Chapter 3: Spring: Among Showers of Blossoms
The dream 2
The moment of Ruica's final farewell came very quickly. She fell sick in the humid rainy season. At first it seemed just a cold, but she aggravated it by sleeping without turning off the air conditioner. She was reluctant to go for medical help because she could not speak Japanese.
One day Kanalu had to go on a business trip to the Kansai area. He was worried about her but she had said she was all right and he left. When he came back from the trip, a shiver ran down his spine, as if he felt the shadow of death in the room. Ruica lay quite still and alone in bed. She did not have the energy to get up. Her hands and forehead were glowing hot. She appeared to be developing pneumonia. Kanalu quickly called for an ambulance. Ruica pleaded helplessly, "I want ice. Please give me ice." Kanalu brought some ice cubes from the refrigerator and smashed them into pieces to give to her. Comforted, she fell asleep in his arms.
"Someday let's go to the village where I grew up. The water that flows from the Tian Shan mountain into Karez is cold and delicious. Have you ever drunk the true water, water that nature has blessed?" As she spoke in a faint whisper, she had seemed to go back and forth between dream and reality.
Kanalu returned alone from the emergency hospital. He had informed Ruica's parents of her illness, but they could not come in time to see her. He could bring home only Ruica's cremated remains.
The icicle melted slowly in his mouth. He remembered the ice he had given to Ruica at that time. "I want to drink the true water. I want to feel the true breeze," Ruica had repeated deliriously. She wanted the true water and wind so much. Where could he find them? Kanalu began his quest to find them soon after Ruica died. Did he see them in the images of Turpan that he had seen yesterday? Karez, qanat, kanat, kunut, and kona, fugara, mayun in other languages, many ancient words, all meaning a system to move water, to preserve water, a canal. The original names for his name, "Kanalu." The water must still be flowing freely there. He wondered whether Ruica had become the wind in that land.
After Ruica passed away, Kanalu settled down in Takafu-cho because he found its water and wind gentle. Melting snow and rain from the mountain seeped into the ground and nourished the roots of the trees; over many years, spring water began to flow. Spring water and well water in the town were pure, cold and tasty. A refreshing breeze blew from the mountains through the broad leaf forest. In the deep snow, people in the town lived cooperatively. Kanalu called to Ruica in the wind. The wind blew as if it responded to him. Kanalu thought Ruica had perhaps been reborn as the wind. He believed that she was in the wind and this wind would be with him wherever he went.
His work to develop the town's system arose from a chance occurrence. One day, he was in the town office, and noticed an old woman struggling with the system to get a seal certified. While helping the old woman, Kanalu noticed that the town's system was difficult for senior citizens to understand, and hard to use for migrants. He resolved to develop a system that would be easy to use by the old woman, and everyone else.
Kanalu volunteered his services to the mayor of the town. The mayor was surprised but very supportive of this project to increase residents' satisfaction. The government information system, the local intranet system and the consensus building system were also developed in the same way. RUICA, a handheld communication tool, was inspired by Kanalu's love for the town. All these systems were designed to be easy-to-use by many people, making the residents' lives more pleasant, and making their living pleasurable. The residents and visitors used RUICA willingly and issued thanks-tickets.
Living among people who appreciated the water and wind and enjoyed a slow life, and enriching their lives, Kanalu felt that he had lived up to Ruica's expectation. He thought if only he and Ruica had moved to the town together, she might have not died. But he believed that she must have brought him here and given him the opportunity to develop these systems.