Then he goes to Momo. However… She isn't there anymore. It turns out that after the trial, the Men in Grey were curious about Momo and headed to the amphitheater. Grey cars surround the amphitheater. "Find where her room is!" "We found it!" They find a small bedroom in the corner of the back door of the amphitheater. "She must have been here!" "She might be hiding." They look for Momo everywhere, throwing the bed and wardrobe, but in vain. "Just continue searching for her! You know how grave the situation is." "You know what's gonna happen if the girl reveals the truth and the adults realize the value of time!" So they look for her once more but do not find her. "She seems to have left for somewhere." "What if she didn't?" "This is a dangerous situation for the headquarters as well." "We must find her." "She might be in the city." So they leave to find for Momo. After they leave with their cars, Beppo arrives at Momo's place. Beppo is very old so he isn't as fast as the cars. "Momo!" He opens the door and sees that the bed and shelf are messily turned over. "I'm too late!" "She got caught!" He then goes to Gigi. "Gigi!" "What are you doing here at this late hour?" "Momo got captured by them!" "By who?" "The Men in Grey!" Beppo tells Gigi about what he saw. He says that after their trial, the dangerous men made a mess in Momo's room and that she wasn't there. He also says that he is certain they took her. But that wasn't true. Momo followed a turtle to some place else. It was as if the turtle saved her in advance, knowing the Men in Grey would come to her. The Men in Grey speculates that someone might be helping Momo. Meanwhile, Momo was still following the turtle. This narrative is like Urashima Taro. The guidance of a turtle. As she follows the turtle, she walks through a metropolis. "Don't tell me we're going through a metropolis…" Strangely, she does not encounter a single agent from the Men in Grey. Once they exit the city, they arrive at a mysterious area. "Where is this place?" For some reason, she cannot go forth no matter how much she walks. Only the turtle is able to advance. "Wait, turtle!" "I'm trying to walk forth but for some reason, I feel like I'm being pulled back." Then the turtle goes back to Momo. It shows his shell. "Don't try to go forward." "Should I not go forth?" "Do the opposite." "You should go back." That's what its shell read. "Amazing." "Go back…?" When she tries to go back, she sees that she advances forward. She was moving the opposite way. "Amazing." So she continues to go forth. The road they are in is actually a mysterious section called the Never Lane. It's a place where only those who know the road can go forward. The more you try to go forward, the more you can't. The more you try to go back, the more you go forward. After they pass that strange section they see a time guardian. His name is Master Hora. "I'm Master Hora." "Master Hora?" "Who… are you?" "I am" "the keeper of time." So he keeps time. The keeper of time. The keeper of time! The turtle was in charge of guiding Momo. "Do you know what time is?" "Time?" Momo says she doesn't know. "I see." "Let me give you a riddle." And the battle of riddles begin. "There are three brothers." "The eldest one" "is on his way." "The second one" "already left this place." "Only the youngest" "remains here." "Do you know what these brothers are?" "No." "What are they?" "The eldest turns into the second brother." "It's even more confusing." "The eldest brother who turns into the second brother?" "You can only have the third brother if the eldest turns into the second brother." "I really don't get it." "You can have the third brother if the first turns into the second brother?" "What does that mean?" "Do you get it?" "What did he say earlier again?" "The time is…" "The first brother is on his way, the second brother already left," "and only the third brother remains here." "The eldest turns into the second brother so the third brother is here!" "That's it. It's the future, past, and present!" "Correct!" "I got one point!" "That's correct." The first brother, who is on his way, represents the future. The second brother, who already left, represents the past. The third brother, the only one remaining, represents the present. That was the answer. "You can now come with me." Then Master Hora brings Momo to the root of time. "The root of time…!" "It's blinding…!" She sees a dome-like ceiling made up of gold, spread widely like the sky. Beneath that is a round, dark lake that reflects everything like a mirror. It was a very transparent space where there is a pillar of light from the round ceiling that shines upon the black mirror. There is also something slowly swaying inside the pillar of light. It's a pendulum. The pendulum is swaying slowly. It is swaying in a slow speed almost as if it would touch the mirror-like lake. So there is a long pendulum from the bright, golden ceiling that is slowly swinging. As the pendulum slowly brushes across the lake, a beautiful budding flower rises above the surface. And a flower blooms from it. A flower never seen before and beautiful as a miracle graciously blooms from the lake beneath when the pendulum returns to the starting point. "How beautiful. What is that?" As Momo is admiring the flower, the pendulum heads for the other direction again. As it passes, the flowers wither this time. Momo feels sad seeing them wither. But then, another bud grows from the other side. And a new beautiful flower she never saw before blooms. It later withers as well and Momo feels sad. But another flower blooms on the opposite side again. The flower, which she has never seen before, withers later. "This is the root of time." "The root of time!" "The root of time…" "I didn't know time is this beautiful and noble." "I distribute this to everyone." "You distribute it?" "This isn't the time of all humanity." "This is your time." "This beautiful and noble time is equivalent to life." "It's up to the person on how to use their time." "All I can do is provide them the time." "I now see how beautiful and precious it is." "Master Hora, may I tell this to my friends?" "When the words to express it grow within you." "When they grow within me?" "Well, I guess it's true I can't explain it right now." "How long do you think it will take?" "You must wait." Then strangely, Momo felt sleepy. "I feel sleepy…" "Then sleep." The time flower of Master Hora. No one knows how much time passed after that. Momo, who was deep asleep, wakes up and finds herself in the amphitheater. "I'm back to where I was." But Momo remembers everything clearly. She met Master Hora and saw the time flower. "That's right. Time is very precious and valuable." "We are all provided equal time." "I was curious about Master Hora, so I asked him a question." "Are you a death keeper?" "Are you Death?" "He said that he does not rule death." "But he said that if we understood what time is, we wouldn't be this afraid of death." "Death isn't something to fear" "only if you understand what time is!" Momo remembers a lot of things that happened. She wants to tell the people what she and Master Hora talked about. But no one was in the amphitheater. Perhaps they were all exhausted due to the protest the previous day. Momo decides to wait for them until the next day. Despite that, the children, Beppo, and Gigi who used to visit her, did not come. Even Beppo and Gigi, who always came to her, did not show up. Not the children either. Something's strange. Something is really strange. Then suddenly… "The turtle!" That same turtle appears. "You were asleep for a very long time." "A long time?" "Not just a day?" "I thought I was asleep for a day only." "It wasn't just a day." "Then how long?" "Until the words grow up in your mind." "How long was I asleep?" "A year." "A year?" "I was asleep here for a whole year?" "Snorlax…" "A person who sleeps for a whole year. That's me." "I'm no longer sleepy." "I've regained all my energy…" Momo is about to head back to that place when she finds a letter. "Oh, it's a letter!" "Is this from a year ago?" It turns out that it is from Gigi. "Momo, where are you?" "I'm worried. Once you're back, please visit me." "I'll treat you a meal." "If you have questions, go to Nino's pub." Yes, there was that pub that Gigi used to go to often. It's Nino's place which worked quick and busy after being influenced by the Men in Grey. Momo thinks that she might be able to hear everything from Nino, who is a kind person. Holding the letter from a year ago, Momo heads to Nino's pub. "There must be something in Nino's place!" "Nino might be busy but he would listen to me!" However, she finds out the pub is gone. "Huh?" Nino's Fastfood. "Nino's Fastfood?" "That pub turned into a fastfood restaurant!" "That place with a long line of people is Nino's place?!" It looked very busy. There was a long line of customers for dining and takeout and they were feeling impatient. They are busy businessmen who are using their spare time to grab food. "I don't have much time. Hurry!" There are sandwiches and hamburgers in the menu. The workers hurriedly work to make the order. Everyone's busy working as if they are carried away by something. Momo feels perplexed at how busy the store is. Nino appears from the corner of the store when she calls for him. "How can I help you? I am very busy right now…" "Wait, it's Momo! Where have you been?" "Oh, one burger?" "Just a minute, Momo. I'm very busy." "Is the sandwich not ready yet? You want a cheeseburger? It's coming!" He looks very busy. "Nino, what is happening to the village?" "I don't know but my pub changed liked this!" "One coke and shake here, please!" "Nino, tell me!" "What happened to Gigi and Beppo?" "Gigi?" "He became very successful!" Nino says that Gigi changed a lot. "What do you mean?" "There was an article about a great speaker who guides tourists in the amphitheater." "After that, he became a superstar appearing in radios and TV shows." "He became so busy that he flies in planes to go to the other places." "He's now a superstar who appears on live broadcasts and other TV shows!" "Here is your shake!" "Your burger!" "Then Gigi isn't here anymore?" "Not in the village… I don't know! You know that huge mansion?" "He lives in the mansion with a swimming pool located on the top of the hill where famous celebrities live." "Here's your shake!" "How about Beppo?" "Well, Beppo…" "What happened to Beppo?" "Well…" "He went to the police to report that you're missing." "But somehow he got locked up for seeming suspicious." "Then later he was sent to the hospital." "I don't know what happened after but what a pity!" "Here are your cheeseburger and shake!" "I'm sorry, but I really am busy right now!" "Just one more thing. Where are the children?" "The children?" "The adults no longer have the time for their children" "so they gathered money and created this child depot" "where all the children are now." "What?" "I'm so sorry, but I'm in a real rush right now." "Here's your order!" "Fastfood restaurants are so busy and scary…" "What does he mean by child depot?" Momo then heads to that place. She sees the children there. "It's Momo! What are you doing here?" "Why are you here?" "Everyone lives in this place." "What do you do inside?" "We just… study for our future and play games… "But we can only play games that are permitted, not the ones we like." "They say it's not good for our future." "That's what we do." "Really?" "Is it fun?" "No, but it's important for our future apparently." It turns out that the children, whose expressions darkened, can only do things that the grown ups allow them to do. Gigi, Beppo, and the children. They all changed. And also Gigi is said to be a superstar, he simply had more schedules to follow. He was confused as he turned into a celebrity after an article about him. The next thing he knew was that he got busy. He had three managers that he had to follow around. But he ran out of stories to tell. As he continued to repeat the same stories everyday he no longer feels that he has the gift of an entertainer. There was a reason why Gigi, a great speaker and liar, was able to become very close with Momo. His stories were only for Momo. Gigi used to make up stories and lie about historical remains to tourists. When he asked Momo what story she wanted to hear, she would always say "Well…" "I want a story about a princess." "Then let me tell you a story about a princess named Momo." "Gigi is the prince who will save her." He made up stories only for the two of them. He really treasured the times he would tell stories specially for Momo. But he no longer had ideas left now that he's busy. When he ran out of ideas, he ends up telling the people about the stories he had told only for Momo. He used them for his career. Having told all the stories he had, he realizes that he is now empty. He doesn't want to tell more stories nor can he think of a new one. "What's happening to me?" He then realizes how exhausted he is. "That's it." He decides to go find Momo when the phone suddenly rings. "Don't do anything foolish." "Who are you!" "It's the Timesavings Bank." "You must have been happy that you're busy these days." "What are you talking about!" "I have no reasons to talk to you." "No, we're just glad that you're cooperating with us." "What do you mean?" "All I'm doing is to use my talent to work." "You wish you could see it that way." "But it was we who made the article about you" "and supported you to go on radios, TV shows, and other media." "So we're quite deeply related." "What are you talking about?" "Stop saying nonsense. This all happened because of my gift." "I see." "You'd feel very happy to think that your gift is what brought you success" "but unfortunately, that's not true." "Do you understand, Gigi?" "By chance…" "If you're thinking of helping Momo, your success will no longer persist." "You should act like a grown up if you want to continue to be a successful celebrity." "You always wanted to be a superstar, didn't you?" "Everyone looks up to you. You're doing great in all areas, Gigi." "This is what you've been dreaming of." "You live in a luxurious mansion and hear about new businesses from your managers." "Aren't you glad that such life is given to you?" "Do you want to give all that up just to help Momo?" "You wouldn't wanna help her." "Then, goodbye." "I've always wanted to be a celebrity." "I wanted people to listen and enjoy my stories." "But I wanna help Momo." After several days, Gigi goes onstage without having organized his thoughts. "I wanna help Momo. My talent is not what brought me success." "Something has changed. My tempo is worse and I make slips of the tongue." "But everybody likes this, saying that it's the new trend." "I'm getting busier each day." Gigi feels tormented. Beppo also feels tormented. Beppo went to the police in order to save Momo. But the policemen did not have much time. "We're running out of time. Explain quickly!" "Please listen carefully, this is a serious matter." "We don't have time for that!" "There are a lot of cases in this village that we have to solve!" "Performance is also important for us policemen. So hurry up and explain!" "We can no longer spend too much time on such trivial cases." "Listen to me. A girl named Momo was kidnapped." "Who is Momo? What's he surname?" "She doesn't have a surname. She's just Momo." "We can't find for her without her surname. What's your name?" "Beppo?" "What's your surname?" "Street Sweeper Beppo." "Is Street Sweeper your last name?" "You hung out with someone who also doesn't have a proper name?" "Then this isn't important!" "There's no need for us to search where the girl who lived behind that old amphitheater went to." Then their boss came. "What's going on?" "We have a weird person here." "Who is he?" So they talk. "Never mind. He doesn't listen." "Send him somewhere else." Then he got locked in prison without knowing why. "Beppo, you seem to need treatment." "We don't have time!" When he got trapped in prison, an agent from the Men in Grey approached him. "How pitiful of you, Beppo." "You just wanted to help Momo, right? "I understand. But this is what's happening." "You got arrested and should get treatment from the mental hospital." "That's because what you're saying makes no sense." "This is an expected outcome because you're very poor and have no family members." "By the way, we have Momo." It's a lie. "We have her." "Give her back!" "Back? There is this thing called trade in the world of adults." "Why don't you give us your time?" "As the Timesavings Bank, we suggest that you give us 100,000 hours in exchange for Momo." "How do you like it?" "100,000 hours, you mean?" "Alright." "100,000 hours would be fine." "It's nice that you reply right away. See? You can speak fast." "Alright, we'll help you get out of here." "You're giving us 100,000 hours." Afterwards, Beppo began to work as fast as he can unlike his old self, who used to sweep slowly with sincere effort. He changed so much that no one in the village recognized him anymore. Sweeping the streets in a very fast speed was tormenting Beppo. Beppo, Gigi, and the children were all suffering. Just when Momo decides to leave the child depot, a man from the Men in Grey appears. "Long time no see, Momo." "There's something I want to tell you." "What is it?" "We got an innovative opinion that getting time from each person" "might be an ineffective business model." "We've collected time from each individual all along." "But now we're thinking we can collect it as a whole." "Where have you been for a year, Momo?" "We…" "…are very worried about one man." "The keeper of time." "We're finding for him." "You met him, didn't you?" "Master Hora." "You met him, right?" Momo did not answer. "Let us trade." "We'll return the people you love back to who they were." "In exchange, you should guide us to where Master Hora is." "That way, we can get all the time we need directly from the root of time." "You'll be of great help." "I refuse." Momo answers firmly. Momo has always listened to people without going against them. But for the first time, she refuses. "I refuse." "I am not going to help you." Then she runs. "I see." The grey man follows Momo. He rides his car to chase her. "I have to get to him!" She tells the turtle. "Take me to where Master Hora is!" "Finally, I'll know where Master Hora is." He continues to chase her. "Help me, Master Hora!" But the Men in Grey did not know about the Never Lane. "Why can't we go forward?" "What's happening?" "Why are we going back?" Meanwhile, Momo continues her way to Master Hora. He was waiting for her. "I was waiting for you, Momo." "Everyone's turning strange. Beppo and Gigi changed as well." "I see." "Then that gives me no choice." "What do you mean? Is there a way to fight against the Men in Grey?" "Yes." "What is it?" "They have a secret." "The cigars that they smoke" "are made up of the time flower." "It's made up of flower?" "It's a roll made out of the petals of the time flower?" "They take away the people's time flowers." "Once the flower withers into grey, the Men in Grey" "light its petals and smoke it in order to live off of its energy." "I see." "So you have to take their cigars." "The cigars?" Beppo has seen how they would disappear without the cigar. That's what Hora is talking about. "But how?" "I will…" "You will…?" "…fall asleep." "Fall asleep?" "What happens when you fall asleep?" "Time will stop." "The time stops?" So when Master Hora sleeps, the time freezes as well. "What do you mean?" "When the time stops, the time flowers won't provide them energy and they will disappear." "But that would mean time will stop for the other people, too." "That is why…" "…I am going to give you one time flower, Momo." "One flower?" "Then you'll have one hour." "One hour?" "That's quite a tight schedule." "Within that hour, you should go to the Timesavings Bank headquarters." "Close the vault, and make the Men in Grey lose their cigars and disappear." "Lastly, open the vault in order to return the time of all people and return things to the way they were." "Please do so." "Just one hour!" Momo goes back. The Men in Grey notices that the time stopped. Everyone froze as well. The Men in Grey weren't humans but this was not a good situation for them. "Our cigars are in danger. Master Hora fell asleep!" "The time supply stopped!" "Let's go back to the bank!" Momo follows the Men in Grey, knowing that they are headed to the bank. They were all in panic when they arrived. "My cigar!" There were too little cigars left compared to the number of the Men in Grey. The one in the highest position of the bank was yelling. "We should save the cigars since there aren't enough for all of us!" "Yes, sir!" "How can we save them?" "Not all of us are going to survive." "We, the executives, will be prioritized for the cigars. You can't smoke them!" "You shall not smoke them!" Then they disappear. "We're in danger. Think of something!" "The time froze…" "What was that?" "There was a loud thud!" "What was that?" "The vault is closed!" "Who is it?" It was Momo. "You!" "Open the vault!" "I will not open the vault!" "We don't have much cigars left!" "Open the vault!" There were only six of them left. Only six of the Men in Grey. XYQ, BLW, and the others disappeared, leaving only the six executives. "What is that in your hand?" She is holding a time flower. "It's the time flower! We should get it!" "There are only the two of us left!" "That's mine!" "No, my cigar!" Now, only one remains. "Please, give me the flower." He's become paralyzed. "I… I don't have much time!" "Please!" "Give me time!" "So…" "Did the plan work?" Inside the vault, she finds a lot of time flowers. "I have to return them!" She opens the vault. "Am I doing this right?" "I took them out from the vault but is this how you do it?" The time flowers return to everyone. Then the turtle comes. "Mission complete." Everyone gains their consciousness. "What just happened?" "Why did my pub turn into a fastfood restaurant?" "What has happened?" Beppo also returns to his former self. "Why was I sweeping in a hurry?" "Did my 100,000 hours come back?" "I somehow feel free." Everyone returns to their own pace as if the evil spirits left their bodies. Momo returns to the amphitheater. "Is everyone alright? Did I do it the right away?" "It's Momo!" "Momo is back!" Gigi came as well. "Momo, I'm sorry!" Beppo tells her, "Momo, thank you!" Momo says, "Everyone's alright!" And Master Hora wakes up. "One problem solved!" That was the story of the book, Momo. There's a short epilogue. It is a story of Michael Ende and it's quite unique. This story is actually not from his idea. He says he heard it from someone else. Was a unique epilogue, right? The person apparently said this. "I said it like it's an old story, but I can also tell it as if it can happen in the future." "Goodbye." That's how it ends. "This is not just a story from the past. It can happen in the future." "This is also a whirlpool of time." "Don't you feel threatened by the Men in Grey?" That's the aphorism of the story. Isn't it interesting? By the way, nowhere in the book was it mentioned that the turtle's shell read "Mission complete". I was just hyped up. I feel sorry for the turtle for making that up. Aside from that, I referred to the book. How was it? The fact that the power to listen changes a person can be a message for the adults. Beppo, a sincere street sweeper, already knew the answer from the beginning. He knew that time includes the future and the past. Gigi, a young man, looked up to his future. Meanwhile, Beppo said that each sweep is very important and he knew each moment counts. Momo was an innocent girl without concerns. Beppo knew what was most valuable. Gigi had a strong hope for the future. Perhaps they all wanted to convey us a message. The younger generations like Gigi must have their own dreams, too. They want to achieve and become what they wanna be. That's why they cannot stand their current self. On the other hand, you might be someone like Beppo if you have done various things but do not feel certain and if you realize the value of each moment but do not have enough time. I'm sure everyone has parts they can relate to in the book. I was able to learn of many people's thoughts as well. I was able to relate to Gigi's mind. I try to do lectures and make videos everyday. I do lectures, feeling grateful that I got popular as a YouTuber. But the next thing I know is that I am too busy. I think about what lecture to do next. I looked back at myself, who tried to reform the way I work, and thought about whether I have more time than before. But whatever the differences, I am certain that all of humanity must know that each day, each moment, and each second is valuable. It is important whether each day is happy for those who want to achieve something, those who already achieved their dreams, and those who are regretting something. Why? Money and materials are not the most valuable things. Remember how scary Bibi Girl was? "I want to own many more things!" "There are a wide variety of accessories! Collect them!" Although materials are tempting, what's most valuable is time. To Momo, the time she spent with Beppo and Gigi was most important. As the pendulum swings, it does not bloom the same kind of flower. Each moment passes by beautifully and nobly. Once you think the flower is beautiful, it withers. The past time does not come back. This novel tells us we should value each second in life! The time you spent reading this book would definitely be valuable. Then, goodbye! A web community, PROGRESS. [Atsuhiko Nakata's online community, 3,700 members, 980 yen a month]
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