The life cycle of a Tokyo cicada

ImageOi you. You know the way they say that just before you die your life flashes right before your eyes? You’ve heard that saying right? Well it’s true. I shit you not. I can vouch for it. My name is Semi. I’m a cicada. It’s a type of insect, stupid. I died today. No joke! Had just got married and everything and then BOOM, lights out. Was just on my way home from doing the shopping when I fell out of the sky. Old age they said the cause of death was. Old age! Can you believe that shit?! I mean I was only alive for two friggin’ days. Lived underground for 17 years before coming to the surface. SEVENTEEN BLOODY YEARS! Every day sitting there in the dark thinking to myself, “Surely today is the day I see daylight?” Nope. What about the next day? Nope. Or the day after that? Nope. My favourite film is Papillon. I used to watch it down there in the dark on an old VCR. Ex-rental copy. What do you mean how can a cicada operate a VCR? Don’t ask stupid questions. Let me finish my story will you. Like I was saying, I liked the way even though Henri Charrière (that’s Papillon) was always locked up in solitary confinement he never gave up. He knew he would get out some day, and that’s exactly how I felt. So I waited. I waited seventeen years. Finally the day came when I was ready to be released. That was two days ago. I poked my head up from the ground and was suddenly flooded by a feeling of intense dread. Pure fear. Have you ever seen the Shawshank Redemption? That’s another one of my all-time favourites. Remember the old guy? I can’t remember his name. He was the guy that when he got out of prison after so long he couldn’t handle it and so he topped himself. Brooks, that was his name. Brooks. Etched his name on the beam in that motel room, remember? That’s how I felt. Institutionalised I think the term is, institutionalised. I mean I’d been under for seventeen years, how else was I supposed to feel? What was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to go? Luckily a friend of mine told me that he had once watched a programme about Tokyo. He told me about Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku. He told me about Koenji, Kichijoji, Shimokita. So I visited them all. That’s what I did. I felt just like Holden Caulfield did in The Catcher in the Rye. I was free. I was on an adventure. I drank sake in a shady snack bar in Ikebukuro. I ate Korean food in Shin Okubo. I remember it all like it was only yesterday. And you know why? Because it was only yesterday. I did it all. I lived a life in two days. And now I’m dead. But you know what? I don’t have any regrets. And not many people can say that. So as a friend of mine once said: get busy living, or get busy dying. That’s goddamn right.

One comment

  1. Richard Barlow

    An existentialist cicada! I bet he’d read Camus as well as watching those films in his seventeen years underground.

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