Mirrored with permission from Outpost Nine and AzraelMoeko's Owl
Let me introduce you to Moeko. She's a ninensei (American 8th grade) at one of my schools. When I first met her though, she was an ichinensei (American 7th grade). My very first week at this school, I was in the gym watching a practice for Sports Day. She came and sat down beside me, and had a conversation with me - in English! With her level, I thought she was an exceptionally skilled sannensei (American 9th grade), so I was shocked to find her in an ichinensei class.
In class she's always very quiet. She barely smiles at some of my jokes/antics, which crack the other students up. But whenever we do a writing excercise, most students just do the required 3-4 sentences. Moeko turns in two paragraphs. Sometimes she'll come up to me after class, and ask me a question in English, or just have a random conversation.
Her birthday was in November. I congratulated her, and she asked me when mine was. I told her (it was in January). She said, in English, "I will make a card and present for you. Please look forward to it." I thought that was just about the sweetest thing I'd ever heard. But I certainly didn't expect her to remember, much less actually give me something.
December had been particularly hard, since this was when the long and excruciating process of the break-up with my ex started. It finally ended on a Saturday - the day after my birthday. My ex had forgotten my birthday, and when I called her about it, I found that she'd spent the day fucking the 5th guy she cheated on me with, the one who would finally put the last nail in the coffin. I wish I could say that was the extent of her awfulness, but it was really only the icing on a very large cake. I don't remember Sunday, but I don't imagine it being a particularly bright and chipper day.
And then on Monday, I went to Moeko's class.
It was any other class, really. Moeko was her usual self, smiling awkwardly at my jokes and quietly doing her work. I'd of course remembered what she said back in November, but I didn't actually expect anything from her. But after class ended, she came up to me and, as she said she would, gave me a card and present. I was surprised. Not only did she remember, she carried through with it! I thanked her profusely, and returned back to the teachers room with my gift. And then I was floored.
Inside of a delicately wrapped package was a HAND-MADE owl she'd made. Completely hand-made, there was nothing even remotely factory about it. There was also a hand-made little basket, with a scroll inside, The scroll read, in English "This is the year of the cock. So this owl is our mascot". Upon opening the card, she'd drawn all sorts of really cute and really skilled drawings inside, along with "Happy Birthday!" in English, and the one that really got to me, "If you are happy, I am happy, too."
I couldn't believe it. To get anything at all is extraordinary, but THIS?! It was simply amazing. Especially compared to how my ex had "remembered" my birthday just three days before. It was one hell of a contrast, and it'd be an understatement to say I was moved.
If you've read some of the other editorials on this site, you may know that I used to be a nice guy. I went out of my way to make people happy. That alone was enough for me, I didn't expect reciprocation. But, when I went through rough times, it was easy to see that those I did so much for were nowhere to be found. It hurt, a lot. Forced me to change who I was. No longer did I do things for people's happiness - I didn't do things for people at all. If I did, there was always the "What do I get out of it?" angle. And at times, I wasn't even remotely nice to the general population.
The anger faded eventually and I was able to become less of a jerk, but I still didn't do things for others unless they'd established themselves as a friend, and I saw some possible benefit for myself in it. But then my girlfriend came along, and slowly I opened up to her as I loved her. I went out of my way, pretty much all the time, for her (sacrificing a lot of time, money, among other things). She rarely if ever reciprocated, and it did bother me, but I held my ground and hoped one day she'd change and be more giving.
Then, that bitch hurt me in the worst possible way. I mean, I've been counselor to a lot of love problems, and I've heard a lot of downright shitty treatment, but I honestly can't think of anything worse than what she did. Yeah, she's a terrible person and I am in no way repsonsible for the break-up. But I was angry at myself. I'd done it again. I'd given my all for someone so wretched, so undeserving. More than her awfulness, that was eating me inside. I felt my heart turning black again, as I wondered what the point of ever being nice again was.
And now I've got Moeko's owl.
I sat there, trying to figure out why she would do this. The card alone must have taken hours to draw AND color. I can't possibly imagine how much effort she would have had to put into the owl and basket. Why? She knows I'm already very impressed with her. She knows I have no influence over her grades. There's nothing in it for her. Why? I would have been thrilled if she'd given me a store-bought card and Hello Kitty, but she went through the trouble to MAKE all that stuff! Why? And then I come back to the card - "If you are happy, I am happy, too."
It's how I used to be.
I sat at my desk holding the owl, and my eyes filled with tears. I felt any darkness looming over my heart starting to obliterate. I couldn't even think about my ex-girlfriend's treachery. All I could do was look at this owl - this amazing little owl, and choke back tears. For once, someone's kindness, someone's sacrifice, had not been wasted.
When I saw her the next day, I told her really, truly, honestly thank you. That I loved the gift and it moved me very much. She gave her usual sort-of awkward smile and said in English "I made it." I know. The magnitude of the gift, and the timing...I don't know if she will ever truly understand what she did for me. Maybe she doesn't have to.
"If you are happy, I am happy, too."
I dunno where my life's travels will take me. And I can't make any promises, or be certain of anything. But there is one thing I can guarantee. No matter where I end up, Moeko's owl will come with me. If I ever doubt myself, all I will need to do is look at it. And I will never, ever forget little Moeko. Never let the world change you Moeko, because you have the power to save the world. I know, because you saved me.
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