The Otsuki Prize for First Place
gLife Has Soundh
Mr. Minoru Furukawa (65), Izumi City, Osaka Prefecture
Today, when I look deep within my heart, I recall memories of the long-gone past with tears. Until the age of thirteen, I was an active boy and a typical school student, who loved roller-skating and riding my bicycle. A man in our neighborhood who drove a charcoal-fueled taxi often took me to the movies. It was perhaps because of him that I became deeply fond of foreign films. I would ride my bike to theaters to gaze at the signs and still pictures, imagining the storylines of the movies as my head filled with fantasies.

It was around then that I saw a billboard advertising the Western movie Shane, featuring Alan Ladd, which was to open the following week. I was captivated by the still pictures. Deciding immediately that I would go to see the movie on the opening day, I asked my mother for ticket money and carefully placed it in my drawer. Every morning I clutched the money in my hand and waited for opening day to come.

It all happened on October 28, 1953, an unforgettable day for me. It was a drizzly Wednesday afternoon, around four ofclock, when a gunpowder explosion took away the light in an instant. I later heard that in an article with my photograph attached, the newspaper reported that I had lost sight in both eyes and was in a critical condition for a month.

In the hospital when examining me, my doctor repeated the same question, gCan you see this?h However, all I saw were multicolored sponge-like forms\red, blue, yellow, gold and silver moving around. I could see nothing beyond that, almost as if a curtain had been drawn. Outside, the movie Shane, which I had longed to see, was showing. I repeatedly heard its theme song, gCall of the Faraway Hills,h wafting out from a miniature tube radio beside my bed. At that time, I still believed that I would indeed see the movie some day.

After a month in the hospital, my family persuaded me to transfer to the Osaka Prefectural School for the Blind the following spring. They tricked me by saying, gLetfs try to learn Braille until you regain your sight.h Before I became used to the school, I could not even take a step forward for fear that there might be steps or a ditch in front of me. However, I was finally able to walk when I began to trust my escort and believe that I was stepping on firm ground. I quickly learned Braille, but music scores were harder to master. At that point I did not yet have the slightest idea that music scores would bring light back to my life.

The new semester started and I was beginning to get used to life at my new school. I even felt enough freedom in my life to occasionally forget my blindness. However, my heart was never fully satisfied. I had started judo before the accident, and I took to practicing it with so much fervor that it damaged my health. So, along with my sight, I had now been deprived of physical mobility. My heart became vacant, empty; I felt as if I were a bird with broken wings. One day, on the invitation of a friend, I joined the Workers Music Council so that I could listen to music from the movies\a childhood interest of mine. I would go to listen to a professional performance every month to enjoy what was called gpopular musich at the time. While listening to an inspiring performance, I saw colorful, sponge-like forms moving around; the sound of the trumpet coming from the right looked yellow, the flute in the center shone in silver, the piano on the left glittered like dew, and the bass appeared dark brown. It was as if I were looking at a flowerbed blooming in its full glory. This was when I learned that beautiful music had color and the ability to make my heart pound.

At about the time I turned 40, already married and blessed with a child, I became interested in playing movie music on the piano, so I asked an acquaintance to give me private lessons. My teacher used a regular score, while I practiced with a Braille score. Every time I played a beautiful chord, I felt my vision color brightly\it brought me great pleasure. When we moved, I could no longer practice piano so I took up the flute, but this instrument never really produced the music I hoped for. As I was feeling a tinge of emptiness, my daughter sent me a cassette tape of movie theme songs for my birthday. To this day, I have no idea how many times I have listened to it; the music was truly amazing.

One day last year, my daughter told me that Shane would be showing on TV that night and set the video cassette recorder for me. We all waited together for the movie to start. The movie had subtitles. I heard the actual voice of Alan Ladd and the boyfs cute voice as my wife continued to read the subtitles out loud for me. In the end, I heard the theme song, gCall of the Faraway Hills,h from behind the curtain that had been blinding my sight. It was the same song that I had heard in the hospital bed. It was the same song that I had performed in front of 150 people at a birthday party in the school for the blind. It was also one of the songs included in the movie music tape my daughter had given me. I saw the music shed golden light.

That night, I finally saw Shane in my mindfs eye, after fifty-one years of longing to do so. I tried to conjure vague memories of the still photos that I had seen, memories that had long been gone. Much like I had clutched the ticket money that my mother had given me, I took my flute in my hands and began to play the theme song from Shane, gCall of the Faraway Hills.h It was still not very musical, but my heart shone bright, almost as if I had regained my long-lost sight.

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