I have a stalker here in Okinawa: my relative. He’s two decades older than me, and was born with down syndrome. When I first started spending significant time here, I thought he was nice, and I considered him a good friend. He helped me adjust to being in a new country and culture. He helped me set up my Okinawan cellphone, would cook for me, introduce me to people, and was generally helpful. I wanted to be nice to him since he’s my relative, and because I needed friends being in a new country, and also due to his disability.
After a while though, things began heading really down hill. He would call me a lot, and was coming over to my apartment several times every day – 6:00 am, 8:00 am, 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm. Worse, he would take things from my apartment (without asking) over to his house, and he would bring things from his house over to my apartment. My apartment doubles as my office, and I would have trouble concentrating with him coming over and changing things so frequently. Not to mention I got really tired of him coming over and ringing the doorbell incessantly at six a.m. every morning. So I started ignoring him and not opening the door. This caused some problems, since occasionally when other people came to the door, I would mistakenly assume it was the stalker, and not answer, only to meet up with them later and have them mention that they stopped by.
For those of you unaware, I live in Hawaii, though I often travel for work to Okinawa, so much so that I have my own apartment here in my ancestral village of Nakagusuku. Last year the village made me an official cultural ambassador for them as part of a cross-cultural training program specifically for overseas descendants of the village. Being a yonsei (fourth generation descendant) from Okinawa, I still have a lot of relatives here. In fact, I’m related to much of the village.
So one day I was talking with my aunt, the stalkers mom, and we agreed that she would nicely ask him to stop coming over to my apartment so much. A few hours later, I was heading out to eisaa (Okinawan folk dance) practice, when I found the tires on my bike had been punctured. This was a big deal, since my bike is my main form of transportation in the village, and the bike shop is all the way in the next town.
I realized that the stalker had very likely been the culprit, and was about to tell my aunt and uncle, but to my surprise, they had already concluded it was him. Apparently he had done things like this before to other people.
The next day my aunt drove me to the bike shop to get my tires fixed. And that night, the stalker once again punctured my brand new tires.
In addition to the tire vandalism, he had also turned off the boiler to my apartment on several different occasions.
And he stares at me. A lot. Before I just thought of it as harmless, but now it seems much creepier and possibly even dangerous.
Eventually I yelled at him and told him that I have hidden cameras installed on my apartment, and that the next time he comes here I’m calling the police. He hasn’t been back to my apartment since, though he still tries to connect with me elsewhere around the village. I do my best to avoid him.
This has been one of the worst parts of my experience in Okinawa so far. It has had a huge impact on my lifestyle while I’m in Okinawa, since I now purposely will go out of my way to avoid him, and thus has significantly minimized my interactions with my aunt and uncle, who I previously spent a lot of time with. Thus, Okinawa has gotten much more lonesome for me.
Nevertheless, I think cutting him out of my life was the right thing to do. Prior to him puncturing my tires, I thought of him as a nice, if misunderstood, relative. Now, though, I just think of him as a creepy old stalker. I don’t care if we’re related or not – I’m not afraid to cut off toxic people. It’s not that I’m even mad at him anymore, I just don’t think it’s healthy for either of us for him to be around me. He has an unhealthy obsession for me to the point where he steals my things, and tries to manipulate and control me, and there’s nothing good that could possibly come out of me renewing my friendship with him.
More on the stalker, and my other experiences in Okinawa, coming later.
Rob Kajiwara is a Ryukyuan, Nahua – Hawaiian composer, writer, visual artist, baseball player, and human rights activist. www.RobKajiwara.com