Maria-sama ga Miteru:Volume23 Chapter8

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Have you ever had the same song running through your head over and over again without being aware of it?

Hello, this is Konno.

Background music that runs through your head and when you notice it, it's like, "Again?" It's completely different to unintentionally replaying a song you love, happening before you're aware of whether your like or dislike it, as though the song has hijacked the broadcasting system in your skull and is having its way with your mind. Of course, sometimes it can be a song you love too. Either way, when you notice it, the thought of "Again?" is often accompanied by "Why this song?"

It could be something you hear on TV frequently, like a song used in a commercial, or a golden oldie on the radio, or sometimes it's a song that you hear someone on the street humming as you pass them.

Well, usually there's something that sets it off. But if you're unaware of what, and suddenly find yourself hearing that song, you'll think "Why?"

The reason I mention this is because I've had a song running through my head the entire time I've been writing this manuscript.

If you think you know which, you're probably right. That song is, undoubtedly, "Ruby no Yubiwa."

"The other side of the frosted glass"[1]

… Aargh, it's no good. Now the intro's running through my head, just from that.

For the last few years, I haven't been listening to music when I work (unless it's to drown out some outside noise) so when I get a song stuck in my head it's quite hard to get it out.

When I was working on the manuscript, the background music seems to disappear. But when I start to forget, it comes back without warning. For instance, when I'm washing the dishes, or having tea, or climbing the stairs.

I'd been thinking that this time was particularly amazing, but recently "Ruby no Yubiwa" has been playing in a TV commercial (in March 2006). Ah, that's why~~

Of course, that song has nothing to do with this volume's subtitle. It's simply a coincidence.

The initial reaction to the subtitle had been, "It's a bit long, don't you think?" but after talking about this and that with my editor I couldn't come up with an alternative so we decided to go with it. I thought, "It's long, it's long," but there have been even longer ones in the past.

Incidentally, on the topic of getting rid of a song that's stuck in your head. The quickest method is to forcibly overwrite it with another song. It's not too hard, a simple song is best. So that even when you hear it playing, you're not bothered by it. Instrumental songs are better, but they don't take hold as easily. When there's an opening, fill it with another song.

Then, before I knew it, I had a song other than "Ruby no Yubiwa" repeating in my head. But both songs shared a common feature in their first line. The key words "frosted glass."

Right, the correct answer was "Sazanka no Yado" … an enka song.

I think it's only people of my generation that would hear that and think, "Right, right, right, right!" Probably.

For all the young people saying, "I've never heard of those songs," (and since this is a Cobalt publication, there's probably a lot!) try asking an adult near you. Both songs were big hits, so they might be able to sing those lines for you. If they sing the whole song, lucky you.

Now then, as for the topic of this volume's story.

Last time, Yumi was rejected by Touko, and this story begins immediately after that. Then they ring in the New Year. It doesn't go as far as the third-term opening ceremony, so I guess it's roughly a "Winter Vacation Story." (uhh … is that a bit too rough?)

Speaking of New Year's games, generally you'd think of things like kite flying (although fried octopus sounds so good its got my stomach rumbling), Japanese badminton, and spinning tops. But, Yumi and the girls get up to none of these. It seems like they'd be able to fly a kite in the garden of the Ogasawara estate.

The penalty for losing at Japanese badminton was having someone write on your face in ink, so that might be a bit rough. They'd end up dirtying their best clothes.

Spinning tops. This was pretty popular way back when I was in elementary school, and I spun the top (a normal Japanese one) numerous times, but I don't think I could do it nowadays. I've lost the knack of spinning it. It's a bit of a digression, but I think I could probably still walk on stilts after all these decades. Ice skating too – after a little while wobbling around by the handrail, I think I'd remember how to do it. Of course, I'm just talking about regular ice skating.

Back to the story.

Yumi's New Year (ah, there might be some spoilers here, so if you're bothered by that and haven't read the book yet, skip over this section).

Elegantly, they played the 100 Poets again this year. With the characters of my story going all out for the cards, if I joined in I'd probably come last. It'd be completely impossible for me to reach for the bottom card after only hearing the first line of the top card.

Every year, there's a report on the 100 Poets Competition on TV (itself a fixture of the season), and it's so quick, so fast. It seems impossible for a human. Less "picking up" and more "grabbing." Every part of their brain must be running at full speed. Since they have to deduce the bottom half from the top half, find where that card is, then grab it. All at hyper-speed. No way I could do that.

Even though I tried my hardest to memorize the poems from 100 Poets when I was in school, I've forgotten pretty much all of them except the major ones. Huh, the major ones? That's how I've thought of them. But it's not like I've taken a survey, so now I'm starting to lose confidence.

The spring has passed and the summer comes again; For the silk-white robes // So they say, are spread to dry on the "Mount of Heaven's Perfume." (Empress Jito)[2]

When I look up at the wide-stretched plain of heaven, is the moon the same // That rose on Mount Mikasa in the land of Kasuga? (Abe no Nakamaro)

Color of the flower has already faded away, when in idle thoughts // My life passes vainly by, as I watch the long rains fall. (Ono no Komachi)

In the peaceful light of the ever-shining sun in the days of spring, // Why do the cherry's new-blown blooms scatter like restless thoughts? (Ki no Tomonori)

– There.

Those were my major ones from the 100 Poems. How about you? Does that match up with your major ones?

Right, right. Apart from the major ones, there were other poems that had a major impact on me when I was younger.

At the present time, since I could bring no offering, see Mount Tamuke! // Here are brocades of red leaves, as a tribute to the gods. (Sugawara no Michizane)

I found that last line, "As a tribute to the gods (Kami no mani mani)" so hilarious that I'd roll around laughing. But that was when I was at the age when even the slightest things seemed funny.

So with that, this volume's afterword begins and ends on the subject of "verse."

Konno Oyuki.

Translator's Notes[edit]

  1. This (in Japanese) is the first line of the song "Ruby no Yubiwa."
  2. Again, translations for the 100 Poems are taken from
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