I was in New York at the MOMA a while back when I came across a video installation by Meiro Koizumi called My Voice Would Reach You. I found it to be truly inspiring.
It starts off with a man standing at the corner of a busy Japanese city intersection, speaking to his mother on his cell phone. I only hear his side of the conversation and could immediately identify with this character because I know this is the kind of conversation I have with my own mother – telling her that I’m doing well, thanking her for giving me leftover food to take home with me, insisting that I treat her to a vacation or buy her something extravagant, even though she protests.
It’s a heart warming scene to see how much this young man cares about his mother – how he wants to treat his mother by taking her to the hot springs.
The scene ends and a series of video, text and images appear as the main character begins to read a letter he wrote to his mother. It starts off with footage of people walking along the busy streets of Tokyo. The main character begins reading the letter, saying that he doesn’t know what to write but thinks back to a memory when his mother made him lunch that he used to be ashamed of because he would compare it to the meals his peers would have, which he thought were better than his. Despite his shame, he admitted that the lunch she made was really delicious.
As he begins to tell this story, an image of a mother and child appears on the screen. The image brings back memories I’ve shared with my mother as a child. His story resonates with me because there were countless times when I was ashamed of things that made me different from my peers – that I was raised with a single mother who couldn’t afford to buy me the best clothes or toys that other children my age had. That she couldn’t be the father I always wanted and needed in my life.
I was immediately brought to tears when I recognized how ashamed of myself and my mother I was as a child. My mother did the best she could with the resources she had but I was ignorant at the time and could remember the build up of resentment I developed towards her.
The video continues with scenes from the opening footage where the man is talking to his mother on his cell phone, only this time you hear the person on the other end of the line. It is not his mother but some extremely polite Japanese person who tells him he has the wrong number and continues to engage him in this imaginary conversation he has with his mother.
The last scene made me realize that this character’s mother no longer existed. It made sense now, the way he wrote the letter, that he was reminiscing about the past with her because she was no longer alive.
I felt sorry for the main character but began to appreciate how lucky I am to still have my mother in my life. It made me want to tell her how much I love and appreciate having her in my life while she is still alive.