Fate and Sakura
Things were not like before at grandpa’s place. All these years I had looked up to this man in my life and now am standing on the other side having no feelings towards him. Though I wouldn’t take that step but it is really making me uncomfortable to live side by side with a person who ruined my parents happiness.
Everytime I see uncle Tom and grandpa I feel like asking them straight, why they had done that? Why didn’t they give them a chance to live on their own? What grandpa had proven to himself by doing this? Neither my questions will finish nor will they be able to give me a satisfying answer. So for sometime I tried to ignore having conversation with them. They thought that am still angry with uncle Tom’s happening and didn’t consider much about it.
In the meantime I had met Sgt. Hayden twice and confirmed him about joining his team for Okinawa. Everything was okay but Sgt. Hayden requested this time I should pass the message about leaving to my grandpa rather than him. The man had his reasons and I didn’t want to question him about it since he is doing a favour to me. We were due to leave for Okinawa on 2nd January, 1947 and all this time I was looking for the right opportunity to strike.
But everytime I face grandpa all his doings in regards to my parents comes floating in my mind and I lose myself for a moment. It was a totally difficult feeling for me. I spoke to aunt Shirley and grandma about it and they tried to comfort me with their encouraging words. Words do not have much effect on me as my emotions had been stirred with a lot up recently. However I thanked them for being by my side and trying their best to rekindle confidence in me.
Winter days goes quickly since sun sets much earlier. I tried to maintain calm and focused upon my goal all this while. Everytime grandpa’s and uncles misdeed comes up I think of Aiko and spending my life with her. I think of the good times I had in Hokkaido and the meaning of life I got there. Whatever happens it happens for good. Nature has it’s own way of dealing things and we should leave things to nature when we can’t do much about it. Time on time I waited for the right moment and finally it came.
It was Christmas eve when I had the final opportunity to put it across to grandpa. We were having our Christmas supper together. Aunt Shirley had prepared spoils from the farm. Roast goose, pork pie, garlic bread, sweet corn, coleslaw, potato salad, pumpkin soup, apple tart any many more. To make it more refreshing all of us had 1892 first class French wine. My grandpa made a toast for having a wonderful year and most important of all my return. He expected me to forget and forgive my past dealings as we move to the new year. I accepted grandpa’s request and formally apologized to uncle Tom once more. In my heart I was still cursing him but nevertheless I had other things in my head.
Finally I made it known to everyone that am leaving on New Years eve for Los Angeles. That came as a shocking for not only grandpa but grandma and aunt Shirley as well. They never thought that I will be leaving so early. Grandpa was quiet for a while but that was the quiet before the storm I would say. He started his grumbling and complaining soon after.
He said, “What do you mean that you are leaving? You just came here and now you are saying that you are going? What the heck that suppose to mean? Now the war is over and the president of America should rest in peace! We had won! It’s over and everyone should get back to their lives now! Why the hell they need soldiers for? You are not going and that’s all, you understand that?”
He looked towards grandma and aunt and told them, “He is not going you got that! He is just not going! And that’s clear! What does US Army think, that everytime they would call for men and each time we are going to sacrifice our sons? He is just back from the jaws of death and now they want to send him back again! No matter what he is not going! Am going to see the General…or..major,..or the defence secretary ..or whoever regarding this! If I need to I will go and see president Eisenhower himself! Good mother of god what the hell is happening in this country? We are not like Germans or Japs who are hungry for power going around, killing butchering everyone……!”
He tried to continue and I couldn’t hold it any further. I replied to grandpa,
“ Not all of them are hungry for power, for atleast where I had been people doesn’t know about war even!”
That enraged grandpa more and he said, “Then why don’t you go stay there forever! Why you had to come then? We would have assumed that you were dead!”
Unknowingly he said what I wanted but I did not want to make things obvious so I tried another approach.
“Grandpa if you could only listen to me then I can explain to you what exactly it is about? You are just making things worse here with your misunderstanding?” I said.
At first he didn’t like the sound of it and was ready to explode when uncle Tom intervened and asked,
“What is it about then…..your going to Los Angeles?”
“Well first of all you should know that I am a US soldier and it’s my duty to report when am called, for if am not then am not regarded as a defender of America!”
I said in a firm tone so that it hits them as if uncle Sam himself is saying it out.
“Secondly am going to Okinawa a captured island territory to install US base! You must understand that Japan is now in no position to go on war after the Atomic bombings! All their factories and weapons had been destroyed together with the enemy soldiers!”
I had to lie towards the ending part so that it convinces them that it is safe to go to Japan.
“I am going with the largest US fleet to Japan together with those which had returned from Europe! Infact there are thousands of US fleet and military personal already there!”
Further lie to update them with latest and unheard news. As I was saying that out I could see their attention getting fully engrossed towards me. Not a single sound could be heard from them and soon the room became pin drop silence. I continued with my play,
“ I will stay at Okinawa for six months only and then another set of soldiers will come! For those who had served once they won’t be called again! I think it is better to go now since we will be in the first lot and there won’t be any chance for Japanese to strike back. Maybe some are planning to attack US but that would take three to four years to regain their strength and by that time I will be here with you guys! If there is a war then I can always deny since am doing my duty now! So please think about it and make a wise decision! Am doing this for my future not my past!”
Nobody said a word for a while. Still waiting for someone to start. Then grandpa said,
“ Are you sure that they won’t bother you again? Last time you tricked us by saying that you will stay on mainland but ended up in Hokkaido! Are you not lying this time, Ryan?”
I looked at him between his eyes. I was filled with determination and confidence and this time when I looked at him I felt sorry for him. I know that I was lying but I have my own reason and this was for my good as well as for this house. I opened my mouth and said,
“I swear to God about it, this is for the good of this house and my family!” I said subtly.
Grandpa looked at everyone and then me and then the roast uncut goose infront of him. He picked up the knife and said,
“Let’s enjoy the Christmas eve shall we!” he smiled and began slicing the goose.
While doing that he said, “I think you should go this time Ryan, but make sure no more tricks! Ok!”
I was touched by his decision but didn’t want to show it. Grandma’s tale regarding my parents were still fresh. But in order to keep them guessing I made a smiley gesture towards grandpa holding my drink up high.
“Every word of mine is true, if not then don’t let me taste aunt Shirley’s goose tonight!”
I said that burst out laughing which was shared by everyone. We enjoyed the feast and stayed up late till past midnight. Nobody slept early on Christmas eve since on this day we open up presents by the Christmas tree at midnight. We were now all grown ups so the myth about Santa Claus was no longer there. I don’t know who chose the present for me but it was a useful one. A pocket knife with handyman’s features. Not much but it had a small saw, pliers and cockscrew together with the blade. Maybe it was from uncle Tom since it was the time of reunion and forgetting our indifferences but I didn’t ask.
Grandpa received a new bottle of the finest bourbon whiskey. Apart from drinks he does not prefer anything else so it must be from grandma. Others received something of their interest. Grandma and aunt Shirley received a pair of shoes and uncle Tom a new leather belt. Peter got a cowboys hat while Maggie a new cardigan. I shared moments with everyone. I felt remorse about my actions but I was helpless. I had to make decisions on my own and it doesn’t come that easy when you are fighting with the truth and your conscience.
Whatever my grandpa did was wrong but on the other hand he loved me like his own child. He had supported me from the beginning and there numerous good times I had with him. I cannot punish him for I do not hold the right to. Maybe I should leave it to the one up there as grandma says. Making decisions had always been the most difficult task for man n matter what the situation is. The important thing is that there shouldn’t be regrets after making decision. However it’s always the case.