Yoghurt by Kazuo Komiya

August 25, 2011

The evening rush hour was setting in and the inside of the train was almost full to the brim. Of course there were still no people reeking of booze, but there were a few housewives on their way home from the department store.

In any case the middle-aged woman who got on at that station was holding something peculiar. She had lots of shopping bags hanging from both arms and was clutching a yoghurt pot in one hand. The lid of the pot had also been peeled off and the yoghurt inside was peeking out. Had she been walking with yoghurt in hand for a long time? It was in a bad way.

That sweetly sour yoghurt-like smell began to drift around the inside of the train and the other passengers, who had grasped the situation, made their moves to watch from a distance.

The middle-aged woman headed further into the carriage in search of a seat, which was obviously not to be found. She was left standing with the yoghurt in one hand. The yoghurt continued to wobble about inside the pot. It could have spilled out at any moment with the sway of the train.

One middle-aged salary man, who couldn’t bear to watch, gave up his seat for the woman. The passengers nearby were left wondering if that was what she had intended. The woman, who had sat down in the seat bowed her head to the salary man a number of a times, then said “Please take this small gift as a token of my gratitude,” as she held out the yoghurt.

Without thinking, the well to do salary man reached out for the yoghurt. Just as he began to question his move, the salary man found he was already clutching the pot in his own hand. He went to give it back but the woman had already fallen fast asleep, her arms wrapped around her shopping bags – boy that was fast work! The man was hit by a blast of cold stares from the other salary men nearby.

He carefully manoeuvred himself around the train so as not to spill the yoghurt. Some people kept quiet and cleared the aisle, some openly raised their eyebrows and some started up whispered conversation in disbelief. Amongst these people was one young man who stood up from his seat.

“Thank you very much,” said the salary man as he sat down in the seat, “I’d like to give you this if you don’t mind.”

The young man took hold of the yoghurt without a second thought. It seemed as though the yoghurt had the mysterious power to make anyone reach out for it when offered. The salary man wasted no time in starting his own pretend nap whilst the young man pushed his way through the passengers with the yoghurt in one hand and headed up the train to find a new receiver.

That yoghurt is quite possibly still knocking about on the train – well somewhere at least – right now. Is there anyone hanging around beside you with yoghurt in hand?


One Response to “Yoghurt by Kazuo Komiya”

  1. ^ ^ very nice story, well translated. last two paragraphs seemed unnecessary for the story though

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