1st Quarterly, 2006 No.139

An Embarrassing Story

Park Tuchi
The 29th Buraku Liberation Literature Award Winner (Literacy Division) - 2003

It all happened about five years ago. We run a small factory where all of my family work. My husband often berates me for my poor telephone manner.

One day the telephone rang while my husband was out. I answered the phone, "Maido-arigatou-gozaimasu (Thank you for your calling)." It was a call from one of our clients. He said, "We have just received a bill from your company, but there is no shaban (an abbreviated term meaning 'company seal')." I did not understand what shaban meant, so I asked him to repeat himself. "The shaban was not stamped," he said once again. I did not know how to answer him, so I replied, "Maybe our company does not use one." The man murmured, "It is a matter of course to stamp it on the bill." I suddenly realized he was talking about the company seal and said, "Please accept our apologies. We will send a corrected bill to you right away."

I was worrying about being scolded by my husband for the mistake just as he arrived home. I said to him, "One of our clients just called to say the shaban was not stamped on the bill we sent." "What?" he said, "Shaban is no longer alive." "No, not that shaban," I replied, "the shaban for the bill." However, my husband continued to tease me saying, "shaban is dead."

This was due to a mistake in my pronunciation of the Japanese language. The Korean word for a husband's father is "sharban."

As I cannot read or write, I have difficulty guessing the meanings of unfamiliar words. I was left with a feeling of inadequacy for several days after that incident. Another day, while I was eating bread and drinking coffee, I heard something crunching in my mouth as I was chewing. Wondering what it was, I took it out of my mouth. It was a small stone. "I don't believe it! I'm going to take this to the bakery to complain," I said to myself. I wrapped the stone in some tissue paper and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. As I was doing this, I noticed a crack in one of my teeth. Looking in the mirror I saw my front tooth had been chipped. What I thought was a stone was actually a piece of tooth. I was relieved at this discovery since if I had not noticed I would have mistakenly gone to the bakery to complain.

Around that time, I was having trouble with my eyes and was seeing an optometrist almost every day. A few days after I chipped my front tooth, I went to a dentist with my grandchild. There were about five or six people in the waiting room. My grandchild went to the reception to get the form I had to fill in. Returning to me she said, "Grandma, I'll read this out to you, so you answer and I'll fill in the form ok? Have you ever suffered from a major disease?" "No," I answered. "Allergy?" "No." "Blood pressure?" "150" "Where does it ache?" "In my eyes," I answered. The person sitting next to me chuckled. Again, my grandchild asked, "Grandma, where does it ache?" I again replied, "My eyes ache." The person sitting next to me chuckled again, but I did not understand why. Just then my name was called out. I was shaking like a leaf. The nurse said, "Please come in." I went into the dentist's office and the nurse asked me to have a seat.

I sat down on the round stool in front of me. The nurse smiled and said, "Your seat is the other one." I realized I was sitting on the dentist's chair. "I'm sorry," I said and bowed my head. The dentist came over and said gently, "Don't worry, just relax." But I was confused and felt my blood pressure soaring.

When I got home I told my four grandchildren about what happened. They all laughed at my story, saying, "It's no wonder that you were laughed at when you went to the dentist and said your eyes were aching." Finally I understood why I had been laughed at. Even now when I remember it I am still embarrassed.

I wrote this essay myself while leaning at a night school. I feel ashamed at my constant mistakes, but the words flow from my mind one after another as I write, so I really enjoy writing. I want to continue my studies and write many essays. I will work hard every day.

| Back | Home |