"Are you my mother?"
I was waiting at the pedestrian crossing when a man next to me suddenly spoke to me.
I was only a twenty-year-old college student at the time and I'd had no memory of ever having a child in my life. Moreover the man looked well over thirty. Taken aback, I replied:
"No. I... I'm not who you're looking for."
He looked really surprised when I said it. It was as if he didn't understand why I would tell him such an obvious lie. His reaction surprised me.
As soon as the traffic light turned green I quickly walked away.
I might sound rude but he looked like someone mentally disabled, with his large staring eyes and creased shirt, and a small yellow bag that slung across his chest.
That was my first encounter with him, and I would see him many more times over the next few years.
From then on the man would always be waiting for me at the same place we first met and he would always ask me the same question.
"Are you my mother?"
It was uncomfortable but he would go away as soon as I replied "No." He seemed harmless enough and I didn't feel the need to go and report to the police or do anything like that.
However, when later on he started hanging around my college I had to make things clear to him. I remember telling him severely that I never wanted to see him again, and that I found him disgusting.
That seemed to have put him off and after that he didn't appear to me for a long time. Soon I graduated from the college in Tokyo and moved back to my hometown.
About a year later I got a call from a friend in Tokyo.
"Guess what happened?! I saw that stalker of yours near the college and he asked me, 'Where is my mother?' I got freaked out and just ran away."
"Oh yeah, I remember that weird guy!" I thought it was all in the past and it had nothing to do with me anymore. But on the Mother's Day in the following year I found one withered carnation lying at the front door of my house. Immediately I thought, "It's him!" and got really scared. I told my dad about it and we decided to go to the police together. But of course the police wouldn't take us seriously. After all nothing harmful had been done. However I felt very uneasy.
Another few months had passed and one night it was snowing heavily. I was walking along a road when a car slipped and I got caught up in a pile-up.
I got knocked out of consciousness for a moment and the next thing I knew I was sandwiched between a car and a fallen tree. I couldn't move at all and my whole body hurt, but in the confusion that followed no one was able to hear my cries for help.
A fire started close by and I thought this was the end of me when I heard the familiar voice calling:
"Mother! Motherrrrrr!" It was that guy!
Before I knew I was crying out:
"I'm here! Help! I'm right here!!"
He seemed to have been involved in the accident too, since he was bloody all over. Plowing his way through the thick snow, he came over and pulled me out. Now I saw him properly for the first time. I noticed his injuries looked worse and more painful than mine. But in spite of all this he only looked at me and smiled.
"Are you my mother?" he asked me again.
An un-nameable emotion welled up inside me and I only managed to utter:
"... Yes... Yes." I started crying my eyes out.
But when I wiped my tears and looked up again he was not there anymore. In just a brief moment he had disappeared.
That was the last I saw of him. I haven't laid my eyes on him for years now. I still don't know what he really was but I don't think he was a ghost or that type of thing...
Whenever it snows I find myself thinking about him - my son.
Whose name I will never know.