She was probably in kindergarten. “It’s a wink. Look, it’s a wink,” said the small girl at the next table, pointing to a shelf. This is what happened at a soba noodle shop I visited at year-end. Her mother, sitting next to the girl, was busy fiddling with her cellphone and gave only a halfhearted reply. “Oh, that’s nice.”

On the shelf was a daruma wish-making doll. Only one eye was painted black. It’s a face we often see, but I had never imagined a wink. It may be the sort of imaginative leap only a kindergartner can make. It’s funny that after I heard it, it now looks that way to me, too.

This occurred on a day that a small worrisome thing happened to me. I left the shop, feeling as if the bearded face had told me, “Don’t worry about it.”

This reminds me of a poem carried in the poetry section of The Yomiuri Shimbun.

“Putting eyes and nose / On an acorn / Having done so / I can’t throw it away / It’s on the table”

It seems drawing a face on an inanimate object will bring it to life in a small way.

Thinking back from a different viewpoint, the task of this column resembles the work of a painter who creates expressions with simple finger movements. For an event that makes the heart dance for joy, this column draws laugh lines at the corners of the eyes, while for sad events it sketches drooping eyebrows, so readers can feel the same lines in their hearts. Let’s hope this year will be one of laugh lines. This column will wholeheartedly draw a “Don’t worry about it” wink, stroke by stroke.

The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s Jan. 1 issue.Speech

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