Matsumoto-san is a sweet old man. He sends me some haiku every three months or so and I make one or two haiga from the batch. He likes to frame the haiga so I send him printouts with my hanko and signature. In return, he sends me a gift, a box of English tea one time and of some expensive European chocolate another.
Occasionally, he calls me on the phone. He has some kind of lung desease so he cannot speak for too long. He speaks little by little but with a clear and crisp typical Tokyo dialect. Our conversation is almost entirely one way--he talks about his haiku and I listen. Then
year's end phone call--
I am used to such conversation. My father, who is the same age as Matsumoto-san, does the same. Usually we "talk" over sake. I just keep on drinking sake, ending up more drunken than my father, and usually pretty badly hung over next morning.
At the beginning of last autumn, Matsumoto-san sent me a new batch. I picked one and made a haiga. I edited his haiku, switching a few words and providing an English translation:
June rain passing--
As usual, I made a printout and sent it to him. As usual, he sent me a gift. As usual, he called me, confirming that the gift had arrived OK and expressing gratitude for the correction. And then, as usual, he was gone.
A few months passed. One December day, I received a letter. It was from Matsumoto-san's wife. Only then I learned that Matsumoto-san had passed away the month before. I decided to add my own haiku to his doll haiga:
passing November rain--