From Darjas stories

The road to Fuji used to be lined with aluminum cans. Sure. In that heat, the Cola comes to taste and the vending machines are located almost on the ridge of the montain. How outrageous! The world would want to protect the mountain, and behold, it doesn’t seem to care. Do not interfere in the sovereignty of a foreign nation! Mrs. Mountain rises majestically from the plain as it did thousands and thousands of years ago. It is the symbol of Japan. Cans were only a temporary phenomenon.
But I couldn’t understand it then. The discarded cans infuriated me. Especially those at sea. Perhaps also because we do not have the sea in Bohemia. I see those cans like today. There were hundreds, maybe thousands. They floated on the waves of the ocean in the bays of Shikine Island. I, the little brave Czech, wanted to protect the ocean. In all sincerity to the world and to nature. I didn’t want any of us humans to offend the ocean. I was twenty-one years old.
Shikine Island is part of the Izu Archipelago outside Tokyo Bay. You can reach it with a mammoth boat full of students. My Japanese husband and I stood out a little out of the crowd. Me by being a foreigner and he by being a salaryman. I persuaded him to go on this holiday. He came straight to the pier from his office. Boats leave before midnight. He changed into civilian clothes on the toilet. He put a white short-sleeved shirt, tie, trousers with pucks and polished shoes in a bag. Ashamed, he apologized in spirit to his colleagues. He took five whole days off. He would return rested and tanned. How strange, how ungly!
We reached the island before noon. A large crowd emerged from the ship. A large crowd boarded. I’ve never been to an island before. On the waterfront, the passengers were dismantled by the islanders and taken by rusty minibuses to their boarding houses. There was no hotel on the island. So we chose the most expensive guesthouse. We were greeted by an ugly one-storey box house with a concrete balcony. Our room measured six tatami mats. I felt that I imagined it differently. In addition, there were cockroaches. And big cockroaches.
The island measured only twelve kilometers around. We walked to the beaches two to three kilometers through dirt roads between cane plantations. The cicadas roared. It was exotic and adventurous. My husband walked far ahead. Perhaps because he has long legs, although Japanese. Or that he is Japanese, he must let the woman know where is her place. We were newlyweds. I was annoyed by his behavior and was angry with him, but I still liked him very much. I was in love.
The beaches were full of people, all students – girls, boys, all taned and cheering. The girls had make-up according to the color of the swimsuit. Tokyo fashion arrived on a desert island. The sea was beautiful, we humans were beautiful. I was absolutely happy. Sifting the sand between my fingers I tell you I was so excited. The fresh Coca Cola or iced beer from the can was amazing. As in the ads – the sun and the ocean.
My limbs and brain were melting in the scorching sun. I was waiting for the afternoon tide. At four o’clock the water in the sea began to rise, the waves reaching closer and closer to our mattresses, and there was no choice but to drag them. In a moment again. The others moved their mats in the same way. Only the aluminum cans stucked in the sand were left. Water came, lightening them, and suddenly hundreds of cans floated all around, and there were more and more of them as the day and tide increased. Perhaps it was as beautiful as water lilies on the surface. Thousands of colorful water lilies. I looked at it in silent amazement. Then I got up and started collecting the abandoned cans. I carried them in piles far from the shore. It was endless work. The tide was rising, the students were drinking. No one joined. As if they didn’t notice. Only my husband ostentatiously expressed outrage. He pulled the mattress a little further, as if he himself didn’t belong to me. He was ashamed of the cans, but he was much more ashamed of me. He said that I stood up against people and touched them unpleasantly, including him. He is also Japanese. Consideration and tolerance among fellow citizens is a superior virtue he claimed. With his/her simple existence, the provocateur harms the whole more than cans in the ocean.
I did not understand this logic. I thought I must not allow the cans on the ocean. I thought that we cannot do that to the ocean. Help! Aluminum doesn’t dissolve even by salt, you know, you’re all college students, the nation’s future elite.
It is a matter for all of us, us inhabitants of the globe!
On the way to the guesthouse, I collected cans in a bag. My husband went far ahead of me. It bothered him that I was his wife. As a Japanese man, he hated me. As a woman, he liked me. I wandered feeling abandoned and unhappy. I had a dream that night: Millions of cans floated on the waves. A paradise of cans! Cans governed the world!
I kept collecting cans other days too. Our first honeymoon vacation and cans belong together as does the fate of our marriage. Today, the Japanese organize the disposal of aluminum cans in an organized way before they are spread in nature around. The problem of cans was topical for a while, but today it is already under control. It went unnoticed between the camps of cleaners and bouncers. In fact, even the students did not allow me spoiling their beach pleasure at just due to ordinary cans. Instead they humiliated the provocateur and left me forgotten somewhere along the way, angry , sad and sore.

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