The night before my departure I sat in a restaurant opposite my work place drinking a R200.00 glass of champagne (I love you My Honey!!). The only thing occupying my mind was “Oh my God – I am going!! I am REALLY REALLY going!!”. When Rosie originally suggested I put out an appeal, I will admit, I was sceptical. It was a long, long shot. Who in their right mind would fork out their hard earned money to pay for some tree hugging, bunny loving, lettuce licking ditz to trek halfway across the planet to document a slaughter which has nothing to do with them? However, I had nothing to lose. As the old adage goes: nothing ventured, nothing gained. And this is what I learnt – never, ever underestimate the kindness of strangers. It is almost enough to restore one’s faith in humankind. That is until you encounter the horrors which is Taiji.
I only had 6.5 days of paid leave left. It wasn’t nearly enough time to do what needed to be done in Japan. The journey to my final destination alone took three days. My goal was a minimum of two weeks, the balance of my leave coming off my paycheck. It’s a small price to pay to fulfill a dream.
I was to depart the evening of 1 December. I worked half day – the 0.5 of my 6.5 days of leave. It was most likely the longest four and a half hours I have ever experienced.
And then I found myself at the airport, checked in, luggage dropped, about to say goodbye to my husband. This would be the longest we would be apart in thirteen years. My stomach was in a knot. All kinds of thoughts went through my head: would I ever see him again? What if the plane crashes? What if I get arrested? Or kidnapped? Or my lifeless body mysteriously found washed up on the jagged rocks of Japan? And yes, although I always had a flair for the melodramatic, these were possibilities which were shockingly real. Less than a month ago, there was a failed kidnap attempt on Rosie!
In retrospect, what I didn’t know was just how much I would come to rely on my husband’s support, love and comfort. Not a night went by that I didn’t want him to envelop me in his arms and shield me from the daily horrors with his warm body. Such comfort would make you feel more human and less alienated from the world. There were times when I was tired of being strong and I just wanted someone to be strong for me while I just let go.