字 the Kanji Kid

the Kanji Kid

A collection of my translations~ and other things.


Run, Melos -- Dazai Osamu

Melos was in a rage. He decided he had to erradicate that king who used his power to commit atrocities.

Melos knew not of politics. Melos was a shepherd from the villages. He had lived his life blowing on his flute and playing with the sheep. But he was more sensitive to evil than anyone.

At day break Melos departed his village, crossing fields and mountains, to arrive at the city of Syracuse 10 leagues away.

Melos had neither a father nor a mother. He had no wife. He was living together with his shy, sixteen year old sister. That sister had recently accepted a certain conscientious shepherd of the village to be her husband. The wedding ceremony was soon. For that reason Melos had com to the faraway town, in order to buy clothing and food for the celebratory feast.

First, he bought all the things he needed, and then he wandered around the main streets of the capital.

Melos had a childhood friend. His name was Selinuntius and he was currently working as a stonemason in Syracuse. Melos planned to call on that friend. They hadn't met in a while so he was looking forward to the visit.

As he was walking he looked suspiciously at the state of the city. It was dead queit. The sun had already set, so there was nothing unusual about the city being dark, but for whatever reason, not just because it was night, the whole place seemed unusually desolate.

Even the carefree Melos began to feel uneasy. He grabbed a young citizen who was walking on the road and qustioned him: Has something happened? Two years ago when I came to this city, even at night everybody was singing songs, and the city was certain to be lively.

The young man shook his head and did not answer.

After he walked for a while Melos me an old man, and this time questioned him with a stronger tone of voice.

The old man did not answer. Melos placed both hands on his body and shook him, asking again. The old man looked at his surroundings hesitantly then responded a little in a low voice.

"The king kills people."

"Why does he kill them?"

"It's said he has a wicked heart, but I don't think it's possible for a person to have as wicked a heart as that."

"Has he killed a lot of people?"

"Yes, first he killed his sister's husband. Then his own successor. Then his sister. Then his sister's child. Then the queen. Then his wise servant Alexis."

"That's shocking. Is he deranged?"

"No, he is not deranged. It is just that he is unable to trust people. Recently he has begun to distrust even the hearts of his own subjects, and for anyone who is living a slightly flashy life he will take hostages. And if he is not obeyed he will put the hostaged on a cross and kill them. Today he has killed six people."

Hearing this, Melos was furious. 'What an astounding king. I cannot let him live.'

Melos was a simple man. Still carrying his shopping on his back he trudged along to the castle. Whn he got there he was immediately captured by the guards on patrol.

He was searched, and since a dagger was found in his pocket it caused a commotion. Melos was brought out before the king.

"What did you intend to do with this small blade? Speak!"

The tyrant Dionysus asked softly, but with authority. The king's complexion was pallid, with deep wrinkles between his brows, as if they had been engraved onto his face.

"I came to free the city from the hands of the tyrant," said Melos calmly.

"Someone like you?" The king smiled with pity. "You're a pathetic man. You have no hope of ever understanding my solitude."

"Don't say that," Melos got angry and retorted. "Doubting people's hearts is a vice to be most ashamed of. Surely a king can go on without doubting the loyalty of his people."

"You people were the ones who taught me in the first place that to doubt others is a justifiable mindset. They cannot be relied upon. Humans are nothing but bundles of self-interest. They must not be believed." The tyrant muttered, having calmed a little, then let out a sigh. "Even I hope for peace."

"Peace for what purpose? To protect your status?" This time it was Melos who smiled with pity. "You kill innocent people. What kind of peace is that?"

"Be silent, commoner." The king quickly lifted his face and replied.

"You can say whatever pure things you like. But I can see through to a person's guts. Even you will cry your apologies when faced with crucifixion, and I shall not listen."

"Ah, you are a shrewd king. I see why you are so smug. However, I came here prepared to die. I will surely never do such a thing as beg for my life. Just --" Melos spoke, then cast his gaze at his feet and hesitated for a moment.

"Just, if you are prepared to sympathise with me, give me three days until my execution. I want to fulfil my duty as head of my family, for my one and only sister. In three days I will hold a wedding ceremony for her in the village and return here no matter what."

"That's absurd." The king laughed deeply in his hoarse voice. "You tell some preposterous lies. Do you mean to say that a small bird will return home once released?"

"That's right. I will return." Melos asserted desperately. "I keep my promises. Please allow me just three days. My sister is waiting for me to come home. If you really cannot believe me, then very well. In this city there is a stonemason by the name of Selinuntius. He is my friend, second to none. I shall leave him with you as a hostage. If I flee, and have not returned here by sunset on the third day, please hang that friend. Please, let us do things like this."

Hearing this, the king chuckled sadistically. 'This man says some impertinent things, but it is obvious he will not return here. Pretending to be deceived by this lie, and letting him go, would be entertaining. And the sensation of killing that man, who is but a sacrifice, would be a pleasant one.'

'It is because people are like this that they are not to be trusted. I shall wear a grieved look and send the substitute to be crucified. It will be sure to show those so called upright citizens of the world, what is what.'

"I will hear your pleas. Call that substitute forth. Come before sunset on the third day. If you are late I will kill that man. And you can come a little late. I will forever pardon you of your sin."

"What, what are you saying!"

"Haha. If you value your life, show up late. I know what you really feel."

Melos felt frustrated, and stomped his foot. He didn't feel like saying anything.

During the night his childhood friend Selinuntius was called to the imperial castle. So the two good friends met for the first time in two years, in front of the tyrant Dionysus.

Melos told his friend the whole situation. Selinuntius listened wordlessly, then hugged Melos tightly. The relationship between the friends was that good. Selinuntius was detained. Melos departed immediately. It was an early summer night, and the sky was full of stars.

Melos travelled ten leagues that night in a hurry, and arrived at the village by the morning of the next day. The sun was already high in the sky and the people of the village had started their work in the fields.

Melos' sister was watching over the herd of sheep in place of her brother. She saw her brother's exhausted figure stumbling towards her, and beseiged him with questions.

"This is nothing." Melos forced himself to smile. "I left some business unfinished in the city. I have to go back as soon as possible. Tomorrow, we'll hold your wedding ceremony. The earlier the better."

His sister blushed.

"Are you happy? I bought you some beautiful clothes too-- Come now. Go tell everone in the village that the ceremony is tomorrow."

Melos set off staggering again, returning home to decorate the gods' altars and arranging seats for the banquet. After a short while he collapsed to the floor in a sleep so deep he was hardly breathing. When he awoke it was night. As soon as he was sup he went to visit the house of the groom. There he requested that the wedding be done tomorrow, due to circumstances of his own.

The groom, a shepherd, was shocked and answered that it was not possible, he had not made any preparations yet, could they wait until the grape harvest season?

Melos said that he couldn't wait, zealously requesting again that they do it tomorrow.

The groom was also stubborn. He refused to cooperate. Their argument continued to dawn, until finally Melos was able to calm the groom and talk him into it. The wedding ceremony was to be held at midday.

Around the time when the bride and groom had finished their oaths to the gods, the sky was invaded by black clouds. Bit by bit the rain began to fall, and before long it was pouring as fast as the rolling wheels of a carriage.

The villagers, seated in rows, felt something it was something akin to a bad omen, but their moods still began to build. In the cramped house, enduring the stuffiness, they sang songs and clapped their hands. Even Melos wore a wide smile, and he was able to forget that promise with the king for a little while.

The party went on into the night, becoming wild, and everyone stopped paying attention to the torrential rain outside. Melos wishes he could just stay like this, forever.

He wished he could live his life to the end with these people, but currently, his body was not his own. It was something which would inevitably cease to be.

Melos, spurring himself on, decided to depart.

He still had plenty on time until the sunset of the next day. He would sleep a little and leave right after. By that time the rain would have lessened. And he wanted to linger in this house as long as he was allowed.

Even a man like Melos had unresolved feelings. He approached the bride who was in a daze tonight, seemingly drunk with euphoria.

"Congratulations. I am a little tired so I will be resting. When I wake up I will leave immediately for the city. I have something important to do.

"Even if I am not here, we now have a very thoughtful family head. You will surely not be lonely. The things that this brother of yours hates most, are douting people and telling lies. You know that already. You must not keep any secrets from him. That's what I wanted to tell you. I am an upright man, and I hope to instill in you the same pride as I have."

The bride nodded as if she were dreaming.

Melos patted the groom on the shoulder. "I'm sorry that we were both unprepared. In my house, the only things I can call my treasurs are my sister and my sheep. Other than that I have nothing. But I shall give it all to you. One last thing, please be proud to be the brother of Melos."

The groom rubbed his hands together, embarassed. Melos smiled, bowed to the villagers, and left his place. He crawled into the sheep pen and slept as if he were dead.

When he woke it was early morning of the next day.

Melos jumped up, Oh God, had he overslept? No, it was still fine, if he departed straight away he would still have plenty of time before the promised deadline. Today he would definitely show that king the faithfulness of human beings. And he would go up onto the cross with a smile.

Melos was composed as he prepared himself. It was raining lightly.

And so, Melos set off, running in the rain like an arrow, swinging his arms widely.

Tonight, I will be killed. I am running so that I may be killed. I am running to save the friend who is my substitute. I am running to defeat the cunning and traitorous ways of that king. I have to run. So that I can be killed. I will protect my honor at this young age, and by doing tht protect the honor of my hometown as well.

The young Melos was suffering. A number of times he came close to stopping.

Melos raised his voice, scolding himself while running.

He left the village, crossing fields and passing through forests. By the time he reached the neighbouring village the rain had stopped and the sun was way in the sky. The day was starting to heat up.

Melos wiped the sweat off his face with his fist. It was alright, he had come this far, and he had no lingering regrets in his hometown. His sister and her husband would make a good couple. There was nothing else to concern himself with. He should just go straight to the king's castle. There was no need to rush, either.

He prevented himself from walking leisurely, as was his instinct, and sung a favourite tune of his in a fine voice.

He roamed on for two, three leagues, but when he was about halfway through the total distance he saw the disaster that had been brought on by the rain. His feet stopped.

He gazed at the river in front of him. The water source had flooded from yesterday's downpour, gathered in the muddy flow of the river and broken the bridge in a great rush. The fierce, echoing stream had sent pieces of the broken bridge flying.

Melos stood paralysed, in a daze. He looked around him and called out as loudly as his voice would allow, but every boat had been washed away by the waves without a trace, and there was no sign of the bridge watchman.

The river kept expanding, looking almost like an ocean.

Melos crouched beside the riverbank, crying though he was not often prone to tears. He raised his hands and pleaded to Zeus.

"Ah, suppress it, this rampaging river! Time passes by the second. The sun shows me it is noon already. If the stream does not subside then I cannot go to the castle and that good friend will die for my sake.

As if mocking Melos while he cried out, the muddy river only began jumping more violently. Waves swallowed waves, rolling and building on each other, the time disappearing instant by instant.

Melos readied himself again. There was nothing he could do but swim across. 'O, Gods, you too shall witness this!

'The love, and great strength which will not lose even to this muddy river, I will demonstrate it here and show you.'

Melos jumped into the river wth a splash, and started his desperate struggle with the uncontrollable waves that writhed against him like a hundred giant serpents.

He put all his body's power into his arms, scooping and scooping what little water he could as he was dragged along by the current. Maybe it was because the gods had taken pity on this child of theirs who always threw himself into the world blindly with as much force as possible, they finally dangled some mercy in front of him.

As he was washed along, miraculously, he was able to cling to the trunk of a tree on the opposite shore. He shivered once all over, like a horse, and rushed off again. He could not afford to waste even a second.

The sun was already inclining towards the West. He climbed the mountain path with gasping, wild breaths, and reached the top. As soon as he felt relief, a group of bandits suddenly jumped out in front of him.


"What are you doing? I have to be at the king's castle before sundown. Let me go."

"No no, I cannot let you go. If you put down everything you have on you, then you can go."

"Other than this life of mine I have nothing. Even this singular life, I am about to go give to the king."

"So you want that life, then?"

"I see. You must be here to ambush me, on order of the king."

The bandits started swinging their clubs without saying a word. Melos quickly ducked, and swooping in like a bird, stole the club of the person closest to him.

"Sorry, but this is for justice!" He immediately struck three people in a single fierce blow. As the remaining men recoiled he dashed down the mountain.

He ran down it in one burst, but it was of course hard work, and he had been exposed to the scorching sun from daybreak to the afternoon. Melos felt dizzy a number of times. He would think, "oh no", and pull himself together, but eventually he staggered two or three steps and his knees gave out.

He couldn't stand. He looked up at the heavens and cried in frustration.

Ah, ah, he was the great runner, Melos, who had swum across a muddy river and knocked out three bandits, and he had managed to get this far.

The hero of truth, Melos. Now he lay there pathetic, unable to move for fatigue.

'Your beloved friend who has done nothing but trust you, is going to die. You are an extraordinary liar, you are doing just what the king wants.' He tried to scold himself but his entire body had withered, and his progress was no faster than a caterpillar's.

He slumped over in the field beside the road to rest.

The thought, 'whatever. I give up already', though it didn't suit the hero, ate into his determination and settled into a corner of his heart.

'I worked this hard. I never felt the slightest urge to break my promise. Even the gods witnessed how I used every ounce of strength to get here. I ran until I was unable to move. I am not a disciple of insincerity. Ah, if I could I would cut open my chest and let all lay eyes on my crimson heart. This heart which functions only on the blood of love and honesty.

'But I have at this important time, exhausted all my vitality and resolve. I am a very unfortunate man. Surely, I will be laughed at.

'My home will be laughed at too. I have deceived my friend. Collapsing halfway like this is the same as not having done anything from the start. Ah, I give up. Perhaps this was the fate assigned to me.

'Forgive me, Selinuntius. You always trusted me, and I never deceived you. We really were a pair of good friends. Not once did eithe of us harbour the dark cloud of doubt in our hearts.

'Even now you must be waiting for me unsuspectingly. Ah, you must be waiting. Thank you Selinuntius. Oh, how you trusted me. I can't stand to think of it. The trust between friends is the treasure one should be most proud of in this world.

'I ran, Selinuntius. Not an iota of me ever intended to deceive you. Believe me! I hurried here as fast as I could. I overcame the muddy river. I slipped out of the clutches of bandits. I came running down the mountain.

'Ah, do not ever grant me another wish. Leave me be. I give up. It's my loss. I am such a weakling. Go ahead and laugh. The king whispered to me, "come late", he promised he would kill my substitute and save me, if I should come late.

'I detested that abhorrent king. But now I am doing just as the king said I would.

'I will likely show up late. The king will make assmptions and laugh at me, then let me go without a thought. That would be worse than death. I would forever be a traitor. I would be one of of the most dishonorable men on Earth.

'O, Selinuntius, I will die as well. Let me die with you, no doubt you are the only one who would ever believe me.

'Though, is that not just my self-satisfaction speaking? So, should I rather go on living as a reprobate? I have my house in the village. And my sheep. It's not likely that my sister and her husband would do something like try to chase me out of the village. If I think about it, justice, honesty, love, all are worthless.

'I kill a man, and I can get to live on. Is that not one of the fundamental principles of human society?

'Ah, it's all so inane. I am an ugly traitor. Whatever, I should just do as I please. I give up.'

Melos stretched out his limbs and began to doze.

Suddenly he heard the babbling sound of a creek. He lightly raised his head. He suppressed his breathing and strained his ears.

It seemed there was water flowing at his feet. He stood up falteringly and looked around him. From a crack in a boulder, clear water was flowing out abundantly, with a slight trickling sound.

As if he were being sucked into that spring, Melos knelt down. He scooped up the water with both hands and swallowed a mouthful.

He breathed a long sigh, feeling as if he had been awakened from a dream. He could walk. He should go. Along with the recovery from his body's fatigue, he gained a slight bit of hope.

It was the hope that he could carry out his duty. The hope that he could kill this body and protect his honor.

The setting sun threw a red light onto the leaves of the trees, so their leaves and branches seemed to be glittering. There was still time before sundown.

'There is someone waiting for me. There is someone patiently waiting for me without doubting. I am believed in. It matters not what purpose my life is supposed to serve. As if I could stand to plan my retribution for your death to placate myself. I must respond to your trust. There is only one thing I can do. Run! Melos.'

'There is someone who believes in me. There is someone who believes me. Those demonic whisperings from a moment ago were a dream. A bad dream. Forget about it.

'When every one of your organs is exhausted, those sorts of bad dreams can appear unintentionally. Melos, that is not for you to be ashamed of. Above all you are the hero of truth. Did you not manage to stand and run a second time? Rejoice!

'I can die as a servant of justice. Ah, the sun is sinking. It sinks so quickly. Wait for me, Zeus. I have been an honest man since the day I was born. Please let me die like this, an honest man.'

Pushing past those on the road and leaping by, Melos ran like a black wind.

He ran straight through a group of seats from a drinking party in a field, horrifying the party goers. He sent dogs scattering.

He lept over brooks, running ten time faster than the gradually sinking sun.

The moment he passed quickly by a group of travellers, he caught snatches of a foreboding conversation.

"Right about now that man will be hanging from a cross."

'Ah, that man, it's for the sake of that man, that I am now running like this. I cannot let that man die. Run, Melos, do not be late. Show everyone the power of love and sincerity. Who cares about your appearance.'

At this point, Melos was almost completely naked. He couldn't breathe, and two, three times, blood erupted from his mouth. But he could see it. Far out in front, and small, he could see the tall buildings of the city Syracuse. The buildings were shining with the rays of the evening sun.

"Ah, Sir Melos." He heard a voice, almost a groan, along with the wind.

"Who is it?" Melos asked while running.

"I am Philostratus. I am a disciple of your friend Selinuntius," the young stonemason ran after Melos, shouting. "It is already too late. This is a waste. Please, stop running. You are too late to be of any help to him."

"No, the sun still has not sunk."

"Just now, he has been sentenced to death. Ah, you were too late. I shll articlate my resentment of you! A tiny bit, just a little, if only you had been that much earlier!"

"No, the sun still has not sunk."

Feeling as though his chest were about to tear open, Melos looked only at the evening sun. There was nothing he could do but run.

"Please stop. Please stop running. Right now, your own life is the most important thing. That person believed in you. Even as he was taked to be executed he remained calm. No matter how the King continually ridiculed him he would only answer that 'Melos will come'. He appeared to hold unwavering faith."

"That is why I am running. Because I am believed in. Is it not a question of whether I make it in time or not. It is not even a question of human lives. Somehow I feel I am running for something bigger, something more terrifying than that. So follow me! Philostratus."

"Aah, you are a madman. Fine then, run at full speed. Perhaps it is not too late for you. Run, then."

He didn't have to be told. The sun had not sunk yet. Exerting himself for a last, desperate effort, Melos ran.

Melos' head was empty. He wasn't thinking a single thing. All he knew was that he ran, dragged by some great incomprehensible force.

The sun dipped below the horizon, wavering, and as the very last ray of light was threatening to disappear, Melos burst forth in front of the execution stand like a whirlwind. He had made it in time.

"Wait. You cannot kill that man. Melos has returned. Just as I promised, I have now returned," is what he tried to yell loudly, facing the spectators, but his throat was destroyed and all that came out was a light, husky voice, so that not a single person in the crowd noticed his arrival.

The pillars of the cruciix were already standing, and Selinuntius, bound in ropes, was being hoisted up onto them.

Melos witnessed that, and with his dying strength, as he had done before in that muddy stream, parted and parted the crowd.

"It is I, executioner! I am the one you are supposed to kill. I am Melos. The one who used him as a hostage, me, I am here now!"

He shouted at full strength in that husky voice, finally managing to climb onto the crucifix stand. He clung to the feet of his suspended friend.

The crowd resounded. Bravo. Let him go, they cried out, and Selinuntius' ropes were undone.

"Selinuntius," Melos said, with tears welling up in his eyes.

"Hit me, with all your might, hit my cheek. On the way I had a bad dream. If you do not punch me I will not ever have the right to embrace you. So hit me."

Selinuntius nodded as if he had guessed everything, and Melos' right cheek with such force that the sound echoed around the square. After he hit him, he smiled gently.

"Melos, hit me. Hit my cheek so that it makes the same loud noise as yours. These past three days, just once, I doubted you. For the first time since I was born, I doubted you. If you do not hit me, I cannot embrace you."

Melos his Selinuntius' face with a grunt.

"Thank you, friend," they said in unison, and hugged each other tightly, letting their voices sound as they sobbed.

Their weeping was audible even in the crowd. The tyrant Dionysus watched the two intently, before eventually approaching the them silently. His face reddened, and he spoke.

"Your wishes have been granted. You two have won over my heart. Sincerity is not a baseless delusion. Is there no way, that you could make me a friend of yours? Somehow, could you listen to my wish, I want to be your friend."

The crowd burst out into cheers of joy; "Long live the king, long live the king!"

One young girl came and offered Melos a red coat. Melos was confused.

Selinuntius informed his good friend.

"Melos, you are completely naked. Hurry up and put that coat on, the idea that this young girl, or anyone else here should see your naked body, is mortifying."

The hero blushed profusely.