Reminders Photography Stronghold Gallery will be celebrating its 4th year anniversary. We will be proudly organizing Junpei Ueda’s solo show in upcoming November. He is one of the 2015 Photobook As Object workshop participants and he has been working on his book project “Picture of My Life” almost a year and finally it’ll be launched at the exhibition. Prior to the show, Junpei is sharing a series of his essay.

The afternoon sun broke through the window of the living room. My mother was sitting in the corner, facing the wall, her legs folded beneath her.

“Why are you sitting there like that? Why not sit on the sofa or on a chair?” my father asked.
“I prefer it here. It calms me down.”
“Did you get any sleep? How is your body feeling?”
“I haven’t slept. My head feels so heavy. It’s like my brain is being squeezed. I’m scared.”
She sighed. “Sorry. It’s my fault.”
Suddenly, my mother was squatting down in a small, two tatami-sized wardrobe, a knife in her hand. Finding her missing from the living room, my father started looking for her.
When he found her, he started yelling, “What the hell are you doing?
Why are you so weak? It’s making me crazy too!”
My mother started sobbing hysterically. Pushing my father away, she waved the knife around as my father shouted in bewilderment, “What’s gotten into you? Stop it!”

I woke up with a start. I had no idea where I was. Then I remembered, I’m was in Thailand. It was just a dream. Worried, I called home for the first time in two weeks. I kept calling, but no one answered the phone.

I was excited to be away aboard for the first time. I could not communicate with people in Japanese, but I enjoyed talking to them in my broken English. I did not have to think about my parents, my future or anything complicated. I spent whole days on the beach reading books or drank with young Thais and fooled around at nights. I did not have to do anything but find ways to spend my time and money.

One month had passed. One day, while drinking with a nice Thai couple, the thought of my parents crossed my mind. I wondered how mom was doing. The next day, I woke up in the afternoon, tottered out of my room and called home from a corner phone booth.

“Hello? This is Junpei.”        
“Junpei! Where are you? Hang on, I’ll get Shoichi.”
It was my father’s co-worker on the phone. Why was he at my house?
“Hello,” my brother’s voice came over the phone. “Where the hell are you? Get home right now.”
“What do you mean? I still have one month left in Thailand.”
“Trust me, just come home.”
“How’s mom?”
“Just come home.”
“Why? Did something happen? Where’s dad?”
“Trust me. Come home now.”
My brother’s voice was trembling. Something was terribly wrong.

Were they both dead? I pictured both my parents in a car wreck. I walked along Krabi’s dusty roads back to my room. The more I thought about it, the more it felt like they were already gone.

A friend helped to arrange for my flight back to Japan. I could not think. I only had one wish on my mind; that my parents were still alive.

—- To be continued to #5.

English translation: Miyuki Okuyama
English proofreading: Tan Lee Kuen

Essay archives:
Picture of My Life Essay #1 My Father’s Paintings by Junpei Ueda
Picture of My Life Essay #2 My Parents by Junpei Ueda
Picture of My Life Essay #3 The Escape by Junpei Ueda
His exhibition forthcoming November 3rd to 27th.
Picture of My Life has been all pre-ordered.