They say in death, all things become clear. Tokugen Numataka now knew it was true. Standing over the casket in the Osaka customs office, he felt a bitter clarity he had never known. His religion spoke of circles, of the interconnectedness of life, but Numataka had never had time for religion.
The customs officials had given him an envelope of adoption papers and birth records. “You are this boy’s only living relative,” they had said. “We had a hard time finding you.”
Numataka’s mind reeled back thirty-two years to that rain-soaked night, to the hospital ward where he had deserted his deformed child and dying wife. He had done it in the name of menboku-honor-an empty shadow now.
There was a golden ring enclosed with the papers. It was engraved with words Numataka did not understand. It made no difference; words had no meaning for Numataka anymore. He had forsaken his only son. And now, the cruelest of fates had reunited them.