I hesitate about what to spoiler tag so I'll just collapse it all
This stuff was nice. Good to hear more about grandma herself, expand on がばいばあちゃん lore. I gotta say, his visit to the doctor hit me unexpectedly hard. I feel like I end up bringing this up enough to be annoying (in the complaint threads or wherever) cause it’s a big thing hanging over my life, but living in America, I’m having a bad time with the medical system. And that moment of waiving the whole cost, and then doubling down all the way to paying for him to to get home? Wow, that’s some real humanity. And then I’m here like “oh no I’m being jealous of the kid eating old food out of a river” haha. Obviously my life is more comfortable than his in like every way, but I guess that’s evidence that the author’s stated goal worked on me to a degree. Which, while I still think he stumbled a little in how he articulated it, ultimately I get more sympathetic over time to what it is I think he’s trying to advocate for all the same. The real warmth in human connections happening in between the abject poverty, which happens with or without money.
I mean I feel like I have to keep emphasizing that I’m not thoughtlessly pining for the past, but certain elements of modern society (this is gonna be heavily biased by where you live too of course) are somewhat atomizing and alienating, and I at least get the impression he has much nicer, stronger relationships with his community. I struggle to have any now and it feels like that’s somewhat just the way the world, in my area of it, has drifted.
Though to undermine my own point a little, I did talk to a friend about this who fairly recently got their medical license, and they described how they’re able to occasionally sneak fee waiving for people, but have to be super discreet and indirect about it. So I guess people like that still exist. But my personal healthcare experience has sadly felt closer to interacting with a giant, impersonal machine.
Regardless, I do have the internet thanks to living right here right now, so I can learn Japanese and read this book
I just read the first of this week’s chapters. Another fun glimpse into their life.
I could make no sense of こげん in these two phrases: こげんことして、ただで済むと思うなよ！ こげん子供っぽいことして、恥ずかしいくなかと?
古言, as my dictionary suggested, does not seem to apply at all. After a bit of searching I found this article on 佐賀弁 that I’m linking here because it seems it might come in useful again.
According to that, こがん、そがん、あがん, どがん are used to mean これ、それ、あれ、どれ respectively.
13 was such a heartwarming chapter! It melts my heart to see how even casual acquaintances had each other’s backs. I don’t think that’s exclusive to the past, however. Kindness is certainly not lost from this world, nor was the world all rosy back then either, I’m sure. The sense of community has been largely lost in large cities (some more than others, though, I’ve noticed - there is still a strong sense of community in certain neighbourhoods), but with the anonymity you get living in a city you also largely escape the close scrutiny of a small community, which can feel pretty oppressive. People are (and were) ostracized in small communities all the time, the same communities that are nothing but kind to most of their members. Cities are more tolerant. Also more indifferent. But there’s still kindness (and cruelty) to be found everywhere.
Still, specifically for healthcare, more than anything, it breaks my heart that there are people who just don’t have access to it for financial reasons. My grandfather was a town family doctor around the time this story takes place. He often waived fees for hard-up families, and often got paid, despite his protests, in eggs, olive oil, vegetables, even little ornaments, whatever they had available. Kindness is usually repaid with kindness.
Oh yeah I don’t know if I implied there was necessarily more kindness in the past or that it’s lost now, or if you’re just expanding on thoughts, but I didn’t mean to say that! I agree but with the caveat that I think it goes well beyond only large cities where people can be somewhat alienated or isolated as I was saying. I’ve spent most of my life in somewhat rural parts of the US (though not like, deeply rural) and my experience has been that there too there’s sort of a loss of public spaces and a division into tiny family units, and even they get broken up when someone moves away for a job or whatever. That’s really the kind of thing I’m getting at – which I agree can have its benefits in that sometimes being left alone is good for you too. But getting the opposite is often very very hard without a lot of concerted effort to seek out people.