PART 1- DREA: A TINY GLIMPSE OF THE RISING SUN
“Good Afternoon! Is this Miss Vela on the line?” The person who has an unfamiliar English accent asked.
“Yes, this is her talking. Who’s this please?” I answered curiously with a hint of anxiety.
“Hello! This is Tsutomu Pierre.”
“Excuse me?” Crap. I didn’t quite catch that. The accent was really weird.
“This is Tsutomu Pierre. A friend of Reina!”
“Ahhh. I see. Yes, I hear you clearly now....Is, ahmmm.... Is there something you need from me? Is Reina Okay? ”
Oh, this is a call from Japan. I felt a bit embarrassed. Ugh, that was quite rude to say, I think. But I am a very straightforward person, I really couldn’t help it; and besides, that was really an unfamiliar accent and quite an inaudible one. Did something happen to my cousin though?
" Ah, okay Miss Vela, Reina-chan had forwarded your resume to me a week ago, because I was desperately searching for a proxy professor to teach my class for six months. Reasons are; I will be going there, to make a few arrangements for the next three months and afterwards, to Las Vegas with Reina-chan. I want someone who has an experience in teaching university-level art courses. Reina –chan told me that you have taught arts in university. I also need someone who can speak English well. So, I think you are the perfect person for this. Hello?! Miss Vela are you still there?”
“Yes, go on. I am still here.”
I answered with a cracked voice. Mr. Tsutomu’s words became as clear as crystal the instant I heard what my cousin have done. My heart swiftly stopped and melted. I felt like crying. Reina definitely deserve a lavish Christmas gift from me this year; something like the Emerald package in my favorite nail salon or an All –You-Can-Eat buffet in a five-star hotel if this will really happen. What a sudden turn out of events in just one day! Lord, make this real please. My brain cells are bursting with joy.
Mr. Tsutomu Pierre continued, “So yes, Miss Vela. I hope you are interested in my offer. I know this is only for six months, but if you find the work enjoyable, we can upgrade your holiday working visa to a working one. The only catch is; you should apply as a part-time assistant professor whilst enrolled and actively studying a short course, or, you’ll be in an apprentice-ship under other professors who are artists too, in order for you to be able to teach full time the next school year. What do you think, Miss Vela? Actually, I only want YOU to take this job because, I could not trust anyone else, and you are so favored by your cousin.”
“Your offer is a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity, if I am going to be honest. If I’ll say yes, when can I leave?” Wait...wait... that sounded too eager.
“Well, I am expecting that all of your papers will be prepared and ready for processing a month from now. Don’t worry about the accommodation and the tickets. If you have your passport with you and everything goes smooth sailing, I reckon you’ll be here in two to three months. I’ll personally provide you a two-week turnover and orientation. So please, say yes.”
I stared at the wall, the clock and then, my wall-of-fame. This is it. This is finally it. I waited 10 years for a fruitful career. Lord Jesus, I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this...But thank you. Thank you. Lord, I promise myself that I won’t get into any silly relationships, or get a boyfriend. Just give me this job, a job that I’ll really settle myself with. PLEASE. I silently prayed, and begged.
Mr. Tsutomu on the other line has something else to say.
“Miss Vela, just in case you say yes, may I remind you that you’ll be here during the autumn and winter seasons. Since you studied abroad before, I guess you’re familiar with the cold eh? I know that you’re a tropical girl, but I am also very aware that surviving and adapting to a new and different world is a piece of cake to you. Your people are very resilient, and it is quite an understatement. Just look at your cousin. She’s already a citizen here. So, pack all your winter transition clothes, and all the moisturiser that you’ve got, because winter here is really harsh.”
“Yes, I know. I will be really prepared.”
“And lastly Miss Vela, I’ll be expecting you. Thank you for lending your ears to my offer. I am hoping for a very positive response. See you soon. Anyways, here’s your cousin. She wants to talk you.”
“Thank you Mr. Tsutomu. Thank you very much.”
Then, basing from the background sounds, Mr. Tsutomu quickly gave the phone to my cousin without hearing my last sentence. I really ran out of words to say. I am just so grateful and hopeful. Nothing more and nothing less.
“ANDREAAAAAAA!!!!! God. I miss you so much!! How are you?!” Reina’s shriek is enough to dismantle all the tiny bones in my ear and make me deaf.
“We just Facebook messengered last month. Hey... Thank you so much. Haha. I thought you are just going to copy the format of my resume. Never in my wildest dreams that you are prone of exploiting your relatives. How’s everything back there? And wait, how did you know Mr. Tsutomu? Is he a regular in your omise ?”
“Hahahahahaha. Pierre-kun, well, yes...He is a regular in my omise. But he just really became a regular last season you know. Because this beauty of mine was so irresistible that it was very inevitable for him to come to my pub every night...and, I guess you know what happened. This alluring aura of mine is like a magnet. Hahaha.”
I knew from that childish gush, that there’s something fishy going on between Mr. Tsutomu and this hoe-cousin of mine.
“So, are you dating Mr. Tsutomu, huh...REINIER? Answer me.”
I just have to hardly emphasize her man-name so I can get truthful answers here.
“EXCUSE ME?!!! How dare you call me by that disgusting name! You, boring old-maid, ciswoman! You don’t have the right. These boobs, and my recent surgery cost more than your two Masters degrees! If you call me by that long-forgotten, thrown-in-the-fires-of-hell name again, this job offer will be gone in no time. You know, we have more respectful relatives who need this. I know, you know that for a fact. Huh! Hahahaha.”
What an evil laugh.
“Answer my question Reniiiieee...a. Don’t make me repeat myself.” That sarcasm arose in no time.
“What do you think, bitch?” she replied.
“Well, first name basis plus the “kun”, and, the fact that he is coming here to make a few arrangements. Hahahaha. Pretty obvious. What are those arrangements huh, Reina? Are you going to tell aunt and uncle that you are going to get married? Will Mr. Tsutomu be needing their blessings?”
“Bitch, you are learning. No, not that. He told you that we will be flying to Las Vegas as well right? We are going to get married there. Listen here. I know how open our country is for the LGBTQ community and I am quite happy and grateful that I was born there. My rainbow siblings are quite enjoying the freedom and equal opportunities from where you are now, but it’s quite the opposite here in this fast-paced country. So advance in everything, yet it is pretty backwards in most of the important matters. You’ll know, once you get here. I would like to get married there, of course, who doesn’t? But you know our laws don’t allow it YET. I can’t wait for the time that the Catholic church will just mind their own fucking businesses and avoid interfering with politics and the law. I think everything will be fine if it’s like that from the very beginning. You know what I mean? And as for the arrangements...I’ll keep it a secret for now. Don’t worry, I’ll tell everything when you get here.”
Reina explained in a sudden serious tone, I couldn’t help but to listen carefully and agree with all that she’d said.
“Listen carefully Andrea. I know you’re collecting titles and such and I am so proud of you, you know that. The work that Pierre-kun is offering you right now is something you should really really grab. Do you know why?” Reina asked in an insinuating tone.
“Let’s be real, as someone who do not live in this country and from a developing nation, a job such as a professor is a definite lucky strike. You know what I mean. You can’t have a white collar job here in an instant no matter how many diplomas you’ve got in your arsenal. There are certain jobs that you can take only as a gaijin. Now, if you decided to continue working here after the six-month period Pierre-kun gave, you can apply at the university but it will never be in a professor position. By God’s grace, you can really be blessed to even have an assistant professor position but most likely, it will be more in an apprentice level or an entry level teaching job, specially if you have zero knowledge and ability to communicate in Japanese. It’s also thanks to Pierre-kun because his class is an international class meant for foreign students who work in the morning and study at night. That’s why you can easily teach using English. By the time that this offer is over and you decide to continue, I swear that you’ll be handling local kids. So...If that’s the case, will you be okay with that? I mean look at me, I made this far. I know you can too. My faith in you is very immense.”
“That fact, I know. That’s why I’ll try my very best to study the language as well. Hey! I’ve been in how many jobs? I can always start from scratch you know that.” I told Reina proudly.
“Yes, I know Andrea. But don’t get used to it. You need to find a work where you can establish yourself properly. Pierre-Kun and I, made the first step for you. All we need is the decision and we won’t be waiting till next week. If I don’t get a response few days from now, we’ll quickly assume that you’re not into it. I hope you understand. Pierre-kun and I are already behind our schedule. ”
Reina tried her best to convince and knock my conscience at the same time. What a talented little hoe.
“Don’t worry Reina. I won’t make you wait that long, in fact...I am saying YES. Yes! I want to grab that gold of a job offer. I mean, I don’t want to let you hanging and waste both of your time when I really really want this. You have no idea how happy Mr. Tsutomu made me when I just heard that you gave my resume to him.”
“Bitch, are you crying?! Hahahahha. Okay, since that is your decision, then let’s proceed to the most difficult step in this new major chapter of your life. You said yes so, It’s a touch-move, Andrea.”
Reina sounds excited, but this is making me nervous.
“Don’t get mad, but seriously, if you are planning to work and stay here for a long period of time and be...hmm, someone who won’t be prone to hatred specially in the trains you know, ugh... You really need to shed those extra pounds.”
“Excuse me? ” I replied in disbelief.
No. No. NO
I hate it when people tell the good news first then spoil everything by telling the bad news afterwards.
This is over. Shit. Wait. I just said yes a few seconds ago, but this is so over now. My mind wants me to make a quick U-Turn, but my heart tells me otherwise and wants me to continue listening to Reina even if I feel there’s worse news to come.