Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Game of Acorns

This is a sad story.

One early evening in the fall of 2010, I was walking to the apartment of two former students, siblings, a brother and a sister, that I used to tutor. I could have taken a bus, but I discovered that a 20-minute uphill walk would get me there faster, and the walk was pleasant: a straight line with little human or vehicular traffic, save for the occasional food delivery guys on their motorbikes zipping up and down the sidewalk's bicycle lane. The air was cool as the sun was going down, and the sidewalk abutted Jungang Park (it probably still does). It being fall, the foliage was invigorating, yet, only with the advantage of hindsight, foreboding.

It is a very rare thing to see a squirrel in Korea. I think I've seen approximately four during my fifteen years here. Even rarer is spotting a chipmunk. Wikipedia informs me that all species of chipmunk, with the exception of the Siberian chipmunk, exist in North America. But I know what I saw.

Running in pace with my stride along the shoulder-high stone ledge that borders the park's south-east side was a goddamn chipmunk.

How happy that made me! When I arrived at my students' home, I couldn't contain my jubilation, and, before the lesson, I tried to explain to them how wonderful it was to see a chipmunk in Korea. The Korean word for chipmunk, however, is the same as squirrel, because both are from the family Sciuridae. Thankfully, with my then-new iPhone 3GS, I was able to search Google for chipmunk images to show my pupils. They weren't exactly awed, but they were attentive, which I think succinctly sums up my on-and-off-again career as an English teacher.

The class ended, as everything must, and I made my way back home. The air was cool, the downhill walk easier and more relaxing knowing that the day was near its finish line.

When I was about halfway home, I saw a tiny little rodent body strewn on the bicycle path. Blood and viscera. Unmistakably, it was my chipmunk friend, who had undoubtedly been run over by a motorbike.

Talk about giveth and taketh away, man.

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