I would be better off dead.
Oh, pardon me, I’m the head of household of the Yasuri family, Yasuri Nanami. I’m no one of any importance. Despite its status twenty years ago, the Yasuri family that I’m head of is only a shadow of its former self, just like myself.
Should I just say that I want to die? Of course, there’s nobody who would be better off dead. It’s obvious that living is better than dying. That’s what they all say, so I’m sure it’s true. But think about it this way: That’s only a broad and general idea, not necessarily one that applies to everybody or one that applies everywhere.
‘Would I be better off dead? Or would I be worse off dead?’ is a question that should be decided on an individual basis. My brother Shichika would say that life and death isn’t a question of good or bad. That’s how he’s been raised by his predecessor. After all, if he had any values about life and death, it would dull his edge as a sword, a tool for taking life. He hasn’t been taught any of that. Swords are tools for killing, tools for bringing death. They have no sense of right or wrong, and for better or worse, no other purpose. That’s the fate of the Yasuri family, of each head of Kyotouryuu. And Shichika is a natural, too.
Oh? Something about myself, and not Shichika? But I have nothing to say about myself. The more I talk about myself, the less value it would have. Oh, that’s right. Why don’t I talk about this to pass the time?
Why do people live? What purpose are people born for? These are common questions in society. It seems like they would be. Of course, I know little of the world, so I don’t know if they still would be, but everybody used to trouble themselves with those questions.
But in my opinion, those are the wrong questions to ask. Even as a child, I could only shake my head at them. Why do people live? What purpose are people born for? That’s inferring the cause from the effect; it’s reasoning from the conclusion. In other words, it’s an unproductive question. No matter how deep of a reason you have, it won’t change the reality that you are alive. If a duck realizes that it’s a swan, it won’t change biologically, will it? The same idea applies here.
That’s right, no matter what you live for, or whatever you were born for, it won’t change a thing about the fact that you’re alive. Thinking about it is a waste of time. Contemplating about your life might seem optimistic, but it’s actually quite pessimistic. Such wastes should be eliminated, in my opinion.
What’s more important is to think about death. That’s much more optimistic. Thinking about life is thinking about the past and thinking about death is thinking about the future. Should we not think about tomorrow and not yesterday? Why do people die? What purpose do people die for? Pondering over these questions will lead to a fruitful life. People cease to be people when they die. Life leaves their bodies, and the living become the deceased. It’s a transformation, a transfiguration, and a transmogrification. What else would have meaning if not this? What indeed?
That is why we shall ask these questions. Why we shall ask these questions to ourselves. Why do people die? What purpose do people die for? Of course, these questions require some intelligence, and would be difficult for someone like Shichika, but they’re not terribly difficult questions. They’re debates with no answer. If you think you’re right then you’re right, and if you think you’re correct then you’re correct. The right answer should be determined by each individual. Ah, perhaps not each individual, but in this case, each deceased.
At least, there’s no need to rely on the wisdom of ancestors. To give my answers as a point of reference, people die as part of natural law, because living is unnatural. And the purpose that people die for is themselves. The first question aside, the second question might require more explanation. Allow me to explain.
What does it mean to die for yourself? This is a precise meaning of the words, one that might be something that’s exclusive to myself, and I don’t even expect my brother to share it, but living requires more effort than dying. To be frank, it’s tiring. It’s exhausting. Waking up, eating, walking, talking, sleeping… expenditure comes with exhaustion. In comparison, death, or rather being dead, is easy. There’s no expenditure or exhaustion.
Just like the Yasuri family at present. We have been exiled to an uninhabited island for twenty years, doing nothing and feeling nothing, only dying. Not living, but dying. You could say that Shichika and I were born into death. Or would it be more direct to say that we were born from death? Well, no matter you call us, I am myself, Shichika is Shichika, and the Yasuri family is the Yasuri family. Strangers shouldn’t intrude in family matters. There’s no need for outside interference.
How was that? I didn’t have anything to say about myself, and I may have only lined up some nonsense, but please overlook my misconduct as a bit of entertainment.
But even so. If you have the opportunity, why not think of these questions? Why do people die? For what purpose do people die? Why do you die? For what purpose do you die? Would you be better off dead, or would you be worse off dead? It may be of some use. It might paradoxically help you live more optimistically. Despite what I say, these questions may not have comforting answers, but death has accompanied me for a quarter-century as a friend, so I hope you won’t insult it. That is my request as the head of the Yasuri family, Yasuri Nanami.