The Picture

Noriko Saito
Koriyama Xaverio Middle School

There was a picture placed on the table. I took the picture, and saw a very close bonding of a mother and child. In the picture, I was the lovely baby with curly hair and my mother was very happy carrying me. I cannot forget the expressions shown on the faces. Actually, before I was born, my mother waited long for a baby to come. So the smile I saw in the picture is a genuine smile full of joy and happiness.

Years have passed and Ifm fifteen years old now. But through the years as I was growing, I noticed that mother became stricter than when I was younger. I always received her scolding and sermons for undone housework and the like. Can you imagine that I vacuum all rooms of the house before coming to school every day? Well, Ifm a very diligent child! My mother always says, gYou were so cute and clever when you were a baby!h Am I not cute and clever now? And she often says, gBig sisters should be good models to young sisters.h I know that, but itfs not fair because she was only strict to me. I cannot understand. So I feel that she is too noisy, I answer back to her, and then we fight. Itfs always that way. One day, because I have a lot of homework, I didnft want to do the dishes, even though it was my turn to do so. She scolded me and said, gEven if you do it, youfll never gain anything anyway.h I thought I was being scolded for some trivial matters. So then I became stubborn. I started to build walls between us, not wanting to see, talk, listen and be with her anymore.

But, my mother is always around in spite of my rudeness. While I was growing, I became aware of my physical defect. My body structure isnft balanced. All the right side, length, weight and thickness arenft same from my left side. My mother looked for special pairs of shoes, which I wore every time my size became bigger. With this defect, I didnft like my body, so I expected special attention from mother. But still she treated me casually. I canft imagine the shock and frustration she felt when she first saw her newly born baby with certain defects. But, her feelings didnft show any regrets. Maybe therefs something in her that I couldnft understand.

Then I started to open my eyes. I looked for an answer. Oh! Yes, itfs the picture. I remembered whatfs in the picture. I realized that even if I want to detach myself from my mother, itfs impossible. This bond ties my mother and me since I was born. Her scolding, sermons and closely watching my behavior just let the bond grow stronger every day. I misunderstood her and Ifm truly sorry about it. Maybe this is my motherfs way of helping me to be the best. She really tried hard to raise me as normal as possible. On the other hand, I remembered there were calm days when we talked, laughed and wefre happy together. We can frankly say anything about each other. Well, itfs not that bad as I thought. I think she loves me.

I still donft know how deep and wide the meaning of this bond is. But for me, my mother is the living definition of bonding. She showed me in her own meaningful way how to use this magic word to follow my dreams. I want to work with the United Nations. I want to help poor children and cooperate to solve international problems. I want to spread the ideas of bonding, weaving the strings of all people into one cloth of utopia. What the world needs now is, gHelp,h gCooperationh and, you know, gBonding.h I want to carry this picture as I journey to my mission in life. The origin of my idea, after all, itfs my mother and I who are in the picture.

(4-28 Speech in 62nd Contest, 2010)

(C)JNSA FUND/the Yomiuri Shimbun

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