The exam results were to be sent by mail, but it was customary to put up the bulletin board on campus to announce accepted students. There’d be a group of Waseda students who’d give a victory toss in the air to those who passed the exam. Not that I wanted the victory toss, but I decided to go back to the campus to see the result myself. If I did pass, which I had a feeling I did, I’d be a part of the celebration.
Waseda was the second largest university in Japan after Nippon University and had nine departments. Each department accepted 1,000 new students, but the competition rate was one in 13. Due to the school’s popularity, people applied and took the exam to “Hail Mary.” Also, those who aimed for Tokyo or Kyoto University applied for Waseda as the backup school.
I set off to Tokyo again to see the Law Dept. result. Bussines Dept. result was going to be announced the following day. It was early March, and Tokyo was already warming up compared to my hometown that was still buried in snow. There was a crowd in front of the bulletin board, so I had to wait for my turn to get a closer look. It was an extensive list of several-digit numbers, and I looked for mine like the time I checked the lottery number in the newspaper for my father.
I didn’t find my number. The bustle of people cheering on someone tossed up in the air faded away, and I was tossed down to the bottom of despair. I wasn’t welcome there. The only direction to head to was home. I got off the bullet train a couple of hours later, and instead of changing to the local train, I walked to a movie theatre. The home was the only place to return to, yet the last place I wanted to be. The audience was sporadic in the weekday matinee. I have no recollection of the film other than Winona Ryder in a pair of overalls. I sat for the next screening of the same film, still without understanding what it was about.
It was passed at 8 pm when I left the movie theatre. When I called my mother, she said she thought I had taken my life. There had been indeed many youths who had done so in the same situation as mine. She picked me up at the station and took me to a restaurant to eat. I didn’t have to report to her the result, but I told her I wanted to try again next year. She said, ok.