- 3 min read


Conversations with a friend

One day I noticed my neighbor Ikeda-san walking with a caged parakeet. At first I wondered what she was doing. Perhaps she had been taking care of someone’s bird while they were away, and was now returning the little creature to it’s rightful owner?

My answer came a few days later. Turning the corner on my way home, I literally bumped into Ikeda-san, and she promptly took our chance encounter as an opportunity to introduce me to her new friend, Pepe. As it turned out, the bird she was walking with was her new pet.

She told me of the bird’s special lineage, and pointed out in great detail how finely feathered little Pepe was. After a very thorough introduction, with me bowing to Pepe, and Pepe’s cage bobbing up and down in return, she asked for my good will in welcoming him into the neighborhood!

“Oh,” I said, “if Pepe ever needs anything at all, I hope he won’t hesitate to ask!”

I offered my best wishes to Ikeda-san and Pepe and bowed once more before leaving to cook dinner for my daughter. Thus, a new relationship was born.

Little by little Pepe and I became the best of friends. You see, Ikeda-san took to walking Pepe several times a day, and since she always enjoyed talking to her foreign friend, Charlie, she tended to walk Pepe at a time of day when she was fairly certain that I would be either leaving or returning home.

It’s one thing to meet a neighbor on the way out and simply call out “Hello!” as you pass by. It’s something else again when you are rushing to catch a train or meet someone and your neighbor wants to chat about her friend. You would have to be awfully impolite to not stop and listen. So, when pressed for time, I took to leaving a few minutes earlier than usual, as otherwise I knew that Ikeda-san and Pepe would most likely be waiting.

Ikeda-san was impressed that Pepe responded to my English in much the same way as he did when she spoke Japanese to him. Indeed, she wondered aloud more than once about how intelligent Pepe must be in order to have bi-lingual comprehension skills.

“Just think” she said, “I had six years of English in school and I can barely understand a word you say when you speak English to me. Pepe, on the other hand, hasn’t had any schooling whatsoever, and he understands you better than I do!”

Somehow it was hard to argue with her logic.

Though, when I think about it, Pepe was not all that talkative in either Japanese or English. Not that it mattered. Ikeda-san was happy to do the talking for him.

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Ken k 6 years ago

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