My Japanese friend may have had dreams of escaping her circumstances when she was a child, growing up in a tiny fishermen village in Japan.
By marrying this Irish man, an English teacher she met in Japan, she was saying yes to a brand new life in Europe.
She lived in London in a big and beautiful house. Her 4-year-old daughter was friends with my daughter. Her home was so neat and tidy. Each evening, she would cook a delicious Japanese meal for her husband and family. They had two kids and pregnant with a third. Her husband gave private tennis lessons to their daughter. Even more, she was not required to work outside the home to provide for her children.
A dream? Or hell.
My Japanese friend could not work in the UK because her English level was insufficient. However, her dream was to enroll in English classes so she could find a job, but her husband did not agree to that.
Her dream house? It was her job to clean everything, upstairs and downstairs, while taking care of two small children and one on the way.
The tennis lessons? Her daughter hated tennis. She was forced by her father to play several times a week.
Her family? Her parents did not have enough resources to take a plane from Japan to the UK to see her.
She was stuck. Behind her extreme softness and kindness, I could feel the ugly head of sorrow.
Whenever I deeply looked at her eyes, I could feel myself sunk into her pain and resignation.
My Japanese friend, you will remain in my heart forever. I am aware that you were so delicate, like a fragile flower, that you did not tell me anything about what happened behind closed doors.
I cannot think of you without feeling my throat tighten and my eyes well with tears. I felt so powerless to help you, at a moment where I was escaping abuse myself.
I wrote my book for you as well. The Knot in the Spiral. You are me and I am you. I feel you. I understand. I wish I could have done something. So I do the best I can for the community of women.
For you. For my Japanese friend.