Fate and Sakura
Jako was quite impressed with my recent teaching of his children. For sure he knows that they know more than him now. He asked me if I could teach as well. In reply I told him
“Sure but you have to wait next winter!”
He confirmed that he will be a good student but he will bring along Sato with him as well. I told him then I have to be very strict about attendance. We laughed out loud after the conversation and then retire to our daily work. Of course we knew that would never happen but just to start up the day with something we often cracked jokes. Now am part of this household and would spend the rest of my life here. I don’t feel anything new and am quite used to it. I never thought that one day I would end up here and things would change so much. But with the help of these good people and god I suppose I feel am very lucky to be here in fact.
It was spring now and the fields were still waking up from the winter beds. This was the time to act or else we would miss out the timing before the rain comes. Everyday, like usual we were out in the field working our bones dry. By evening sometimes I could feel my feet couldn’t feel the very earth I was walking onto. I promised the children that I would teach them atleast one hour everyday but I wondered why I had made that promise at the first place. After meals only thing I looked forward to was the sleeping room.
I managed to teach them for a couple of days then it never happened. I was too tired to even talk to Aiko, or hang out with the males. Jako insisted that we should sleep early since we worked hard during the day. So that was a bit of help for me but I really felt bad because it was like cheating with the kids. But I couldn’t do much. I really wanted to help them but as long as the fields are not prepared I think we could skip teaching for a while. So I usually slept earlier than others but was the first one to wake next morning.
While the others got ready I had some time to spend with Aiko. We would hang out wherever we found no one else in sight. Being close to her gave me a warm feeling in my chest but my heart played a dual role as it was also in panic for not to be caught. Once Shila caught us while we lip-locked in the kitchen. But she was very understanding and did not disturb us till we were done. And then she cleared her throat she made aware that she is around. We were so embarrassed that we didn’t know what to do. Aiko quickly grabbed a pot and started filling it with water. I didn’t anything to grab so I rushed towards Aiko to help her. Pretty weird move since she had been doing that every morning ever since she got the kitchen responsibility. Shila walked quietly towards us and we didn’t have courage to turn around and greet her.
In an impish tone she said “How are you two this morning?”
We turned around and in stuttering manner greeted her. She went on to say
“I know what you two were doing!”
My hands froze for a second and I suppose same thing happened to Aiko. Aiko said in a cautious tone
“What was it mother?”
Shila smiled and burst out “Of course kissing right!”
I could see a red paint blushed up upon Aiko’s face and the same reflection was on mine. Shila said
“It’s okay children! I know the feeling of urgency in you right now! I once had it and because of that am ended with three children! For goodness sake sometimes I wonder why we have this feeling! At first it’s good and then……………..a disaster!”
we couldn’t ourselves and burst out into laughter. Shila told us that since she is preparing the morning meal now days, we can have some time of ours before she actually gets in the kitchen. But she warned us not to do anything stupid. I knew what she meant and I suppose Aiko was too naïve for it now. Though she had allowed us to have some time together in the morning we were too embarrassed to actually go for it. We met up with each other in the kitchen but just did our normal chatting. However sometimes when Aiko went to milk cows I followed her and there we had opportunity to express ourselves. It became our normal routine every morning and each day it drew Aiko more closer to me.
Sometimes when we didn’t get any moment to share I would grab her to another room and give her a quick kiss before going down to the fields. It wasn’t just me but she also did it whenever she got an opportunity. Though she is around I want to see her always. My heart glowed ever time I think about her nowdays. Sometimes I couldn’t concentrate what am doing or what people are saying. Many times Sato and Hiroto had to wake me up from the middle of my illusions.
The world around me does not have any meaning. Everything feels so empty outside even though it’s full of nature. From inside it’s still empty no matter how much I fill it with her love. Everytime it seeks out for more. I don’t when it will be filled but hope it remains like this so that I fill it every moment with her love. The fileds were now ready but it still needed some touch ups.
One day we were busy with preparing the beddings when someone from the village came and called Jako for an immediate meeting. Jako told us to continue and he will be back soon. After he left Sato sat down and started demanding Hiroto for a cigar. They were busy arguing but my mind was set on the emergency meeting. What it could be? I asked myself. I hope it has nothing to do with me. I continued with my work but my mind was fixed with the outcome of the meeting. By evening we had completed our work and as we were preparing to leave Jako came. He didn’t have the same expression that he used to have whenever he came home after the meeting. I could see shadow sadness on him.
He came up to us and spoke that the messenger had arrived. Japan had surrendered to America. The war was over. It was a good news indeed but later he added. America had requested to handover all the prisoners.
“Well am not going! I said.
“They don’t know whether am alive or not?”
Jako looked at me and said “ They didn’t know that you were alive till the messenger told the military!”
I looked at Jako with eyes wide open and with the feeling of my heart sinking down to my feet.
I argued “No! am not going! Even if the President of America comes and begs me to come I won’t go!”
There was a pause for a moment and then Hiroto spoke “Father if he doesn’t want to go then let it!”
Jako replied “ Well I told them that you are not leaving and this is your home now! But they are coming by tomorrow evening son! I can fight with these villagers for you son but you have to deal with them yourselves”
Jako turned and walked towards home. Hiroto said
“No brother! You are not going! Let them come and I will tell them!”
I looked at Hiroto and said “don’t worry brother! I know how to handle them.”
We returned home later and that night and Jako had already told them. Aiko came and held me tightly followed by rest of the kids.
They kept on saying “Please don’t go! Please don’t go!”
I confirmed them that am going nowhere and made them a promise. Till now Aiko didn’t say anything but hearing me promising them she couldn’t hold herself and said,
“I hope your promise does not turns into like the teaching one!”
she dashed inside the house sobbing. Jako raised his voice and said
“Don’t worry he is not going anywhere! They cannot just do whatever they like! I suppose they respect a mans decision even though now we are their prisoners.”
We sat on the verandah and chatted for a long time. Everyone were giving their opinion and even Sato suggested that I should hide in the mountains with Hiroto. But I denied since I knew how military deals with people who harbour prisoners. I assured them many times that I won’t go but it seemed like they were more in panic than me. Nobody had dinner that night and I suppose some of us didn’t sleep as well. As time went by I wished the sun to never rise again. But this is mans world and a man has to face whatever comes across.
We were up before the dawn. Meals were served earlier than usual but no one felt like touching the food. Finally Jako insisted that we should eat and get ready for the day.
“We have whole day up ahead of us and don’t know when they are coming! We better keep ourselves busy or we won’t feel like working!” he said.
Quietly we ate our food and went to the field. We kept ourselves busy but minds were occupied with their arrival. Just before midday a boy ran up to us to inform that they were here.
“This is it boys! Let’s face it!” said Jako.
We returned our tools to the shed and went down to the village. I could see American soldiers and some Japanese personal treated by the village elders. When they saw us one of the elders pointed at me informing the military that it’s me. An American official came forward and greeted me in the usual manner.
“ Flight Lt. Ryan Ashton, we are glad to see you! I am Sgt. Tom Hayden from the 22nd Infantry Division. Am here to collect you on the command of the President of the United States of America, so are you ready to come home son!” said Sgt. Hayden.
I saluted them according to our protocol “ Flight Lieutanant Ryan Ashton from 95th Airborne Division reporting Sir!”
Sgt. Hayden told me to get on ease and then we talked casually.
“I got the news that your plane had crashed and we presumed that you were dead. How did you escape and managed to get here?” Sgt. Hayden asked.
“I thought that am heading the bird towards Kurils but since my radio was broken I lost control of my direction and crashed landed here!” I said.
“And there was another pilot with you…. What was his name?” he questioned.
“Charles Wakeham!” I said.
“Yes Charles Wakeham! Where is he?” he questioned.
“Pvt. Charles Wakeham died in the crash Sir! He was shot during the air raids in Tokyo!” I answered.
“Oh he is dead I see….well anyway how did these people find you?”
“ Well my plane crashed into the shallows and these people responded immediately at the crash site. They managed to get us out on time but I couldn’t remember since I was unconscious. When I woke up I found myself at this mans house (pointing at Jako) where they brought me back from dead!” I explained.
“Well they had done a great job son and truly thankful to them (bowing to Jako). Now the war is over and we had won it!” he said in joyous tone. “Anyway go and get yourself ready ‘coz we are leaving soon! I wish to get on that ship in two days time!” Sgt. Hayden said.
“Permission to speak, Sir! I need to say something!” I asked him.
“Permission granted!” Hayden replied.
“I wish to stay here Sir! I don’t want to return!” I told him.
“What! Why do you have to say such a thing! You are a soldier and I suppose you know what you are saying! Now don’t waste my time and get ready to leave this godforsaken place!” He demanded.
“ These people saved me and I owe my life to them now! I had pledged a vow with them and this is my final decision!” I replied.
“ Lt. Ashton do you think that I am a fool to you! I was half way down finishing my steak couple of days back when I was radioed to come and collect you a.s.a.p! What vow you had pledged to them now! Have you forgotten that the first and last vow you pledge is to your country alone! Now stop bullshitting around or else we will have to force you out of this place!” thundered Sgt. Hayden.
I wished to argue more but seeing the amount of military man present and these poor helpless villagers I didn’t say much. I knew how the minds of these military men run. They just want me back so that everyone back home will have something to hear about. Ofcourse days will go on forever about how America won the war and over crafted heroic tales to entertain everyone. I looked at Jako and he understood my situation more than me. With a deep silent nod he gestured to do as they wish. I had no other choice now. Sgt. Hayden seems like a man without heart and I wished for him to end up in this situation one day. Twenty fully equipped military personal left me with no choice but to abide by their decision.
I returned home with rage suffocating in my guts. I got hold of my military bag and equipment which had been lying in Sato’s room till now. I greeted everyone but words were short of my tears. I thanked Hana and Shila for looking after me. They were shocked and also displeased with my decision. They kept asking Jako how could he (me) do such a thing. Jako kept silent. Hiroto didn’t came closer to me. I went towards him but he dashed aside. Sato gave me pat on my shoulders and asked for forgiveness. I gave him a hug and told him that I should ask forgiveness not him, with a lump in my throat.
I went to the kids who were crying and held me tight. I told them that I will come soon and they didn’t stop at anything. Later they ran to their parents begging them to stop me from going but they couldn’t do anything. Lastly I went to Aiko. She was in her room staring out through the window. I held her hand but words couldn’t come out my mouth. It seemed like now don’t have anything to say though I wanted to say a lot of things. She kept looking at the window and said
“Your promise…, never happened! Please don’t make me any promise! Just go!”
she swung her hand out of my hands and turned towards the kitchen. I tried to follow her but it seemed like that she does not want to speak now. I stayed there motionless for a while and then went outside. Jako and Sato accompanied me to the village.
Jako said “I know son that it hadn’t been easy for you! You had tried your best but still you can’t do much! But most importantly you thought about us all! Well this is life at it’s best! The more you want from it the more it get’s away from you! Anyway it was nice to have you around!”
Jako didn’t say much because I could sense his tone dropping and we walked quietly down the village path. Sato then spoke “So when are you coming back?”
at that question Jako gave him an unpleasing look to which he replied
“What? He is not going forever! Look at those migrating birds, they always come back so why won’t he?”
Jako told him to shut up but he didn’t. They started their usual argument again and then I intervened.
“He is right! I will come back!”
They stopped and looked at me.
“See I told you! He is coming back! I will tell Aiko!” said Sato but I silenced him saying “If you tell Aiko then I won’t come!”
Sato agreed that he won’t mention it to Aiko. I looked at Jako and he knew that I was just trying to calm him down. He didn’t say anything and we continued walking. At last we reached the village and the military personal were ready to leave. I shook Jako’s hand to say goodbye but he grabbed me and gave me a big hug. Though it was unusual especially in front of Sgt. Hayden but I accepted Jako’s hug for because of this man I am what I am today. I hugged Sato and in my ears he whispered “I will be waiting!” and I replied to him “So do I!”
We departed soon afterwards and every step I made my heart felt pain of a fresh new cut. Sadly I walked passed the fields and saw Hiroto working on the fields and did not look at us. I smiled and said to myself as if I wanted this to happen. I kept on going on with memories of this place and people still fresh in my head. Aware of nothing, but just Aiko in the end. Will I see her again? Will I get this life again? Why I was here at the first place? I wished that I had died in that crash. The pain of heart and mind were playing stupid games with me. Felt like hammering my head with a hammer over and over again or burn the whole world to ruins but all my emotions are defied for the moment by my never stopping walk. I kept on walking till my feet found itself aboard on the ship bound to America. Am going home. Alive by body but dead by spirit. I wish never of this had happened so that I won’t take this suffering back home.