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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 2, June 2014


Satoko Murate
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan

Vacant Seat

My father didn’t have a driver’s license, as is often the case with his generation in Japan. Regardless of how inconvenient it was for me, he always asked me to drive him or pick him up. When I was too busy to drive him, we often had quarrels.

“Dad, I am not your chauffeur! Why don’t you take a taxi? ”

“Going by taxi!? That’s a waste of money!”

“You are just being selfish!”

But there were plenty of times when we enjoyed our drives together. When he rode in my car, he always sat in the passenger seat. We talked a lot and a lot about our family, our future, politics, and current trends. I felt the car provided us with an extraordinary space, which made me more frank. So while I was driving, I spoke to him about everything, even things I could not talk about face to face in my house. It was really a wonderful time.

Surprisingly, my father knew driving routes very well even though he had never driven. From the passenger seat, he instructed me on the proper route and the quickest time. He was an excellent navigator indeed. According to his driving theory, going straight as far as possible and reducing the number of turns is the key to the fastest way.

One day in spring, I drove him to his old friend’s house in the suburbs. It was a 30 minute drive from our house. In the car, we enjoyed our conversation as usual, and he was in a happy mood. But it was our last drive. Later that night, he suddenly fell and passed away.

Now, I’m driving straight—just as he taught me.

vacant seat
I speak to father
in my memory



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