Fate and Sakura
We Are Staying!!
Now it was sure that we are not leaving like rest of the villagers. As time ticked we could see the village emptying leaving nothing just the ghosts of life behind. A blanket of silence could be sensed covering the village. Only a few remained including important elders. They were still awaiting the messenger to return and so were we, despite the idea of staying behind. We carried on with our daily routines but the curiosity always brightened whenever Jako returned home in the eve. No one dared to ask him the whereabouts of the messenger. And as always he said nothing about it.
Eventually we gave up about the idea of asking him and life carried on like before. Now the autumn season had arrived and we were busy preparing for the winter. Everyday the men went out to the sea while the women were busy preserving food supplies. Since the school was closed the children provided great relief for their parents attending to errands. Even though the children preferred to hang out with us Aiko made sure that they are occupied with something at home.
Sometimes I would joke with Aiko saying that she is jealous and in reply she used to say “maybe, my shiroi saru-san!” Jako was very particular about fishing and the man knew the rhythm of the sea at the back of his head. He doesn’t like being lazy while at the sea and all of us felt his disapproval every now and then. It was bit shaky for me in the beginning but with help from Hiroto I managed to keep his anger at bay with my pro-activeness. Only Sato couldn’t keep up with the pace which made the beach scene to appear loud every time. Sometimes he would just leave everything let go of himself. We never went after him for we knew that he would come soon afterwards seeing us taking a smoke break.
Jako was a gentleman for he would always be the one who would offer Sato the cigar and say sorry. Though it’s not always Jako’s fault but every time he would say sorry making Sato feel comfortable. Hiroto then hops in between telling Sato that it was his fault not Jako’s jokingly. This infuriates Sato who would run to Jako for support. Like always Jako would shun off Hiroto telling him stop fooling around with Sato or sometimes admitting that it was his fault. But it could be seen that there is exchange of body gestures between father and son without Sato’s notice.
Sometimes I would look at Jako and Hiroto for the level of understanding they have. Sato ofcourse loses his temper very quickly but he is an important person in the family. Jako has respect for him but at times he needs to correct him or Sato will be master of his own. According to Hiroto last time Sato was let on his own he ended up in another village where he almost got killed. I asked Hiroto why and he replied,
“ I think he put up a fight with some men but got badly bashed up! If father hadn’t arrived on time he was done for this life,”
Well that wasn’t surprising for sure that was Sato’s nature and many times I had seen in dispute the village men.
“That’s why father had limited his wine but sometimes we secretly let him have more than the required amount because we love him!” Hiroto added.
“That’s why he is spoilt!”
I concluded to myself and continued with extracting fish from the net. Whole Autumn season we spent catching fish till our store house was full of dried fish supply.
Now the days were getting colder and staying long hours at the beach got me cramps around my legs. I tried some herbal medicine but the pain came back after we returned from the beach. The fields were idle with some remains of the summer and now we had opportunity to rake abandoned ones. Ofcourse someone has to make use of the food around or else it would be just waste. We were not the only ones but those villagers who remained could be seen as well. After hard days work our bellies were filled with varieties of nourishment everyday.
Who says we were on war? I felt pity for those who had left the village thinking whether they are getting ample to eat or not. But lest we worry about them since they had chosen their own path. Winter knocked at our door earlier and stayed indoors like previous ones. Children were always found gathered around me for stories. Unlike last winter I thought of a better plan this time. I took in charge of teaching them. I hated school myself and the commanding teachers but now I don’t know how I had decided to take role as a teacher.
At first the children were reluctant about learning but when I told them that I will tell them stories in between they were eager about it. It had been a while now and their school materials had disappeared. I also didn’t know where to begin with so I asked Hiroto to get me something like a board. In schools we have blackboard and use white chalk for writing. Hiroto gave me an old door with some charcoals. Well as long as teaching and learning can get along it doesn’t matter much to me. I began my first class with teaching alphabets. I had only three students but Jako’s house seemed much like normal classroom now. Children were quick to learn the alphabets and for three weeks my normal lesson was to teach alphabets and then tell a story afterwards.
I tried hard to recall what I did in first grade but that was a long time ago. Next I moved to simple words. I taught them how to construct words associated with sound. Whole of past three weeks I hadn’t answered so many questions which I did in one lesson. Children kept on asking me why some words don’t have a particular letter beginning with same sound. Even I got confused in between and was really struggling when Aiko came for my aid. She scolded them for being so ill mannered and told them to listen to me or else no more stories for them.
I was thankful to Aiko but at the same time felt sorry for these children. It’s their desire to know and that is learning but I am not a teacher. I wished if I had been one. Nevertheless I carried on and the children didn’t question me then onwards. After the class I thought about how to teach them properly so that they understand well. Whole night I lay awake trying to get something. Finally I had an idea.
Next morning before the lesson I asked children how do they used to learn at their schools. At first they looked around for Aiko and then one by one they started explaining what their teachers did and how they learned. From their explanation I could see that teachers used to teach phoenics first before the actual words. I could vividly remember how we used to rout phoenics in first grade. So I finished the lesson by telling them a short story and started working on the phoenics.
Aiko came up with a brilliant suggestion that I should convert Japanese letters into English alphabets first and teach them. Children are used to that and it may work. That whole night we spent together changing the Japanese alphabet chart into English. The children found it very interesting in the next class and finally I got the rhythm going. Then I taught them English phoenics, all types and styles I could think of. Even Jako would join sometimes in my class to observe how his children are doing with a new tongue.
As days went by my teaching hours increased and within next four weeks children had mastered phoenics. Now they can write simple words with little help. I encouraged them to write Japanese words in English. Though it didn’t seem like teaching English but I wanted children to get familiar with English phoenics before I move into next step. Meanwhile those lost school books started appearing all of a sudden and provided a great help to me. I would ask children to read out sentences from their books and change it into English writing. It was interesting thing for me as well since I got to learn that Japanese is written from right to left going vertically down. On contrast western style is to go horizontally, left to right.
Whichever way atleast knowledge is parted it doesn’t matter much to me for know. In time that goal was also achieved. Winter season came early and went so fast. Before spring children were well versed with English scripts and phoenics. Now it was time for me to move to my next step. I started teaching children basic English words first and then sentences. Then I taught them verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and tenses.
My aim was to finish all these before spring arrives since I will be out in the fields again and will have very less time with them. I used to teach them late in the evenings and even start up very early in the mornings. Sometimes Aiko got crossed with me for I was spending too much time with them but I knew it was for their benefit. Children were also very supportive and by early spring they had learned a great deal from me. I had decided that everyday after working in the fields I would spend atleast an hour with them so that they don’t forget what I had taught them whole of winter. But fate had it’s part to play. I could not continue with my teaching.