Chapter 46. Rocco and Dr. Scharbettopauer

“You were chosen. It is your destiny.”
“In the beginning, I didn’t understand what destiny meant. No one should know what would happen to them in the future. I was told that my destiny was already determined. But I don’t understand it. Who decided it? Why me?
That beautiful lady said that she was waiting for me to be born. And she took me to a journey into the outer space. There I knew the word ‘love.’” We animals have the similar feeling, but love that humans have fostered is more complicated and varied. It took me some time to understand it, but I think it expresses very well about humans. It is said that 8 billion people live on the Earth at present, of course including babies, children, and elderly people. There are so many people. Love must be a culture fostered in this varied relationship. I’ve learned that love is the most important thing for anyone, for anytime, and for any occasion. I have Father who I respect and caring Mother, and Kii who I like so much. I have thought that this feeling that I have for my family must be called love. But now I have a different feeling for Luna.
When I first met Luna, I was overwhelmed with feelings I hadn’t known. My heart started to beat fast, and I felt excited, and sometimes I lost myself. I can’t say what I wanted to say. Whatever I do, Luna is always on my mind.
When I meet her, I want to do whatever she likes. I want to see her happy. I feel very gentle somehow. But when it comes to the global crisis, we tend to quarrel.
Luna is always against my going to the outer space. In her tears, she always says “Why do you have to go for the sake of humans? I don’t understand it. It’s humans who have to deal with it.”
I don’t think I can make Luna understood. I, too, want to live with Luna. I don’t want to leave her even for a moment. Since we first met at the Doctor’s house, we have been together and I’d like to forever. Definitely!
But my fate is already determined. When I met that beautiful lady, I was still a mere child, but I decided at that time. I have chosen it by myself. I’d like to stick with it.
Now that X day has drawn near, I have a dream every night. Dream of Father, Mother, Kii, and Luna.
I won’t be able to see them all soon. When I think about that, I feel so sad in the morning even after having a happy dream during the night. I have lot of memories of Doctor, Satchina, my fellow cats, Shimatora, Kumatora, and Torakichi, and friends at school. I also made lot of memories with Ms. Soroban and Shizuko. But after I left the Earth on X day, I won’t be able to make any new memories with everyone. I feel so sad.”
“Wait a moment.” Scharbettopauer, who kept silent, opened his mouth.
“Do you mean that you won’t be able to come back to the Earth?” Rocco didn’t overlook that his eyeballs moved behind the eyelids which were closed. He felt tense.
“Ah, y, yes.”
“Hmm, so that was it. What was awaiting a pitiful philosopher who cannot die was a scenario of humans becoming extinct. The species called humans will disappear, and me, too. It must be a physical inevitability…” He murmured as if he was talking to himself. He reclined his seat of the electric wheelchair about 30 degrees and gave a deep sigh.
The sunlight filtering through a gap of curtains highlighted the face of Dr. Scharbettopauer. His firm profile reminiscent of bronze statue told history and agony.
Rocco didn’t understand what Dr. Scharbettopauer tried to say all of a sudden. But apparently, what Rocco said briefly must have caused him misunderstanding.
“Well, it is already decided that I won’t be able to go back to the Earth. I mean, it’s my destiny.”
I think I have been loved by everyone. I had been living happily with my family. So, I wondered why me?”
“What do you mean?”
“Pardon?”
“Aren’t you afraid of death?”
“Afraid of death?”
“People are afraid of death. We hesitate to face death. We understand that death is a everyday matter, but we tend not to think about our own death. All living things will die someday. We just don’t know when, it might be today, or tomorrow. Still, we cannot imagine ourselves dying. This is something regrettable. It is one of the privileges of humans that being able to think about their own death. Oops, including you.”
“I know what you mean, vaguely. But I feel rather happy to be given immortal life.”
“Immortal life?”
“Yes.”
“What is it?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know! Did you accept such a great responsibility of saving the Earth without knowing the details?”
“I will be able to watch over everyone, if I can save the Earth. And forever.” Dr. Scharbettopauer paused before saying anything. He couldn’t believe how simpleminded he was.
“How should I think about it? This pure unselfish mind is going to stand on the top of eight billion people.” He squeezed out these words and closed his eyes tightly.
Soon, Dr. Scharbettopauer’s eyes were filled with tears. His lean face refused to let tears run, and tears stayed around the eyes of his sculptural face. Rocco looked at the tears and thought that philosopher’s tears wouldn’t run so easily.
Dr. Scharbettopauer took out his hand from the inside pocket and held out to Rocco. Rocco hastily opened his hand and accepted it.