Page 16 - The Way of Beauty - Meidao

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4

in his stomach, Murphy talks about Jennifer's suicide and his subsequent doubts about the purpose of life.

"But how could it have happened?" Murphy continues. "I still can't believe it. Jennifer was one of my better students. She was enthusiastic and always came to class. She was thoughtful, nice, and especially talented."

Yamada replies, "Yes, I remember her from my visit to Erasmus University. She was the pretty, young woman who always stayed behind after my lectures to ask me something. On my last day, she gave me a CD.

Yamada continues fondly, "She had an odd smile. Anyway, the whole student council was listening in that place on the first floor, what did you call it again?"

"Yes, I remember."

Murphy answers, "The Cupola."

"Right, " nods Yamada, "the Cupola. They were listening to Elton John. I made some funny comment about that and, on my last day, I received that particular CD as a gift from her. That was very nice of her. Actually, her smile was rather charming."

Murphy agrees. "Yes, now that you say it, it was a charming smile."

"I can still remember her sitting in class in front of me," says Yamada. "Didn't she have long, slender fingers and... sanpaku ."

Murphy looks at Yamada as if to say, What are you talking about? "Okay Murphy-san, I understand your feelings a bit better now. Please continue with your story."

Murphy leans with both elbows on the low table, his hands supporting his chin. "I remember," he continues, "that during her last class I told them that Einstein calculated that if you could press all the empty space out of a human body, you could put the remaining solid matter on the point of a pin. Then Jennifer responded nonchalantly, 'Isn't life just one big emptiness too? Life is like a balloon. If you pierce it, there'll be a pop and nothing left but one big illusion.' How stupid of me not to realize at the time that her problems were so great, so... The Friday before that, we danced with each other at the anniversary party and..."

Murphy stops, clearly overcome by the emotions he is re-experiencing. He takes out his handkerchief, blows his nose and stammers, "It's maybe even my..."

Yamada tactfully takes over the conversation. "Suicide is all too familiar to me, Murphy-san. Jennifer is very likely a victim of our current society. In Japan too, school psychologists are working overtime. More and more students are having emotional problems. Student life is getting more complicated all the time. As a

Page 16 - The Way of Beauty - Meidao

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