The bright lights and noise swamped over the bent gnarled woman as she trudged, head bowed, body broken by time, pushing slowly against the oncoming
None of the new ‘Tokyo Neon’ paid her any attention, unless it was to sneer sideways at the figure they perceived as a dinosaur, a relic, a
reminder of days gone by that they were frankly glad to be rid of, dressed in her frayed, battered kimono and rattan hat.
No one noticed the gnarled face glance up at the harsh lights, eyes squinting, struggling vainly to see what could not ever be seen again. Had they
looked, they would of seen a single tear trickle down the canyon map of lines that criss crossed her cheeks, and had they stopped to ask her if she
was ok, would of heard her rasping voice almost whisper to the heavens.
‘Dear stars, where have you gone?’.
No one heard her words, and because of the harshly lit city all around, and the skies drowned out by the glare of an almost dystopian neon nightmare,
the old stooped woman did not see the kerb that caused her fall.
Many fleetingly saw the falling figure, some even heard her call of despair as she tumbled, and some as they flowed around her even heard the slow
thud of flesh onto concrete. No one stopped, no hands bent to aid her. Life moved on around her like a river parting for a jutting rock.
A taxi driver slammed to a stop, his car inches from her head. Horn blaring he leapt out raining a tirade of expletives at the stricken woman, not
thinking, or caring, to assist. Time was money, and this old gnarled figure was wasting both.
No one saw the tears start to flow freely, nor the ragged breathing, and the tears in the kimono that rent the material almost to the waist might of
well had been tears across the dark side of the moon for all the people cared.
The gnarled face looked up at the hazy light polluted skies, and face awash with tears called out, ‘Oh skies of my youth, my beautiful Tokyo, where
The skies remained defiantly neon, and the noise coupled with motion meant she didn't see who came to her aid. Two figures stooped down besides her,
and with gentle hands under her arms, lifted her to her feet. She eyed them both slowly, and saw both were in beautiful blue and white kimonos,
adorned with flowers, koi, swirling prints.
The smile lit her entire face, from her crinkled her deep brown eyes to toothless gums. She rubbed a bent and crippled thumb across the kimono and
felt luxury. She revealed in the touch of another, as years starved of human contact had beaten her down.
The low voice from her side startled her, as it was silken, smooth, and beautiful to the ear. ‘Grandma San, please, our honour, let us help you,
come, walk with us’
She didn’t think twice, reaching out blindly she held tightly to the offered arms.
‘Here, we should take this alley way here, my mother has a shop, we will get you a new kimono’. The old face looked up at the gentle figure. He
was tall, heavily built, strong features and hair! what amazing hair. A top knot of old, so out of fashioned she hadn’t seen one since she was a
young girl on her father.
The alley way loomed dark and foreboding, but suddenly widened to a beautiful two way road, and she gasped with joy at the shops all ablaze with
lanterns, drums, shrines, and there, there in front of her, a kimono shop with patterns so exquisit she gasped as they flowed and swirled in the
Her second companion called out. ‘Mama San, please, come quickly, we have a lady in need of help. She wears ragged clothes!’. The shop door opened
slowly, and down floated and swayed a vision of beauty. Skin on her face a stark white, lips painted with tiny cherry blossoms of red, and eyes! what
beautiful eyes offset with the gentlest golds and reds across the eyelids.
The hand caressed her face, and the old woman flinched backwards, a sure sign years of conditioning at the hands of the new, hip, fashionable
‘Please, my Honour Grandma San, sit awhile, I shall fetch clothes for you’.
The vision of beauty floated away inside the shop, and the old woman through scrunched squinting eyes saw near her face a bowl of steaming rice and
fish. ‘Grandma San, please, if you are hungry, do eat’.
The old eyes looked at the bowl, but she didn’t feel that eating would be good manners amongst such materials. ‘I thank you warmly, but I cannot,
not amongst things of such beauty’. Her host said nothing, just gently set the bowl down with a small smile across his strong face.
‘Please eat if you feel hungry at any time, it is here by your side’.
The words tapered off at the click of the door sliding back, followed by the gentle smell of jasmine and saffron upon the breeze. The old lady sit up
as best she could.
‘Here Grandma San, I have chosen this for you - I hope you find it to your utmost satisfaction’
The box was laid onto the table, and hands gently lifted the kimono out into the street light. The old lady gasped.
The material was of the purest white she had ever seen, cherry blossoms cascaded down from one shoulder to the hemline, and the sleeves and trim were
the deepest inky blue. The right sleeve had a rising sun in gold at the cuff. Never in her life had she owned such a work of art.
Deep sobs started to heave her chest, and fat hot tears stung her face. ‘Madam San, I cannot accept this, its too beautiful for an old crone like
me. Please, no, I cannot accept it’.
Gentle hands lifted her to her feet, and helped her into the door way. ‘Nonsense my honoured guest, you will not take another step without a new
kimono to make you as beautiful outside as you are inside’. The kimono maker guided the crone into a dimly lit room.
Three younger girls slid in behind them, and within minutes, her new gown was wrapped around her. It fitted as if it was made for her by an army of
expert tailors. New sandals caressed her feet like the lightest gossamer slippers.
‘Now Grandma San, my Sons will walk you for a while yet to see you safely along your way’.
The old lady rummaged through her purse and weakly offered up a small coin. The beautiful kimono maker smiled ‘yes, yes that is truly a gift I will
treasure, thank you’.
The old lady didn’t know what to say, but the door slid open behind her, and once more two strong sets of hands helped her out of the shop and down
the small wooden stairs.
The steps didn't seem so steep on the way down, and her feet felt less heavy. Her kimono swished against her skin, and it truly felt for the first
time in decades that she was part of the world around her, not an ill fitting misfit, a dinosaur, a relic of a bygone age.
The noise of the road was gentle to her old ears, and the people around her were happy, smiling to one another, some sat talking, some sat eating
together under moon shaped lamps that glowed gently. It was gentle, peaceful. Her memories took her to roads long lost to development of the city
around her, the roads of her childhood.
A voice startled her back to the present, and a wide eyed young girl was stood almost touching nose to nose. ‘Grandma San! you cannot wear such a
thing of beauty and have those rat tailed locks upon your head! follow me! all of you!’
Her companions smiled at one another, and they followed. Her guide spoke gently once again. ‘Grandma San, please, allow her the pleasure of a hair
style. She is new here, but she does incredible works, you will not be disappointed’.