Take off the face mask near Fujiyama! Illustration Courtesy Wall Street Journal

Take off the face mask near Fujiyama!

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Take off the face mask near Fujiyama! Illustration Courtesy Wall Street JournalThis is the season that I would cherish when I want to go outdoors to enjoy the refreshing air to my heart’s content and take off my face-mask, once in a while.

Nazarul Islam

Asian countries farther north of equator, are prone to use indigenous expressions about seasons. A common idiom would be interpreted to mean: ‘in early spring when cold and warm days tend to alternate’

My Facebook friend in Osaka was tempted to make up a new expression, “sanryo shisho” (three cool and four hot), for early autumn.

Finally, we are getting some seasonably cool days in the Midwest America. But then the mercury rises again, as if we are being visited by summer and autumn in turns. One day, the sky definitely looks like autumn with “iwashigumo” (small, fleecy cirrocumulus clouds). Then, the towering “nyudogumo” (cumulonimbus thunder clouds) of the summer return the next day.

Still, if I lower my gaze all the way down to the ground, I can see the grass glistening with myriad dewdrops. This is the season when the temperature dips at night and causes atmospheric condensation.

Squatting down to look closely at the dewdrops, I feel as if those tiny crystal balls are working very hard to catch the sun.

People have admired their beauty from time immemorial, as revealed by many old poems. Funya no Asayasu, a “waka” poet of the Heian Period (794-1185 AD) compared dewdrops in windblown fields of autumn to “scattered ornamental beads” in a piece contained in “Hyakunin Isshu,” a classical anthology of 100 waka by 100 poets.

Inherent in the Japanese beauty is their ephemerality. They disappear when the sun comes out. Yuge no Miko, a seventh-century prince, likened his existence to dewdrops.

His poem, included in “Manyoshu” (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), goes: “I would rather disappear like dewdrops on bush clovers in autumn than suffer the pain of love.”

The Japanese word for dewdrops is “tsuyu.” The expression “tsuyu no mi” denotes the impermanence of the self, while “tsuyu no yo” refers to the impermanence of the present world.

By extension, I feel like describing Japanese autumn in recent years as “tsuyu no aki” (literally, dewdrop autumn).

Hot days that only spell summer linger, making me think that even if I “catch” autumn, it will immediately escape my grasp.

In haiku, “sawayaka” (refreshing) is a “kigo” seasonal keyword for autumn, although I would like to also apply it to spring.

This is the season that I would cherish when I want to go outdoors to enjoy the refreshing air to my heart’s content and take off my face-mask, once in a while.

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Nazarul Islam
Nazarul Islam
The Bengal-born writer is a senior educationist settled in USA. He writes for Sindh Courier and the newspapers of Bangladesh, India and America.

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