Days of Happiness
[Translated from Kenshi Yonezu's Japanese original.]
There was once a certain caribou.
The caribou worked for a company and led a very busy life.
Day after day, he went back and forth to the company, staring at his watch all the while.
The caribou was troubled.
However long and hard he worked, he found that the days only repeated themselves.
No matter how much time passed, he was always left weary.
He took on more and more duties at work, he got less sleep, and he scarcely had any time left to himself.
However, this caribou had a lover.
She had beautiful long hair and eyes that seemed to carry a certain sorrow.
His lover said this.
"For being able to understand people's pain, you're a very kind person.
But that's also why you wound yourself so deeply.
Even if you were to quit your job, I wouldn't change a bit.
Let us just be together like we always have been."
The caribou's life was nothing but distress.
But in the time he spent with his lover, he felt as if he was saved from all of it.
With her, the caribou was happy.
Then, one morning.
The caribou was running down the street in a hurry.
Because he had been pushing himself every day, he had slept in particularly late.
And there was a very important meeting today.
If he was to get there before it began, he had little time to waste.
The caribou noticed it too late, as nearly everything had already flown out of his bag.
He was in such a hurry, he hadn't even noticed that he never closed his briefcase!
The caribou's important papers scattered on the ground.
The caribou stood completely still, stunned.
Even if he hurried to gather his documents and took off again, he still might not make it to the meeting.
Yet he was still as a stone, and did not move a muscle.
"What on earth should I do...?"
The caribou's mind was a blank.
"Hello! You look troubled, hm?"
Just then, a strange chicken came to the scene.
He held his plump belly and spoke to the caribou cheerfully.
"Need a hand?"
The caribou grew ashamed of the documents strewn at his feet.
"You appear to be burdened with great unhappiness."
The chicken spoke to the silent caribou as he collected his documents.
"You know, though, I could take away your unhappiness."
It was an intriguing proposal. The caribou found his interest slightly piqued.
The chicken pointed to the two horns on the caribou's head.
"So long as you have those horns, you will be sorrowful.
That is to say, they are the source of your discontent."
"Unhappiness is fear. As if you were walking a tightrope over a deep valley.
Make a single misstep, and you head to the bottom headfirst.
What's more, you can no longer return to where you once were.
You're forced onto a path of severe difficulty.
You have felt fear."
"Unhappiness is agony. As if you were being crushed by a giant boulder.
Even when you try to wriggle free, your body is ruined, and pain courses through you.
Gradually, you find yourself unable to even breathe.
All that's left in your mind is pain and anguish.
You have felt agony."
"Unhappiness is grief. As if you were locked all alone in a tiny cage.
Nothing to stimulate you, struggling through identical days.
No friends, and not even any enemies. Always just alone.
You have felt grief."
"No person wants to feel these discontents.
They wish to live the happiest life they can. Isn't that right?
It's not a good thing to be unhappy."
"But think on this.
Who is it that creates this unhappiness?
Some will say, why, the source will vary. But unquestionably, it is you yourself who feels unhappy.
So couldn't we say, at least in a way, it is you yourself that makes unhappiness?"
"There are many people not so blessed as you.
You would likely look at them and think them unhappy.
However, they live their lives as they feel them, not as you do.
What you see as discontent, they do not see that way at all, but merely a part of their life.
It is because you feel you are unhappy that unhappiness comes forth."
The caribou thought on many things.
The happy and unhappy things he had experienced in all his days.
The documents scattered at his feet, and the important meeting for which he was surely late.
Fear, agony, grief.
The caribou's eyes gazed afar.
"So it is best that I remove your horns.
In doing so, I will remove the discontent from your mind.
And once you no longer feel unhappy, you will live forever happy.
Nothing will bother you. You will be free to go anywhere."
"Anywhere at all."
After that, the caribou was cheerful, and seemed like a changed man.
He no longer worried about every little thing, and got much more sleep.
He had put plastic horns on his head instead.
The caribou felt truly refreshed.
He thought the suffering he felt in the past had to be a lie, that in truth, it had only been a bad dream.
He was relieved of several duties at his job, but the caribou did not care in the least.
"I'm truly glad I got my horns removed."
A certain day afterward, the caribou returned from work and went out with his lover to a restaurant.
The two talked idly as always.
The caribou had come to talk much more when he was with others.
About things at work, his hobbies, and other amusing stories.
His lover listened to the caribou like always, quiet as she'd always been.
She barely even opened her mouth.
"We shouldn't... be together anymore."
The caribou was shocked at this sudden comment.
After all, she was not the kind to joke around.
"What're you talking about? Why would..."
"I don't know, either."
Tears spilled from her eyes.
"But you've changed somehow.
You can't tell my pain anymore."
Her voice was quiet, but her words were packed with feeling.
She got out of her seat, and before the caribou could say a word to stop her, left the restaurant.
The caribou was dazed.
The caribou thought on many things, as he felt he had done before.
The days he'd lived, the time he'd spent with his lover.
Was there something about me that displeased her? Or was it she who had changed?
Unable to come up with an answer, for a time, the caribou simply stared at the door she had gone out of.
And then he said:
The caribou downed the coffee he had on the table.
"These things happen. Sometimes you just get dumped, and that's that.
I shouldn't stress myself thinking about it."
The caribou was a very positive thinker.
Some time later, the caribou left his seat as well.
He took his cellphone out of his pocket and made a call to somewhere.
A woman answered.
"Hey, it's been a while. You free today?"
The caribou left the restaurant behind.
And he was happy.
I got myself drawing at my parents' home in Tokushima, and it ended up being 36 pages.
It was my first time doing something like a storybook, and it was pretty fun.
I only wanted to do a very straightforward kind of thing, so there's only three characters.