I was not even twenty, but I was aging at a rapid rate. Right Man had once let it slip that Playboy models were “too old”—and when we were on Sado he had made that odd comment about his own sister, who had not yet reached thirty, looking like an old woman. “Iiko iiko” (“good girl”). As much as possible I had to remain just that. I thought I had been a decent person for most of my life, but being an iiko required absolute obedience—a level of rule-following to which Americans would never subscribe. This was a foreign concept, but I was starting to get it . . .
I slipped back into my dutiful housewife role as quickly as I had left it. Right’s fall term was underway, and he needed to succeed. Every day I put on my apron and, at our makeshift genkan entry, where our shoebox and a square piece of plastic covering the carpet separated the “dirty” shoe area from the rest of the living space, squatted with bent knees, passing my husband his hot bento box filled with Japanese-style homemade delicacies as he prepared to depart for his physics and math classes.
Understandably, the letter to my sister had destroyed any semblance of even the tenuous relationship Right may have managed to maintain with my family. My parents had witnessed my husband’s overbearing behavior firsthand—both with me and toward his own mother during their brief stay on Sado for our wedding. During a time I should have been budding into a young woman I was slipping backward, regressing before their eyes. Although they had always harbored concerns about Right, they had put up with him for my sake. Now they had every reason to cut him out of their lives.
Right was perfectly content with the situation. He had from the beginning written off my family as “low class” and a negative influence, blaming my parents for my unpolished behavior and even for the car accident of so long ago.
Since he was now banned from my parents’ house, Right saw it as his prerogative to ban me from seeing them. When I informed my parents of the new rules, my father, a mild-mannered man who rarely raised his voice, was pushed to the breaking point. One day, on his way in to work, he unexpectedly burst into our university apartment, pinned Right against a wall, and accused him of not knowing how to treat a woman.
Following this incident I was all but isolated in my Japanese world away from Japan.
Having no friends and barred from contact with my own parents, I lived the life of an exile in our small apartment. For nearly a thousand years poets, playwrights, and political figures at odds with whatever regime happened to have been in power had been banished to Sado. The famous exiles were put under house arrest, while the common criminals and homeless individuals were forced to work in the gold mine. I could imagine such characters, alone with their thoughts, going out of their minds. #Japan