the red ribbon

30 09 2007

I don’t think there’s a way in hell that I can hide the cynicism and sarcasm with which I want to present this fine piece of work that the authors of my junior high textbook whipped up. I guess they weren’t expecting an American to be presenting it, but even so, why would you use the most depressing story ever written to teach students to read. As of 8:50AM tomorrow, I will be person feeling most awkward on the island of Hokkaido (except for Awkward Anthony). Anyway, without further ado, I present “The Red Ribbon.”

When I first met Rumi, she was sitting alone on the seashore. She was looking toward the sea. She was a cute little girl.

Her mother and father went to Hiroshima on August 5. It was just before the last war ended. Before they left the island, they said that they would only stay overnight.

One day passed. Another day passed, and still another day passed. But her parents did not come back.

Rumi’s uncle took her to Hiroshima to look for her parents. They walked around the burned-out city for four days, but they could not find her parents.

After they returned to the island, Rumi went to the seashore every day. She waited there alone for her parents. I felt sad whenever I saw her.

Rumi had a pretty yellow ribbon in her hair. She loved it. It was made by her mother.

One day, I found that her hair was falling out. I said to her, “I’ll make a red ribbon for you when your hair gets better.” She smiled, and then turned toward the sea again to look for a ship. She said, “Mom and Dad said they would only stay overnight.”

A few days later, I saw Rumi on the seashore. She had a hat on. She said, “My uncle gave me this hat. My hair is sick.”

I did not know what to say.

A couple of days later, I found Rumi in her uncle’s arms on the seashore. When I saw her face, I was very surprised.

I hurried back home and made a red ribbon for her. Then I brought it to her. She slowly opened her eyes, and gave me a smile. Her teeth were red with blood.

“Thank … you,” she said weakly, and closed her eyes again. Tears ran down my face.

Two days later, she died in her uncle’s arms on the seashore.


Nakamura Shuko. Sunshine English Course 3. Tokyo: Kairyudo Publishing (2005).




One response

3 10 2007

Wow, could you have made a quick curriculum change so that the kids weren’t scarred for life? Americans are humans too, promise. But the name of the book fits perfectly.

..What did that story even teach them? past tense? storytelling? WWII?

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