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“Kage ni Taishite” (“Against the Shadow”) by Shusaku Endo

This story was newly discovered in 2020. Endo is an internationally acclaimed author whose most representative work is “Silence”. It unspools in Manchuria (Endo himself spent his childhood in Dalian). The protagonist’s father is an employee of the South Manchuria Company, and his mother is a violinist. The father believes in a stable life whereas the mother believes in the path of a calling. The protagonist aspires to his mother’s way of living and despises his father’s. However, he is not able to take either of their ways. In the end, he gets torn between his father and mother, which leaves an unerasable dent in him.

What stands out in this story is the nuanced distance: that between his parents; that between him and his parents. His mother advises him.

“Don’t trod on asphalt because there are no footprints left after. It’s safe but boring. Instead leave your footprints walking on a sandy beach, however difficult you find to walk”

Have I left my footprints on my life? However incomplete and faint they can be. Endo’s work always makes me reflect on life. I hope this story will be translated in the near future.

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