The girl was a troublemaker at school. She often ran away from home and skipped school. It was because of a disturbed family background. Her grades were nearly at the bottom. She was not able to solve any chemistry problem in the final examination because the only chemical formula that she knew was H2O. The girl was bored and wrote about plants that she liked before submitting the examination paper. But the chemistry teacher drew two circles on her scribble on the back page and gave her 45 points because she wanted to take care of her.
It was the teacher that stood up for her student in a teachers’ meeting when she was expelled from school. “The Bible says we need to leave 99 sheep to go find one lost sheep,” she said. She asked other teachers to watch over the young student. We never know what battle she is fighting. Is it true education if we kick a student out of school because she broke some rules? This is a religious school that embraces Christianity. But the school expelled her at last. It deeply wounded her.
The school left one sheep for 99 but the teacher never gave up on the student. The teacher went to the theater every time she performed in a play after being expelled from school, and went to see her plays while repeatedly being in and out of hospital even after lung cancer surgery. She never forgot to write postcards. “Keep singing Miri’s song with Miri’s voice. There will be someone out there who is touched by your song and earns courage from it.”
She became a renowned writer with the teacher’s love and encouragement. She won the Akutagawa prize and her book “Tokyo Ueno Station” was shortlisted for the U.S. 2020 National Book Award for Translated Literature. She is Miri Yu, an ethnic Korean resident in Japan. She cried on the inside in a meeting to look back upon the memory of teacher Kida, the only person who looked after her when she was lost.