I just had an ichi-nensei class and we treated "This is". (Do we native speakers use the term "treated" ? I hear it so much at school here that I can`t remember-"today Aine sensei we will treat `have you ever.?` So, I will ask you `have you ever killed every ounce of interest a twelve-year-old could have in learning a native language?` and you will answer `Yes, I have`. Ok ?")

In preparation for this "this" class I received an emergency phone call yesterday evening to my apartment asking me to bring in family photos so we could introduce my family. I never get phone calls from school about lesson plans. Why start now Missus?
Anyway, I did what I was told. Blew the pictures up on the photocopier, and off we trotted to drill-and-kill class.

"This is my Mother"
"This is my brother"
"This is.......(hesitation) my.....father.."(cleverly disguised as Uncle Patsy.)
Furious fishing on desk.....
"an-do.......this is my pen" Thank Christ for pens.
Searching of forty faces to see if they noticed.
Search teacher`s face.
Crisis averted.

Why the crisis?
Well, the introducion of my Uncle as my father is something I`ve starting doing because it`s easier.
I used to forget, and when showing pictures....with the "This is my mother, and this is my big brother ." (end of statement).
"So.....where`s your father?"
"erm..........he` the photo.....(Good girl!)....He loves photography...(please don`t notice how poorly taken these snaps are). Yep! He loves photograpy does my...(what`ll I call him) Pop (Pop?) ...does my....Daddy..."
"Oh! How lovely."

But, that was before I thought of just taking a random picture and telling people that this was the man who was half responsible for my existance.
"You look nothing like your father."
"You think? People say we`re identical."
"Really? Now that you say it....I can see it a bit..."

So the truth is one and all, that I don`t have a picture of my father. Well not in Japan..and the one I do have is not recent. It was one of the last photos taken of him before he died, and it`s the only picture of the four of us. It`s not a nice photo, from a photographer`s point of view with its busy curtains in the back ground. It`s also poorly lit. We, the subjects, look stiff. He`s visibly ill in it. I`m barely distinguishable through a mass of baby blankets. My brother looks cute, and my mother is beautiful.

And why not just say it?
Beacause, I`m sick of saying it. I went from everyone knowing because where I live is that small so it was never a question people would ask. Then when I started university I forgot that it wasn`t actually tatooed across my forehead. People actually asked me "so...what`s your father like?" I decided that I would pretend that he was still alive. That didn`t work too well because I used to forget to drop the necessary "Daddy" into random statements. People started noticing. "You never talk about your father."
"Really? I feel like I`m always talking about him. He`s a pain in the arse....don`t do this Aine...don`t do that....."

I don`t like talking about it because we don`t talk about it. And when you learn not to talk about something, you find it hard to learn to be completely comfortable with it. I don`t like admitting that I know nothing about him. I just can`t ask. It`s hard to ask when you know how much it`ll upset the lady he left behind. For God`s sake, the woman still has a box of matches he got when he bought his last car, almost thirty years ago. A twenty-eight year old box of Mazda 323 matches, sitting in a crystal bowl on top of the piano. This is not someone who`s ever really gotten over it. I used to want to use them in front of her just to see how she`d react. Light up a cigarette in front of her just to push her over the edge , a double blow considering her loathing of smoking.
But, I didn`t.

Because that would`ve been cruel and life had already shown her it`s cruelty.

I ought show the photo during class.
with a "this is my mother/brother/me and this is my father"
THAT (SO-RE wa......repeat after Aine-sensei)