"The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears. I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection."
When I was six I was frightened of thunderstorms. I used to curl myself in my bed, wrapping my fingers around the edge of my doona as I pulled it tight over me. My mum used to come in and when she'd see me there she'd smile. Not in a condescending way, like most adults look at kids nowadays, but a kind, warm, loving, fatherly way. She'd say to me,
"Takao, the earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal," I don't know why she told me that. We weren't really religious. I wasn't crying out in bitter remorse. I was just a six-year-old who was afraid of thunder.
Now my mother's words ring louder than ever.
Death must come with honour. Death must come with honour. Death must come with honour.
This has been drilled into my head at military training before the war even began. Now I am surrounded by foreigners, the enemy. I grasp the handle of my sword, ready. I hold the blade out, cupped in both my hands and kneel on one knee as if making an offering at the altar. I then rise, twist the sword so the tip of the blade is against my abdomen. Ready. Set. Go. Now!
But I can't. Because just like when I was six, I am scared. Scared to die.
The enemy is closing in, if I don't commit seppuku now, I will be captured. And if I live, and go home, I will be rejected. Prisoners of war don't receive the warmest welcome in Japan because we are taught to die as a samurai, so that we are not captured. Even if I am captured and killed without needing to face the overwhelming sense of rejection, I will not have died with honour. I must do it now. Now!
The sound of gunfire engulfs me...
When I was a child, I was afraid of thunderstorms. Now I am afraid of rejection. But I am also afraid of death. Which do I choose? Do I die with honour, or to live and be rejected by not just my friends and my family, but my country as well? To be a disgrace, an outsider, a discard?
The coarse voices of men, sobered by battle, surround me...
Now. Now! Now!
They will find me soon...
Surrender or die? Rejection or death?
Death must come with honour.
The earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. I am ready now. I am a coward, wounded by the scarring images of life and death, but terrified of rejection. More so than death.
My death has come with honour.