
My mother was extremely busy at the time, doing housework as well as driving and attending me to my violin lessons. I wonder if I had been any help to relax her exhausted body in any way. But it happens that she really enjoyed using my feet-stamping coupon gifts!

Those memories gradually came to an end as I got older and bigger, as it gave her more pain the comfort.
Such pieces of good memories come back to me in March.
It’s also the time of year when I feel like visiting my mother’s grave with flowers.
If I am too busy in March, I go in early April, around my birthday.

March is the time when I miss my mother.