I want some help clarifying a passage from がばいばあちゃん, specifically in chapter 1, page 13.

The preceding text is about sad events which lead to his father's demise. Then it follows:

切ない話である。しかし! 俺は大人になった時、ちょっと待てよと思った。

After that, the narrator tells of how he asked news of his father's condition when the latter was hospitalised.

I assume the text in italics is addressing the reader. My reading is '[When I was writing about this sad story] I was thinking you should hang on for a bit until I've grown up [because there are happy events afterwards]'. I guess the ~時...まてよ is telling the reader to wait until the narrator has grown up (in the story).

Is this the correct reading? If someone could clarify or correct me, I would appreciate it.


(Source: 「佐賀のがばいばあちゃん」第一章p13, p14)

  • does the story later talks about how he became an adult? Or it's presumed that he became an adult when his father died? May 12 '17 at 9:38
  • No. From beginning to end he is a child. That's why it's confusing. Occasionally, he will interrupt the narrative with something like, 'Nowadays... but back then'. In the あとがき, there is some (brief) reference to his adult life, but I don't think he would be referring to that, since he has wrapped up the story before that?
    – Robert
    May 12 '17 at 9:43
  • I suppose one answer might be a reading like: When I became an adult, [I wanted to tell my younger self,] just a wait a bit [because it gets better], I thought. That's the only reading I can think of that makes sense in context. He is using the past form 思った because he came to this realisation earlier in his adult life.
    – Robert
    May 12 '17 at 9:51
  • 「切ない話である」の直前のコンテクストいただけます?
    – Chocolate
    May 12 '17 at 10:30
  • Ok. The atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima. This is a turning point for his family. Beforehand, his mum and dad get married and live in Hiroshima. But when the war becomes more fierce, they evacuate to Saga, his mum's old hometown, so no one dies from the explosion. When his dad hears the news of the bomb, he goes back to Hiroshima to have a look and says something silly, 'Where is everyone?' The place is devastated. As a result of radiation exposure, he becomes sick and is hospitalised. He is bed-ridden when the narrator is born. Both mum and dad are in their 20's at this point.
    – Robert
    May 12 '17 at 10:41



the writer is reciting a moment when, after he had grown up, while he was reminiscing about or retracing the course of events leading up to his father's death, he stumbled on some detail thitherto unconsidered that might potentially change his perspective on the whole thing, and that made him go, "Hey, waaaaait a second."

Now with this understanding does the following literal translation make more sense?

It's a touching story... However! When I became an adult, I thought, "Wait a sec!"

  • Yeah, it does! The only question is what exactly prompts him to change his perspective. My guess, after reading the end of the chapter, is after he is pushed onto the train heading to Saga, the plan is put in motion for him to live with his grandmother in that town. The result of this is that his life changes and he discovers many interesting things, thanks to 佐賀のがばいばあちゃん。
    – Robert
    May 12 '17 at 11:00
  • Could you reproduce some of the text right after? I'd expect there'd be some explanation on what caused him to stop in his tracks there.
    – goldbrick
    May 12 '17 at 11:37
  • Right after, the text has no bearing on this comment. そして、母ちゃんに聞いた。 「かあちゃん、 とうちゃんって俺が生まれた時はもう入院してた?」... There is a Q&A between a naive narrator (as a little boy) and an exasperated mother, who eventually mumbles something and disappears somewhere. Then it says something about him being a memento of his father and that he has no memory of him, etc. The only part that fits with this standalone comment is the last page of the chapter when he says something about how, after a plan was hatched, being pushed onto the train going to Saga changed his life.
    – Robert
    May 12 '17 at 11:44
  • Hmm... from the information I've got it's unclear to me exactly what made him go "ちょっとまてよ." But I guess it's something (remotely) to do with whether his dad was in hospital when he was born? It doesn't necessarily have to be something that changes his views on the "悲しい話", but something that arouse some question in his mind regarding those events, which prompted him to ask her mom.
    – goldbrick
    May 12 '17 at 12:23
  • 4
    – Chocolate
    May 12 '17 at 13:16

Is this the correct reading?


俺は大人になった時、 when I became an adult,

ちょっとまてよ "wait a sec" (This is an idiomatic phrase/exclamation when the speaker feels something is not correct.)

と思った。 I thought,

  • That's what I thought originally (or something like that), but I rejected it because it didn't seem to make sense in context. 'When I became an adult, wait a sec (something is not quite right), I thought.' That reading suggests he is talking to himself. Also, why would he say 'when I became an adult', since before and after this passage the narrator is a child? Unless it's a (comic?) interruption? Does the ちょっとまてよ mean something like 'oops I made a mistake'? I'm really confused.
    – Robert
    May 12 '17 at 9:35
  • 'But(!) when I have/had grown up I thought "Wait a sec."' I don't know the context but it seems that s/he is questioning it's really a 切ない話である, judging from the only text that's given here.
    – someone
    May 12 '17 at 9:52
  • Ok. But why does he say 'wait a sec'? Is it because (as I suggested above) his life does not remain so sad as he gets older, so he's telling himself to cheer up? There is no clarification in the text following because he goes on to relate another unhappy event in his life.
    – Robert
    May 12 '17 at 9:57
  • Hmm, I can sort of see "Hey wait, it's not the time for me to become an adult yet" fitting the context, but I don't think the sentence could be translated this way... May 12 '17 at 10:03
  • 1
    Oh, I got the context from here tzone.org/~nori/jse301_302/…. He said ちょっと待てよ because when his mother conceived him his father had already been hospitalized and on top of it he was not in a private room.... What happened?
    – someone
    May 12 '17 at 14:21

切ない話である。しかし! 俺は大人になった時、ちょっとまてよと思った。


(2)「しかし!」は2つの解釈{かいしゃく} interpretation ができる。

(3)「俺は大人になった時」は本当に筆者{ひっしゃ} narrator が大人{おとな}になった時である。そして、その時、すなわち大人になった時、「ちょっとまてよと思った。」


Edited: I changed my interpretation of 「ちょっと待てよと思った」 after I got the text before and after the phrase.

Though my former interpretation was meaningful and excellent (?), now I would admit and support the interpretation written in the comment by Chocolate to goldbrick's question.


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