Hotaru no Haka
(Grave of the Fireflies)
|Synopsis - Chapter Four: Welcome Home|
Seita enters his aunt's house. Everything is dark, until his sister runs into the foyer, reflecting light from the other room. Setsuko yells out for her mother, expecting her to be with him. She asks Seita if their mother is still sick, and he says yeah. The aunt follows Setsuko into the room, telling Seita, "Welcome back." She knees beside Setsuko as Seita removes his boots. "How's your mother? Is she still at Kaisei?" Seita, not looking at anything but the floor, barely acknowledges her.
The aunt leads Seita into a closet with his mother's stuff, talking about how lucky they are to have a father in the navy (he gets a truck to help him move). She has laid out futons in a spare room (a music room, apparently, since there is an organ along the wall), so after he quickly checks what's been saved, he goes to that room.
Setsuko is sitting politely on one of the futons, looking at the ring that was in her purse. "Doesn't Mom need her ring?" she says sadly. "Did she give it to me?" Seita closes the door and tells her not to lose the ring. He starts to undress, but then kneels beside his sister. "Mom's. . .," he starts to say. "When Mom's a little better, I'll take you to see her." Seita then tells her it's time for bed.
When everything is dark, and everybody's asleep, Seita returns to the box that he hid behind the bushes. He carries it inside.
A day or so later, Seita returns to the ruins of his hometown/district. Now that the sky is clear, a few more buildings can be seen that weren't destroyed. Seita finds his backyard and digs up the goods that he had stored there when the bombing began. He pulls everything out of the buried pot, and stops and smiles at a tin of fruit drops. He puts them in his pocket, and then puts the rest in the hand cart that he borrowed. He pulls it along for a while, then he finds a broken water main.
Seita parks the cart, takes a drink and then rinses off the sweat and heat. He dries off and notices the candy tin again when he puts the towel back in his pocket. Then he's off again, after trying one of his pickled plums.
He brings everything into the foyer. "Dried bonito, herring, dried potatoes, eggs, and pickled plums," the aunt says, going through Seita's belongings as if they were hers. "And I do believe this is butter. You can't get these for anything nowadays. Soldiers always get the best at times like these." She begins to pick up the food, but then asks Seita about his mother, saying that she would like to take Setsuko to visit her. Seita says nothing. "That bad?!"
Seita, looking at the floor, says, "Mom died while she was still at the school." The aunt, rather upset, asks him why he was hiding it. "I didn't want Setsuko to know."
The aunt gathers up all the food and stands up. "You'd best write your father," she says, then walks deeper into the house. Setsuko comes home just then, followed by the aunt's daughter, dressed in a high school sailor fuku. The girl bought a pair of shoes for Setsuko while they were out.
That night Seita takes a bath with Setsuko at another person's house. Afterwards, they walk outside and are surrounded by fireflies and the sound of bullfrogs. Setsuko chases after a firefly, but misses it. Seita picks one up from a tall blade of grass. He shows it to Setsuko, cupped carefully in his hand. Setsuko takes it and accidentally squashes it. Seita catches another one and holds it out to Setsuko. It flies away before she can grab it.
As they walk home, the air becomes filled with fireflies. They stop to stare at them. Seita tells his sister to close her eyes and say, "Ah," then reaches into his pocket and pulls out some of the fruit drops. He puts one in Setsuko's mouth. She recognizes the taste, and starts dancing around, shouting "Fruit drop," so excitedly that she almost swallows it.
The aunt is doing dishes when they return, having apparently missed dinner. After he and Setsuko walk past, Seita whispers, "That food looked good." He grimaces at his hunger pangs.
On a rainy day, about a week and a half later, Seita is reading a graphic novel as Setsuko draws on and cuts up old newspapers. The aunt walks in and asks Seita if there isn't anything he should be doing, like going to school or going to work. Seita explains that the steelworks he had been working at was bombed, and his school burned down. She asks him if he's written his father yet, and he says that he did that just after they moved in. The aunt wonders about that, since they should have received a reply by then. As she leaves, she tells Setsuko to return the scissors as soon as she's done.