The Absence of Two

九州は宮崎県国富町。
田畑が広がるのどかで小さなこの田舎町に、私の祖母と従兄弟の大輝が共に生きていました。
祖母は忙しい大輝の両親に代わって幼少期より彼を大切に育て、同じ家、同じ部屋で寝食を共にしてきました。いつだったか、大輝が私に向かってこう言ったことがあります。

「ばあちゃんが死ぬまで僕が面倒見る」

その言葉通り、青年へと成長してからも祖母と離れることなく、二人の暮らしは続きました。
私はそんな二人が紡ぐ小さな日常を家族として、写真家として描写し続けました。
そしてこのストーリーは、遠くない将来に訪れるであろう祖母の死をもって終わりを迎えるはずでした。
しかし、それは何の前触れもなくやって来たのでした。

「あれはどこ行ったっちゃろうかい。バイクで行ったっきり帰ってこんが。」

2014年2月末、突然行方不明となった大輝。
何の手がかりも得られないまま、約1年が経過したある日。帰らぬ姿となった大輝が森の中で見つかったのでした。大輝は祖母を置いてその生涯をひっそりと、何も言わず、何も残さず、23年の生涯を自ら閉じたのです。その後を追うかのようにその翌年の2016年、祖母は88歳で他界しました。
最後に残されたのはお互いがお互いを必要しながら、支え合い、労わりながら生きてきた二人の幾葉もの写真たちでした。
小さな田舎町で、小さな日常を生きた、小さな家族の写った写真を通して、私は二人と再び対話してみようと思います。

 

The town kunitomi is located Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu Japan. This small and peaceful rural town with it’s field is where my grandmother,who was born in 1928, and my cousin Daiki, who was born in 1980, lived together.
On behalf of his busy parents, ,y grandmother carefully raised and took care of Daiki from the time he was a child, living with him in the same house, eating and sleeping in the same room together.

“I attended his elementary school entrance ceremony, you know. All the other children’s mothers were young, and I’m sure Daiki wasn’t happy with being the only one who’s grandma showed up. I bet the teachers also wondered why his grandma had come”

So my grandmother said one day, as she showed me a photo album. It contained photographs of many memorable moments, from his Shichi-Go-San celebration and elementary school entrance ceremony to his sports day. The album was like one that could be found in any home, the only slight difference being that my grandmother a ways appe red along with Daiki in the pictures.
For my grandmother, Daiki was no doubt a treasure that had been entrusted to her during the late years of her life. Ever time I visited my grandmother’s house, she told me various stories about Daiki. Always sitting next to her on these occasions was a young Daiki, with a beaming smile on his face. Meanwhile, for Daiki, my grandmother must have been the very “place where he belonged.” Their time together over many years gave birt to a bond that transcended the usual relationship between “grandmother” and “grandchild”- a strong sense of and trust flowed within both of them. One Daiki mentioned to me.

“Since I grew up showered by grandma’s affection, I think it’s natural that I take care of her until she dies.”

True to his words, Daiki remained by my grandmother’s side ever after becoming a student at a nursing university, continuing to live with her and fully devoting himself to her care.

Until I began photographing them, I had observed their small everyday world as nothing out of the ordinary. The image of Daiki off to university. The image of the two of them relaxing on the floor, chatting about small things. Now, however, every time I look at the images I continued to document of the two thought my lens, as both a family member and a photographer , these seemingly ordinary scenes appear as precious moment.
This story was supposed to come to an end with my grandmother’s death, which would no doubt come in the not-so-distant future. However, it unexpectedly ended in a different way.

“I wonder where he’s gone to? He went out on his motorbike and hasn’t been back since”

At the end of February in 2014, Daiki suddenly went missing. There being nothing she could do, my grandmother just stood in front of the window and kept waiting for Daiki to return home. Almost a year passed without any word of his whereabouts, until one day Daiki’s body was found in the anything behind, and had brought an end to the 23 years of his life. Like lush green leaves that turn brown and fall with the passing of the seasons. As if following in his footsteps, in the following year my grandmother passed away.
The last thing that remained were countless photographs of the two and their life together, all the time needing each other, supporting each other, and caring for each other. Thought there photographs, which capture images of his small everyday life in this rural town, I try to reach out to them, and to engage in a dialogue with them once again.