Adult Group Excellent Work (Japan)
Masae Kubota, Kagoshima (65, housewife, female)
This morning I also stood in front of the gas oven with an exciting feeling. The fingertips of my left hand, cooled down with ice water, are making a thick roll of eggs working together with the chopsticks handled by my right hand. This rolled egg I’ve just completed by repeating this operation was the best I ever made. "You've done a good job," was the praise I heard from beyond the table. I received a bouquet, in my mind, and that was a bouquet of the flower I like best, white marguerites.
It's just a rolled egg, but I've had a lot of trial and error until I got here. At first I thought it would be easier to roll eggs on a wide area, so I rolled them on the frying pan. But I never got around to it. Then, I came up with this procedure: I scramble eggs to make it half boiled, move it to one side in the pan with a bamboo spatula, turn it over and grill the other side. But I made no beautifully shaped roll eggs with this procedure.
I finally met a turner sized just to fit the width of the rolled egg-making pan, but the joy was ephemeral. I couldn't feel with my fingers what the end of the turner touches, so I gave up on it.
Now I finally realized that tools that aren't alive won't give me the kind of information I want. If so, why not use my own live fingertips. Then, the procedure was established that when it's hot, it should be cooled down. Since then, making rolled eggs has become one of the things that pleasantly excite me very much.
While I was enjoying the scent of slightly bluish flowers of white marguerites that are whitishly swinging in my mind, I remembered having received a flower bouquet larger than this.
I was told the cloth was glossy and has a very beautiful color, and I soon started making a one-piece dress. But the cloth was more stretchy, heavier and harder to handle that I expected.
I managed to run up the dress and put my arm through it in a joyful excitement. But the waistline drooped down by about two centimeters, and the hemline came up zigzagging. I sewed again and finally ran up again after a few days. I was praised for the work I managed to finish, and then I was keenly filled with a joy of having completed the work without giving up and with a sense of gratefulness.
Since I took on hand sewing, I came up with procedures and sewing patterns that were beyond normal thinking and sewed each and every cloth.
My fingertips are my eyes, and I do a lot of things using those. I learned to use my fingertips this way mainly because of my encounter with braille about six years ago. We touch and read braille characters, and they made me recognize something like a haptic depth of fingertips. They also put me in mind of all those long and winding roads I treaded until I met them.
I was four years old that I first felt some uneasy feeling about my vision. Even in the daytime, I often hit things placed on the floor or tatami. In the night, when I went out with 7 or 8 neighboring children, I stumbled on the unpaved road and fell many times. I then noticed I was the only person who stumbled that way and instinctively realized it was due to my being unable to see.
When we entered elementary school, they didn't give any eyesight test back in those days, and therefore I was somehow left fuzzy about my eyesight. In class, I often failed to do things as my classmates did. Every time I failed, I heard crucial words unique to children. When I made some mistakes at home, the words that popped up from my family members without being well digested contained all sizes of daggers. And they sank deeply in my heart and piled up there. As if responding to it, I gradually closed my heart to the entities other than myself. Under those circumstances, I was further plunged into a state of uneasy darkness in the summer at the age of 18 when I was informed of the medical name of the disease and my eyesight data.
The incurable disease that defied any cure gradually progressed, and I closed the door of my heart tighter and tighter because of the misunderstanding and cruel words that never ceased to exist even in the world of grown-ups.
Soon I lost the world of written characters. Even when I realized I could ever go out alone, I couldn't accept the situation. I never felt light-footed at all on my way to a braille class. But I somehow mastered tactile reading, and that made me realize anew that effort leads to results. I felt confident when I earned the new characters. That enabled me to relocate to a new world.
Since then, I made a full use of braille characters, used my fingertips to the full in various activities including cooking and dressmaking. I began to go out to various places in kimono with an obi belt of my own making tied around my waist by the easy tying method I developed. Then many people around me gradually started to tell me, "You really cheered me up." I didn't think I would ever be able to do something useful to others, but I never expected to hear those words; they really took me my surprise.
I came to open the door of my heart little by little as if it was knocked by those encouraging words. It was mainly thanks to the power of braille. The more I realized the great contribution of the braille, the more keenly I felt grateful for my encounter with the braille.
As a token of my gratitude, I want to send something to the braille. The present is not a flower bouquet, but a big vase. I want to send potted white marguerites. I hope to take on various things while taking a good care of fingertips so that I can receive more flower bouquets.