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A GOOD scream always works.
 
When I told this to Miyuki, my friend from Brazil, she was taken by surprise but seemed to understand what I was trying to say.
 
Miyuki and I were among 44 teacher-students from different parts of the world, attending a nine-month-long training programme in Japan. We were having a great time together, learning about Japan, about each other and discovering ourselves as well in the process.  Even so, there were times when the routine got too heavy and home seemed too far, and all one wanted to do was get away. 
 
One such afternoon, we were sitting in the institute garden, making the most of the free time after class, before burying ourselves in another round of assignments. 

The usual smile was missing from both our faces. 

‘Time for a good scream,’ I sighed. 

‘Scream!?’ 

‘Yeah.’ I told her how good it felt. 

She simply nodded at the time, but I guess she did find reason, opportunity and place to try out what I had said.   

‘You were right,’ she said a few days later. 

I winked in reply. 

‘Must do it more often,’ we said in unison.

But it was not always easy to find a place where one could simply let the feelings flow, and not let anybody know.

So when all of us went for a trip to the beautiful island of Miyajima, the location and timing seemed just perfect for a good cry. We needed it too, this time for a completely different reason. The course was coming to an end and, after nine months together, it was going to be difficult to say goodbye.

The Itsukushima Jinja (Shinto shrine) complex at Miyajima: Miyajima (Island of Shrines), in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

        The O-torii (Grand Gate), under renovation at the time: Also known as the Floating Gate because it seems afloat at high tide, it is listed as one of the Three Views of Japan.

Will we ever get to meet again? This was the thought uppermost in all 44 minds.

I was with Lee San and Kang San from South Korea as we stood by the vast sea, with only the waves to keep us company and to graciously absorb any noise we could possibly make. So I told them about the Scream.

‘Come on, give it a try. It really feels good,’ I said. 

Lee San look doubtful, but Kang San had utter disbelief written on his face. 

‘Believe me, it works,’ I promised. 

‘Fine, let’s do it,’ Lee San seemed to be fighting some unnamed emotion that could not be contained any more.  

Kang San remained silent; too polite to say I had lost it, and too curious to say No.

So, we faced the sea, ‘One, two, three. Scream,’ I said.

It was obvious that Lee San and Kang San had never done this before.

‘One more try?’ I coaxed.

‘Right,’ the failed attempt seemed to have convinced Lee San of the merits of screaming.   

We took a deep breath and let ourselves go. 

This time it was better, much better. 

We gave a full-throated cry, Lee San and I. Kang San simply opened his mouth in a symbolic gesture of support.   

That was years ago. 

Then the course was over and it was back to our respective countries and our separate lives. Soon, all that remained of our stay in Japan was memories.  I thought the urge to scream would also grow weaker with time and, eventually, retreat into memory. No such luck, however. It persists, although it does not grow.   

Miyuki agrees. She is now married and lives in Japan and we still exchange the occasional letter, so I know. 

The others? 

The King of Calm, Kang San, I am sure, never felt the need to shout again. Lee San? Maybe. We lost touch, so I don’t know.  

What I do know is that as the memories come rushing in, I must quickly find a secluded spot and, S. C. R . EA. M.

May 2017
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