★to regret to beg ― Sayaka gets scared at a strange love letter★
Jaugo: Welcome again to the reverse side of love, Sayaka-san. This poem was sent from a man to his past sweetheart whom he happened to meet the other day. I’m very curious what you would say to this TANKA.
Sayaka: I feel as though we were talking about the same subject that we talked over in our last poem.
Jaugo: I thought you would say that. Now, tell me, Sayaka-san, how would you feel if you received this TANKA from the man you once fell in love but now out of love with?
Sayaka: I would feel rather sad.
Jaugo: What seems to make you sad?
Sayaka: This man seems to be saying “I shouldn’t have met you”… not only that he shouldn’t have met me again the other day, after he fell out of love with me, but also that he shouldn’t have met me at all, he shouldn’t have fallen in love with me, that he would like to erase the memory of our love for ever… like you said last time.
Jaugo: And you would hate that?
Sayaka: Not that I hate him, I would hate to hate a man that I loved so much as to fall in love with each other… but I do hate him saying and thinking like that. It feels as if he was trying to kill me in his memories. I would rather that he, and all those I once loved in my life, would live for ever in my memory along with me. My meeting with them, even parting with them, would never be the cause of grief for me like he says it was. I can’t stay with every one of them for ever in real life, I know, but for all that, or BECAUSE OF that, I’d like to cherish every moment I spend with them for the rest of my life, even when they are not with me any more… Will you forget about me after I’m gone from your life? Do you want to erase my existence from your memories, Jaugo-san?
Jaugo: Of course not.
Sayaka: Because this is not a love affair, but just an intellectual conversation?
Jaugo: No matter what, love affair or otherwise, I’d never forget about you.
Sayaka: But you said last time that you’d like to forget about your past love.
Jaugo: I said I wish I could, knowing I never could. Because I know I could never erase her from my memories, I could flirt with the idea of never having met her. And every time I fancy myself not having met her and fallen in love with her, I realize how much she meant to me, how precious was our shared experience. In other words, I try to forget about her BECAUSE I’d love to love her all the more in my sad memories… maybe much more than you miss me in your fond memories… Oh no, I’m losing you again perhaps; just forget it ― you’ll never know until you are lost in love… only time will tell, my telling you right now doesn’t make much sense to you.
Sayaka: If you say so… still, I think it is too much of this poet to tell her in TANKA his meeting her was the cause of future grief for him ― I think she is deeply hurt by his words.
Jaugo: Would you feel hurt and think the worse of him for saying that?
Sayaka: I think I would. I wouldn’t try to erase him from my memories, though.
Jaugo: But he is trying to erase you from his memories, do you think?
Sayaka: I do. Or are you saying he is just flirting with the notion of never having met me just in order to love me all the more in his sad memories?
Jaugo: No. He could flirt with such notions in his head, or even in TANKA he rhymes out to himself, but never should he do that in a letter sent to her. He could toy with you in his fancy, not in the flesh.
Sayaka: I also think so.
Jaugo: Do you think it nasty of him to flirt with the notion of never having met you ― in a letter sent to you, Sayaka-san?
Sayaka: Of course, I do… you do too, Jaugo-san, don’t you?
Jaugo: Mm… it’s a very delicate question to answer.
Sayaka: What’s so delicate about it? To such an indelicate letter!
Jaugo: Indelicate it seems to you, and to most people, I’m sure… but, what if he was not just flirting with the notion of never having met you? He might instead be flirting with the notion of meeting you again “on the reverse side of love”.
Sayaka: On the reverse side of love?
Jaugo: Or should I say, the “rebirth” of love?
Sayaka: Rebirth? You mean, he wants to rekindle the torch of love once again with me?
Jaugo: Which do you mean, it’s impossible for you to fall in love with him again, or it’s impossible of him to beg you to love him again in such an intangible way?
Sayaka: I don’t know. I have no notion what he is actually trying to say… or do.
Jaugo: I know how you feel. Nothing is more creepy than a man who falls in love with you far more quicker and deeper than you do, for the first time or second time. This letter, if it was begging you to love him again, would feel rather creepy to you, Sayaka-san?
Sayaka: I think so. Although I don’t know my actual feeling until I’m in such a situation… I’d rather not be in such a complicated situation.
Jaugo: Complicated, yeah, it sure is… love is inexplicably complicated, more often than not.
Sayaka: Tell me, Jaugo-san, is this TANKA really saying that the poet wants the rebirth of love? Does he actually begging her to rekindle the torch of love that went out long time ago?
Jaugo: If you feel that way, it does; otherwise, it doesn’t. It’s all up to you, Sayaka-san.
Sayaka: But he is actually saying that HE wants to meet her “on the reverse side of love”?
Jaugo: He does… although very few people will realize he does… He doesn’t care ― so long as you, Sayaka-san, would only realize and respond fondly to his pleas… it’s all up to you, and up to you alone. If this letter re-ignites the affection in you, he will be glad; if it makes you just sad, he will feel sad along with you, only in a somewhat different way… and that difference, the disparity in emotional temperature between you and him, will wake him up to a new reality that he has to live without you. Whichever it turns out to be, it’s good for him, if not for you. This is such a poem.
Sayaka: (…) I didn’t know how deep it could be.
Jaugo: And how deep “love” could be?
Sayaka: Yes… I’m getting rather scared.
Jaugo: A love letter would be a failure if it ended up scaring you away. The message of this TANKA ― let’s meet once again on the reverse side of love ― seems to have been simply lost on you, Sayaka-san… no wonder: you’ve never lost in love, it’s impossible for you to fall in love again… Well, I hope you enjoyed it anyway.
Sayaka: “Enjoy” is the last word I would use for my sentiment right now… I’m taken aghast.
Jaugo: Love made up of easy straight paths alone would be a bore; a labyrinth here and there would not be such a bad idea… that’s how I feel, although you could feel otherwise. Lovers don’t have to feel the same way in everything they do, except at the moment of beginning, end, and possibly, rebirth. …oh-oh, I almost forgot: you and I are no lovers, just partners of a delightful, sometimes scary, poetic adventure centering around “love”. I hope you enjoy it ― there’ll be more to come.
Sayaka: I’m curious how the woman responded to him ― did they actually meet on the reverse side of love?
Jaugo: I don’t know, but I do know that’s none of our business ― love is nobody else’s business than the lovers themselves. Let us just hope that he and she lived happily ever after… whether in love reborn, or in their respective memories of the love that’s gone. Agreed?
Jaugo: Good. So, it was nice seeing you so charmingly bewildered. There will be coming up a couple more of “love” songs, so… let’s keep hoping how charming those episodes will turn out to be. Can I count on you, Sayaka-san?
Sayaka: Easy on me, please, Jaugo-san.
Jaugo: Don’t worry, it’s only “love” written on paper, not in the flesh; even if you get lost, it’s nothing to a lost love, which would be in store for you someday in not so distant future…
Sayaka: Don’t scare me, Jaugo-san.
Jaugo: I will only scare you in fancy, in a series of delightful adventure in words. Enjoy the rest of our ride. See you again soon.
Sayaka: Thank you. See you.
(a message to an old sweetheart whom the author met for the first time after several years of separation)
The days I began to spend with you brought me up to the top of the world
Drag me down to the depth of sorrow all the more deadly for the sorely missed joy.
(A)あひみる【逢ひ見る】〔他マ上一〕（あひみ＝連用形）＜VERB:encounter, happen to see each other＞
(B)あひみる【逢ひ見る】〔他マ上一〕（あひみ＝連用形）＜VERB:be mutually in love with you, have affairs with you＞
おもふ【思ふ】〔他ハ四〕（おもひ＝連用形）＜VERB:regard, consider, feel＞
…I felt glad when I had an opportunity to see you [and have carnal knowledge of you]
かへりて【却りて】〔副〕＜ADVERB:on the contrary＞
の【の】〔格助〕＜POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(POSSESSIVE):’s, of, belonging to＞
なげき【嘆き】〔名〕＜NOUN:lament, moan, sorrow＞
けり【けり】〔助動ラ変型〕過去（けり＝終止形）＜AUXILIARY VERB(DISCOVERY):I found out＞
…but it turned out to have been not so much a bliss as a source of future grief [for the days I’d have to spend without you]
《aimishi wo uresiki koto to omoishi wa kaerite nochi no nageki nari keri》
■deep verse, shallow prose■
The author of this TANKA, 道命法師（Doumyou-houshi） was one of the sons of 藤原道綱（Fujiwara-no-Michitsuna）, who was famous for being the son of that very famous “道綱母（Michitsuna-no-Haha = the mother of Michitsuna：??-995）” who wrote that veeeeery famous (or infamous?) 『蜻蛉日記（Kagerou-nikki）』 in which she lamented over her less-than-satisfying married life with her FAITHLESS and SHAMELESS husband 藤原兼家（Fujiwara-no-Kaneie：929-990）. 道命（Doumyou） deserted his secularity early in life to be a Buddhist priest but not quite gave up his worldly pleasure, as was the custom with the so-called “歌僧（ka-sou = minstrel monks）”. Starting from 『後拾遺集（Go-Shuui-shuu）』 to 『新古今集（Shin-Kokin-shuu）』, as many as 38 TANKA are seen with his name, suggesting how celebrated he was in those days.
道命（Doumyou）’s celebrity as a singing priest, somewhat deviated from the “true path” of Buddhist teachings, also gave birth to a scandalous story at the hands of some Buddhist monk in later years, who neither had any creative imagination nor any allegiance to literary authenticity, let alone personal respect for the celebrities they knew nothing about except in the form of totally groundless and frivolous hearsay.
Let this be a sermon, Japanese folks ― Put absolutely no trust in what your ancestors said citing the names of some famous people!… Here goes the story, featuring 道命（Doumyou） along with the legendary love-poet 和泉式部（Izumi-shikibu） ― listen with a grain of (or TONS of) salt:
『道命阿闍梨（Doumyou-AJARI）和泉式部の許に於いて読経し（chanted the sutra in the room of Izumi-shikibu）五条の道祖神聴聞の事（which a Douso-jin of Gojou overheard）』from『宇治拾遺物語（Uji-Shuui-monogatari）』Vol.1 Episode-1
Once upon a time, there was a Buddhist monk called 道命阿闍梨（Doumyou-AJARI）, a son of 傅殿（Fuden = 藤原道綱：Fujiwara-no-Michitsuna）, who had the bad habit of indulging himself in amorous affairs. He was having affairs with the famous 和泉式部（Izumi-shikibu）. He was very good at chanting the sutra. One night, he woke up from a sleep after he made love with 和泉（Izumi） in her room, thereupon he calmed down his heart and started chanting the sutra. He finished reading eight whole volumes of sutra and was about to fall asleep again at dawn, when he felt someone sitting near him in the room. “Who’s there?” he asked, to which a voice answered: “I am an old one living near 五条西洞院（Gojou-Nishi-no-tou-in）”. “What’s this all about?” 道命（Doumyou） asked, to which the voice replied: “Never would I forget hearing you chant the sutra on this particular evening”. 道命（Doumyou） said, “Chanting 法華経（Hokke-kyou） is a daily routine for me. What’s so special for you on this particular evening?” The old one at 五条（Gojou） said, “When you chant the sutra after you suitably purify yourself, your voice invites 梵天（Bon-ten）, 帝釈（Taishaku） and all such glorious ones in Heaven to listen to your voice, so a humble one like me would never venture to come near you. But tonight, you didn’t purify yourself after you indulged in carnal pleasure with that woman. You went into the pure world of Buddha straight from the impure world of sex, so, 梵天（Bon-ten） or 帝釈（Taishaku） hated to hear you chant the sutra, giving me a chance to come near you and hear it tonight ― an unforgettable experience for me”. This story goes to show that chanting the sutra, however casually, should be done with pure mind and body. “When you contemplate the way of Buddha or chant the sutra, do so without breaking the basic rules of a Buddhist monk” so admonished 恵心（Eshin aka. 源信：Genshin：942-1017）.
・・・This easy fabrication (typical of Japanese religious folklore) goes to show the traditional Japanese attitude toward “famous names” ― the celebrities are there to be cited and give plausibility to your story… but you will be fooling yourself if you kid yourself into believing that other people will take your word for it ― anyone adequately literate and cultured enough to know the far more rigid allegiance to authenticity in the writings of Western civilization will scorn you to death, if not to your face, surely in their heart.
To those who threaten me by saying “Aren’t you afraid of Heavenly curse, committing such profanity against the way of Buddha?”, I will simply say, “Those who cite the names of celebrities without paying due respect to their personalities will also certainly cite the names of Buddha, God, Japan, our nation, our common good, mankind, justice, history, whatever, just to justify themselves without any right, with no thought for the consequence of their irresponsible self-centeredness ― which is more suitable for such name-dropping creatures, Heavenly blessings, or divine punishments?”
Moralists in Japan (ancient and modern) are often committing suicide by sacrificing personal dignity in the name of something beyond ― beyond any objective criticism, beyond personal protest from those taken unfair advantage of, beyond the reach of any ordinary human being ― thereby scaring away all the potential listeners… foolish acts of suicide committed only by foolish brains.
To such foolish talks, you should only turn deaf ears… don’t worry, the world is full of much more interesting and honorable stories, moral or otherwise, even if you shut your eyes to all those shitty writings scattered here and there in Japan.
We provide you not with actual conversation partners, but we enable you to engage in intellectually enticing conversation with Sayaka-san/Jaugo-san(…no mean feat, isn’t it?)
WEB lessons by ZUBARAIE LLC. are currently for JAPANESE students only, conducted in Japanese language (…sorry for English speakers)