Gina arrived before the sun rose over Tokyo on August 29, 1960, but she was already too late. A line of people stretched around three corners of the city block. Her jaw dropped a little as a small groan escaped it and sneaked its way into the ear of a little child clinging to her arm.
She didn’t hear her daughter at first, her attention wrapped in a cloak of disappointment at the possibility of another opportunity missed.
“Mama?” the child asked, a little louder, a little sadder.
Gina turned away from the file of sleepy-eyed parents that was still steadily growing. It was to be a long walk home on their fourth failed attempt. But when she looked down at her arm, the child was gone. She wheeled around to see her standing at the end of the line. On her face was a pleading expression.
“Oh, mama,” she whispered tearfully, “We must try! I’m the only one who doesn’t have one yet... and it helps me to learn about other cultures too...”
Her heart sank as she beheld her poor child, how could she say no again? Bending down, she framed the girl’s face and forced a smile.
“Lucky for us, I have a few sardines wrapped up in my bag. Today, we will stand in this line as long as it takes to buy one!”
An elderly man standing nearby slowly turned towards the now happy and hopeful mother and child.
“Pardon me for overhearing, but this line isn’t to buy, they’ve already sold out. It’s for a lottery ticket for a chance to buy when the next delivery arrives.”
As the revelation sunk in, a teenage girl peddled lithely by on a bicycle, a little black golliwog clinging to her handlebars.
“Dakkochan!” the child screamed.