I've been trudging there for countless times I couldn't remember anymore. However, on that specific day, as I hear my blackshoes make its light impact against the tiled floors of that seemingly endless hallway, I could feel something extraordinary coming.
And as the scent of old paper and books and wooden shelves wafted my senses, I could hear my own heart beating for something I was not expecting.
I wasn't expecting it but I know deep within I had been waiting for it for a very long time.
The moment I entered one of the portions of the national library I rarely visit, for once I realized how the 'breathing stopped' feels like. It wasn't painful, to be honest it was kind of pleasurable, really.
He was there. His long fingers slowly, carefully flipping through the pages of an old book. His movements were like the movements of someone treating their lover. Careful, gentle, loving.
His eyes, the hue of the ocean during midnight, had this faint smile glinting in them while he was reading. I don't know what he was seeing through those old books, but there was one thing that I am sure of. He is in love with them.
And seeing him like that, made me fall in love with him.
I am so young to be stating things about love and destiny, but I am sure, there is no way on Earth I would experience the throbbing in my chest I am feeling right now to anybody the way I did to him.
I feel like I could watch him forever like this.
But then, everytime I feel like I could come closer to him, this old man would start grabbing my shoulder.
"What do you want?!" I shouted as loud as I could. Why wouldn't I? Each time I am near meeting and knowing my destined man, this old man would appear right on the moment to stop me. What did I do to him to treat me like this?
"Come now, Shinobu, you're disturbing the others..." the old man's voice, weary from running perhaps, pleaded to me.
I yanked my arm away from this old man. Narrowing my eyes he looked like about sixty years of age. His eyes were behind thick glasses so I couldn't really see clearly into them. But who cares?
"Shinobu...please...let's go back?" he urged, gently holding on to my arm once more.
Who's Shinobu anyway?
I gasped. And I felt guilty for making the old man look so much in pain. So with a dejected feeling, I calmed down and allowed this nosy old man to lead me to wherever I came from.
Before we finally went out of the library, I turned my head towards the table and the man reading those old books. But he was already gone.
When will I see him again? Maybe tomorrow? I have to get back here tomorrow. Or maybe perhaps later? Maybe then finally we would be able to meet and talk.
"Please Shinobu, don't run away like that without telling me where you're going," the old man started while still tightly holding my hand. He gave me the feeling that he perhaps was worried I might run away from him any minute.
"Who are you anyway? You keep on butting on my business?" I scowled.
He just sighed and led me to a bench facing a dog statue. I frowned at the unsightly figure before me. There were so many people passing by before my eyes and seeing them annoys me.
"Did you forget again who I was?" he asked me.
"What, do I know you?" I asked back. Well, his face seemed familiar and his voice too. He even somehow gave off that same feeling the guy in the library I fell in love with was giving.
The old man smiled at me. But he looked as if he could cry any minute. I wonder why.
Sometimes, I wonder too...why I couldn't think of any other thing aside from the library. As if there is a wall in my brain closing in on me, locking the things, destroying something precious to me.
"Is he already sleeping?"
"Yeah," I replied wearily. Clearly, being like this I am soon to be using wheelchairs.
I watched Shinobu's doctor pull out the swivel chair from under the table and sat on it gracefully. His blue eyes, with wrinkles on the side behind glasses told me he had been using his eyes all his lifetime to read medical books.
"Say, Miyagi-san," Nowaki-san, my Shinobu's doctor started as he flipped through some files. "Are you considering my suggestion of leaving Takatsuki-san in the home for the aged?"
"But...my Shinobu is only 43! How could I leave him there?" I shakingly replied. How could he possible bring that up again after the strong refusals I gave?
He sighed and gave me a pitiful smile. I hate it when he do that. It was as if he was saying I am being an idiot.
"Miyagi-san...the way Takatsuki-san is right now, he would be taken care of much better in a care facility 24/7 than here with you. You see he ran off again to the library. What if he meets an accident on the way the next time he does that?"
I stiffened on my chair and glared at his shoes. I was mad at him for saying all those things. But in truth I was more than mad at myself because I know everything he said was true.
I slowly buried my wrinkled face on my wrinkled, weak hands and heard the chair creak. After a few moments, I felt the doctor's huge hand tap my shoulder.
"I am leaving now. Please take care of your self...call me if anything happens."
Being left alone in that study room, I suddenly felt the rush and the weight and the pain of the situation I am in.
Truthfully, being in love isn't all rosy colored and all blissful. Right now, they are gray. Gray from age and the withering we experience as the ticking of the clock continues its way around.
My Shinobu and I...we've been living for so long. I haven't even realized the time because every moment I was with him. I felt so alive and young and happy.
But when Shinobu got sick...that was the time I realized that almost twenty years had passed. That was the time that I realized that we're not getting any younger.
Actually, I have no qualms getting old at all. I have no worries of getting old alone and sad because I thought Shinobu would always be there beside me. But then, all the things I thought had been wrong.
I am older but why did Shinobu had to be sick first?
Now, he's locked within his own world of being back to his fourteen year old self.
Why Alzheimer's Disease? I only heard of it. Never have I dreamt of it happening with one of my loved ones.
Why does it have to be Shinobu?
He kept on going back to that library, saying he wanted to meet me. I find myself wanting to scream at him that this old man and that man he was waiting for was the same person.
It was frustrating to watch my Shinobu forget the littlest things when it started. First, the house keys, next he couldn't even find his way home...next he was asking who I was...and then...he was asking who he was.
The doctor told me that in a matter of time, even the fourteen year old self my Shinobu was having would vanish too. And with a straight face told me that my love would be like a shell with no soul in it in no time.
I didn't know how to accept that. If you were told that your loved one would be a vegetable before your very eyes soon, I don't think there would be a person sane enough not to feel enraged about it.
But all that I could do was accept.
I lifted my gaze when I heard the creaking of a door beside my study room. Right away I went out of my shed and found myself standing before my Shinobu.
He is fourty three and yet acting like a child the way he rubs his eyes with the back of his hand.
"Where are you going?" I ask patiently.
Despite his age, he is the most charming guy in the world. He had grown into a fine man. That is all that I can say as I gaze at his honey colored locks and deep brown eyes.
Older, bigger, Alzheimer's or not...he is still my Shinobu.
"Ojii-san...do you know where the library is?" he asks me with the voice that used to shout and curse me for all the idiot things I did before.
"I have to see someone there..." he trails off, looking worried.
I looked to my side, stopping myself so hard from breaking down and crying on the spot. As much as I am happy that Shinobu remembers his past with me, I'd still rather have him old with me with all the memories of our times together intact.
How long before he also forgets that library with me in it?
I hold both his shoulders tightly and smiled to mask my ugly crying face.
"Wait here, I'll get my coat and go with you," I told him.
I went back inside the room to get my coat. On the process I saw these application sheets for the care facility for people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Shinobu's doctor must have left it there.
I gritted my teeth and looked at the man standing all so patiently like a good kid waiting for me. I darted my eyes back on the sheets with blurry eyes. And with my chest heaving from ache, sadness and stubbornness, I grabbed them off the table and crampled them.
I crampled them with all my efforts as if saying "to hell with you all". All the while my destined love was just watching me with questioning eyes.
When I finally tossed the pitiful pieces of paper into the bin, Shinobu had entered the room, staring directly at me.
"Ojii-san...what are those?"
"Nothing..." I sniffed before I circled my arm around his shoulder. "Let's go..."
I am sixty and Shinobu is fourty three. And like any other heterosexual couples, we both have to face old age too. I know that. But when you're partner is like this, when your partner has totally forgotten you and he's only living inside the small world remaining of him, it is harder and growing older is much painful.
And although I am an old man myself...with my hair turning white and my eyes turning blind, I will never leave Shinobu in a care facility alone.
Because I know, if I was the one in his situation, no matter how painful it is, Shinobu wouldn't also let go of me. Even if it means dying slowly from the pain of watching being forgotten by the person you love.
I can only wish that I live longer than Shinobu. So I can take care of him to his last breath.
i have always been wondering how the Junjou Romantica and Sekaiichi Hatsukoi couples will be like in the future once they get past the age of 50. perhaps not many are entertaining these kind of ideas. after all, we crave for the sexy, funny, and crazy rides of these men in their prime. but me? i really think about how they'd look and how they'd end up. will they be together? white hair, wrinkled skin...after the steamy sex had died down, it will all come down to one thing...^^
in old age, it's a matter of companionship left...