My neighbour (with mike) and Monty at karaoke in Tokyo, August 2009.
You've probably heard me talk about missing friends recently.
Monty Dickson was reported as missing after the tsunami of March 11. One of the first images we saw when power returned here was the town of Rikuzentakata. Watching, as the wave devoured the main city area, I said to my neighbours, "That's Monty's town. I hope he's alright."
Information was slow coming out of Takata, as we call it for short. Eventually we heard that Monty had spoken to his girlfriend right after the quake. He told her he'd evacuated to the 3rd floor of the City Hall, as he was supposed to. That very night, we saw an interview with a woman from Takata. She'd been at City Hall and left to go to the library and get her daughter. When the wave hit, they were pulled apart. Then they showed a picture of where the City Hall used to be.
Last week Tuesday (Monday on your side of the world) they found a body fitting Monty's description. His girlfriend went to identify him.
As per usual, we found out on Facebook. This is one of the biggest cultural differences I've experienced here. In the West, information goes out as fast as you can get it out. In Japan, there's a chain of command to everything. All the right people have to be informed first and what's not. So I read the article on World Blog before it was officially announced here. I understand this now, but it took some getting used to.
I first met Monty in Tokyo almost 2 years ago. We're both participants on the JET and I went down to Tokyo as a 'sempai' (=senior) JET from Iwate to orientate the newbies. Monty and I weren't close friends, and since we lived at opposite ends of the biggest mainland prefecture, we really only met up at official prefectural events. (A prefecture is like the American equivalent of a state. Only much, much tinier.) Monty had an amazingly subtle sense of humour. My neighbour absolutely loved it.
He also had the most incredible Japanese, something which I really admire. (Even though Japanese is my 4th foreign language, it does not come easy. And while I get by in any situation you throw me into, I'd never tell you I'm fluent.) A fact that no doubt contributed to the fact that he was practically a superhero in Takata. Monty integrated so well into his community that the last time I saw him was in February, when my neighbour opened up a Japanese travel magazine and was shocked to find Monty smiling out at him. 流石, Monty-san, 流石.
Rest In Peace Eternal.
NB. 流石 is pronounced sasuga, and means "just as expected".
I am from the beautiful island of Barbados, but I currently live and work on the islands of Japan. I am a lover of languages; a creative writer in my native language, English, and a speaker to various degrees of fluency of 4 others.