I could not imagine Tokyo being this quiet. It has been Golden Week, the longish Japanese spring holiday, and with traveling out of the question and shops and parks closed, people seem to have been quietly staying at home; streets almost empty and only a few trucks on the nearby highway. I woke up early hearing birds singing, and in absence of concrete trucks idling close to our apartment from early morning, I heard new sounds instead – I never knew the air conditioning unit of the building next door was so loud, and the beeping of the traffic lights never reached our bed before. And the birds have never been singing so beautifully.

The quiet solitude was only disturbed by the city’s emergency system’s loudspeakers. Twice a day they reminded us about the Corona virus, that we should stay at home and be careful. As if anyone could forget. On top of that, the other night we woke up by the same emergency system warning about an earthquake, and our phones started screaming at us, urging us to prepare for strong shaking. It is difficult not to repeat myself so I do not even try; this sense of unreality, of a world indefinitely changed to fear – time and time again I feel like we are living in a zombie movie. But there is beauty to be found even in this – the voice on the loudspeaker has a gentle voice, speaking polite Japanese. 地震です。地震です。It is an earthquake.

We try live with a positive happy image, my wife and I. We try to stay thankful for the beauty that we can find, whether it is in our dreams of the future, in the shape of my wife’s stomach and the magic of a new life, in the faint purple flowers we saw on our early morning walk by the river, or in the past.

A sketch in progress, by my wife

Today our quest for beauty meant looking at photos of our life together, reliving the mysterious existence we have been sharing since we met two and a half years ago. My wife, finally moving into the space of being on maternity leave, took out her watercolors and while I was playing with a photo of us on the iPad, my wife was playing with the same photo in her sketchbook. From the loudspeaker (ours, not the city’s) ukulele music. In our faces a big smile. And in my wife’s stomach a happily kicking baby.

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