⟨ Wabi Sabi ⟩

The sparklers

The dim light that brightens up the fearful darkness

Words and Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

大哥一家四口來日本旅行,去過動物園、遊樂場後,便繞來名古屋的郊區探我。到來前一天的晚上,收到大嫂的短訊,問我家附近有否可以放煙花的地方,說在百元店見到手提煙花組。我以為是小孩子鬧著要玩,後來才發現真正貪玩的,是童心未泯的大嫂。

煙花是日本夏季的風物詩,暑假時各地都會舉行火花大會,商店裡也很容易找到煙花,只要是執在手裡而非飛上天的,在大部份地方都能玩。

炎夏的大白天,煙花點著了亦難見火花,但我們還是在家裡的小森林點起煙花來。陽光下,燃起的煙花只燒出濃煙,以及零零碎碎的火屑,本來興致勃勃的大嫂與孩子們都意興闌珊。負責點火的大哥本來就急性子,見大家索然無味的樣子,便一把將一套七枝的煙花握成一束,花火直噴,孩子們都嚇得躲在媽媽身後,我在旁看得哈哈大笑。

煙花組後有幾條細細軟軟的像紙條的,是線香煙花,拈著煙花的尾巴,垂著燃點,花火燒起緩緩往上爬,起初的花火細碎,中段時突然就活躍起來,綻出一個又一個的菊形花火,而且越來越急,越來越有拼勁,最後又慢慢地平靜下來,直到最後連中央的小火球最消去,灰飛煙滅。日本人總將線香煙花比喻為人生,哥哥的孩子們,便是正吵吵嚷嚷地綻放在細碎的花火。

可惜天還太亮,我們沒法向他們預告他們往後的人生,將如此脆弱微小,如此燦爛美麗。而這脆弱而燦爛的,微小而美麗的,待天黑了,甚至黑得心有所懼時,才得見,讓我們照亮自己,同時照亮同樣在照亮我們的別人。

My brother’s family of four has recently traveled to Japan. After visiting the zoo and theme parks, they took a detour to the suburb of Nagoya to see me. The night before their arrival, my sister-in-law texted me to ask if it was allowed to play fireworks near my place as she bought some from a 100-yen shop. In the beginning, I thought it must be the kids who wanted to play with it, only until later did I realize it was my sister-in-law who wanted to experience the childhood fun.
 

Firework is the highlight of summer in Japan, The most important events are for sure the firework shows held in different areas during the summer vacation. For people who would like to light their own fireworks, they can also get some small ones from shops and play around with them in most places.
 

Although it was difficult to see the fireworks glittering during the bright hot summer day, we decided to still light it up in the woods near our home. Under the glaring sun, all we could see was smoke and some burning ashes. My sister-in-law and the children were very disappointed. Seeing their unhappy face, my brother, who is always an impatient person, decided to bundle up the 7 sticks of fireworks together. The spark was flying everywhere, the children were so frightened and hid behind their mother.

At the back of the firework package were some thin thread-like sparklers. Riding on the last bit of fire from the burning fireworks, we lit up the sparkler with the tip facing down. The fire rose all the way up. As it approached the middle of the sparkler, it began to burn vigorously and formed numerous chamomile-shaped sparkles. It continued to burn intensely until it reached the end and died out. Japanese people like to compare sparklers, which my nephews were happily playing with, to the life of the human. The sky was unfortunately too bright for us to see the sparkle clearly. They did not get to see how vulnerable yet glamorous it was. Only until the sky gets dark and you feel insecure in darkness can one see how the sparkle of our life can bring brightness to ourselves and to light up others’ lives.