Momo is the title of the book published by a German children’s book writer Michael Ende in 1973. Momo is also a name of the main character. The official title of the book when it was published was <Momo, or the Strange Story of the Time Thieves and the Child Who Brought the Stolen Time Back to People>.
Michael Ende is a German writer. He is famous for fantasy literature for children. His remarkable pieces include 1960’s Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer (English translated title: Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver), 1962’s Jim Knopf und die Wilde 13 (English translated title: Jim Button and the Wild 13), 1973’s Momo, and 1979’s Die unendliche Geschichte: Von A bis Z (English translated title: The Never-ending Story).
In the story, a girl was living in a ruined amphitheater. She was a girl in rags with curly hair and very big, black eyes. She didn’t have any concept of numbers so she didn’t even know her real age. Kind neighbors fixed the amphitheater to make her a cozy room and brought her clothes and bread.
However, people actually received more help from Momo. When they met her, they became pleasant and benevolent. Momo could not do anything at all but knew to listen carefully to others. In this way, Momo was becoming an important person to villagers and they told others in trouble to meet with Momo. When people had conflicts, Momo listened carefully to them about what had happened. Then they could eventually solve their conflicts with their friends and became good friends again.
One day, ‘the Grey Gentlemen’ visited this town. The Grey Gentlemen is a race of paranormal parasites that steal time from humans and use the time to keep themselves alive. They told people that they were wasting their precious time with gardening, taking care of ill parents, and caring for and loving ill people. They persuaded people to go to their“time” bank and save their time by sending their parents to a nursing home, not gardening, and seldom visiting ill people. They added that people must work only. In turn, people had lost their smiles and committed themselves only to working. In reality, their time was not saved but hoarded by the parasites. Their time just disappeared. More precisely speaking, the Grey Gentlemen stole time from people to increase their own.
Momo had lost many friends because of the Grey Gentlemen. However, Momo bravely visited her friends and tried to help them recover their real life. Momo’s actions were a disturbance to the Grey Gentlemen so they tried to eliminate her. Professor Hora, a time manager, sent a turtle Cassiopeia to take Momo. She put a time flower in her hand and touched the door to a room where the stolen time was saved. Then, the door opened and she set all of the time flowers free from the room. The time that had been stolen by the Grey Gentlemen returned to the people. Momo got her friends back and became happy.
Many modern people say ‘I don’t have time.’ They are out of time – time to have meals together, time to share their stories, time to take a walk together, and even time to look back at themselves. They live truly busily day by day. Using every hour, minute and second, our life is well-planned within very finely divided time frames. Even though our well-organized life seems to be tidy, our mind is not happy. Just like the people around Momo, without their time, only worked busily to earn more money or to become an important person, the time that we share with each other with a warm heart is sometimes regarded as waste of time to us.
People are chased by time. They are becoming a cold- and dry-hearted machine. Within such a lifestyle, we seem to gradually forget about sharing happiness and affection.
That’s why Momo is a truly beautiful girl. And we really need her.
Momo is not good at speaking. She is not even a problem solver. But what Momo does is listen carefully to others and make people who share their stories feel comfortable. Through the sharing of their stories with Momo, their problems, such as suffering, grief and loneliness, are solved. That’s why people continuously seek out Momo.
Momo actually knew how to use the time for her and others, truly and beautifully. What Momo regarded the most precious was friends who could spend time together, neighbors who could take care of her, and all of the other people who needed her. Momo was not dragged by the time but she had freedom that she knew to enjoy her time. She also had love of sharing the time with others. It was her utmost happiness that she could coexist all the time.
The way to get back your precious time, taken away by the Grey Gentlemen, is that you yourself become Momo. If a day given to you is filled with freedom, love and happiness like Momo’s, wouldn’t the place where you live right now be paradise? And, you would be silently, listening carefully to someone else’s stories – Without any mind.