Young Nezumi and Granny
“The eastern sky was still inky black when Nezumi awoke. He got up abruptly, and looked around. He heard quiet sobbing. The voice had woken him up.
The campfire was still burning. The flames undulated.
“Gran… what’s wrong?”
The old woman had curled up into a ball with her face in her hands, sobbing. Nezumi had never seen her shed tears before. He inched to her side and placed a hand on her knee.
“What’s wrong? Are you hungry? Does it hurt somewhere?”
The woman did not answer him. Her silent sobbing did not stop.
“Come on, tell me what’s wrong. Does it hurt? Are you upset?” Nezumi shook the woman’s knee. She was the only person in this wide world whom he could trust and lean on.
I don’t want you to cry.
Don’t be in pain. Don’t be sad. Please, gran.
“I am sorry…” The sobbing stopped. “Shame on me… but I could not bear it…”
“But what was wrong? Are you alright?”
The woman’s hand stretched out to pat Nezumi’s head.
“My beloved homeland is so close. But―now, most of the Mao forest is lost. That demonic city is giving rise in its place. Little remains of the forest that I grew up in, where your mother and father grew up in, where you grew up in. We cannot even set foot into that small patch of forest now. Yet, it is close… so close…”
“Gran…” Nezumi touched the woman’s cheek with his fingertips, and wiped her tears away. They were surprisingly hot. “Don’t cry. You can’t cry. It’ll weaken your heart.”