Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.499

on December 21, 2013
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The living room in my grandparents’ home was used for a card game when the house turned into a family casino during New Year’s. The game was a blackjack-like one called ‘kabu’ and organized by my uncle. It used to be the best treat of New Year’s for me in my childhood and early in my teens. Unlike ‘mortar roller’ I had introduced before, this game was played seriously and intensely because it was for high stakes. The players usually bet a dollar or more, sometimes as high as a hundred dollars. The farther into the night it got, the higher the bet went. The family members would leave the table one by one, as the higher bet would make them tense and deprive them of pleasure. As for me, I liked to see the game get heated so much and would play throughout the night until the game came to an end in the next morning. The usual players who stayed at the table near dawn would be my uncle who was a dealer, my eldest cousin, my mother and I. My uncle was a successor of the family by marriage and so my grandparents were his in-laws. He was on terrible terms with my grandmother who raised my eldest cousin in place of him and his wife because they were too busy working at the family farm. Consequently, he didn’t get along well with his own son either. New Year’s ‘kabu’ would become an intense battle between my uncle and my cousin by dawn. My uncle couldn’t lose especially to his son and that made the game extraordinarily thrilling. My cousin would bet more than $10 on each deal and my heart would be pounding by seeing bills on the table. My uncle would concentrate on the cards dealt to him and his son too deeply to care about my small bets. Because he would forget to count me in and settle my deal thoughtlessly each time, I would end up winning quite a big amount of money in total every year. He would summon all his strength when he saw the last card dealt to him. In spite of his prayer-like chants “Come on! Come on!”, most of the time the card would be the least one he had wanted. Hand after hand, he drew the worst card possible while my cousin was rolling on the tatami floor to stifle his giggling. As far as I remember, he had never won against my cousin. He was manly and frank, but I can still picture him going back to his room after the game in the morning light with unsteady steps, worn out, drooping, and on the verge of tears. Three months after the house was burned down, he died of cancer without becoming the head of the family…

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***** 88th Planet Project *****

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