Fate and Sakura
After getting grandpa’s approval I started preparing myself for returning to Hokkaido. Grandma and aunt Shirley had been with me all this time and never seem to leave me from their sight. I suppose they knew that this time am going for good and may not see them again.
The last week of December I was trying to get close to everyone and especially grandpa. Though I have lot of things to ask him but I clutched it within my chest for time being. I spent hanging around with him at the farm or accompanying him to the town most of the time. He would tell me most of his future plans like buying land for farming and housing. He wanted to start up a housing business whereby he buys land and builds house from latest architectural designs for selling purpose. He wished for me to continue it after him as it would be under my name as he said.
For my part I agreed to abide by him and on my return from Okinawa I would resume straightaway. Apart from business prospective grandpa has something else in his mind. He said,
“Ryan by the time you return what will be your age?”
I thought why is he asking that after all this years. I replied without hesitation,
“Twenty seven, why?”
“Well at that age I was already father of two! I think you should get a wife for yourself! Do you have someone in your mind?” he asked.
I smiled within myself and said as if he would really care if I told him so. I replied,
“Nah! I don’t think I had time to decide all this while!”
Grandpa gave a small grin and said, “Well you won’t mind if I tell you that I had thought of someone!”
I looked at him for while trying to figure out if it is not farmer McGeigh’s niece Betty. Betty had been my grandpa’s favourite since farmer McGeigh had been grandpa’s best mate. We used to go to school together and were good friends. But I had always looked at her as my friend with no intention of getting married to. I asked grandpa,
“Let me guess, is it Betty? Farmer McGeigh’s niece!”
Grandpa burst out into laughter and spoke, “I knew you would say her name but unfortunately she’s not the one! She’s getting married next month and will settle in Boston! We spoke about you two marriage long time ago but you went missing in between and McGeigh thought of moving on! Anyway what do you think of Sgt. Haydens daughter Sarah?”
I looked at him and thought why on earth he had to think about forming a bond with the Hayden’s. Ofcourse if Hayden knows about it then definitely I will have to return from Okinawa. I asked grandpa,
“I will think about her when I get back from Okinawa!”
Grandpa asked me, “Why you wanna wait? If you say yes then we can talk with Haydens!”
So it became clear that grandpa had not discussed with the Haydens yet. What a relief! I replied,
“Well if you discuss now then there may be a possibility that Hayden will take extra care of me and I don’t like that! You know me very well that I work well when somebody is not gazing upon me! But don’t worry I will let him know while returning! ok!”
Grandpa wanted to discuss with the Haydens as soon as he got my confirmation but it was bit disappointing for him this time. He had no option so he said,
“Alright let be your way again this time! But tell you one thing, don’t change your mind about it when you come back!”
I replied, “Don’t worry grandpa, I give you my word!”
He looked satisfied and didn’t talk about that ever since. The week went as usual, grandma and aunt Shirley would meet me up secretly after dinner just to have chat with a cup of coffee. I know that they are missing me already but I admired the strength of these two women. Surely they know much about life by now and it is normal for them. The night before I left aunt Shirley and grandma prepared a parcel for me and did the final checking of my luggage. They didn’t stay up late because I was leaving early in the morning.
Though I didn’t want to sleep feeing bit insecure about missing the train but eventually went to sleep. I dreamt about Aiko that night but I wasn’t in Hokkaido. It appeared to me that I was at an unknown place. Aiko did not have that glamour in her face and looked more worn down to me. I asked her what had happened to her but she remained silent, smiling at me occasionally.
Just about she was to say something I woke up with a thud on my door. It was grandpa. He told me to get up or else I will miss my train. I got ready and gathered myself from the bed. Everyone were up but no one were talking. Only grandpa’s voice could be heard trying to hurry up things. I stepped out of my room and got everyone’s attention. Aunt Shirley was hiding her face from me and grandma was already in tears.
I did not talk to them and joined Peter on the sofa who was lying lifelessly. Maybe he didn’t like to be awaken so early up in the morning. Nevertheless everyone were up and waiting for the moment of departure. Aunt Shirley had prepared my breakfast but I didn’t feel like eating so I had coffee instead. Uncle Tom was sitting in the corner smoking his pipe while grandpa walking up and down the house trying to get things organized when already everything were organized. It was just very typical nature of him, never keep still even though everything is perfectly setup.
As the clock ticked away I felt more and more uneasy hence I decided to leave earlier than the schedule time. I knew that if I wait longer the harder it would become for aunt Shirley and grandma to farewell me. I picked up my stuff and asked grandpa to make a move now. He was eager to get going so he didn’t wait any second longer. He asked Peter to join us but he was too lazy to do so thus grandma volunteered instead. I shook hands with uncle Tom and hugged aunt Shirley and Maggie.
Aunt Shirley couldn’t hold herself as tears never seemed to cease. I promised her that I will write to her frequently. I gave my cowboy leather jacket to Peter who was overjoyed with the unexpected gift. Last time when I left only aunt Shirley farewell me but today the whole household were there. Pretty odd it seemed since most of them don’t know that am coming back and it looked like as if somehow the signs were driving them to see me for the last time. It was still dark but bit chilly.
We left the farm around 4.30 am and it took us forty minutes to get to the station. It normally takes less than half an hour but the train was schedule to leave around 5.30 so grandpa gave me a short tour around the town like old times. I made many promises to him but none would accomplish. Sgt. Hayden was waiting for me at the station. There were two other village boys joining us to Okinawa. I hugged grandma and grandpa before leaving them.
It felt bit strange this time. It seemed like my heart didn’t want to leave them when I hugged them. I felt a lump in my throat which was hard to swallow and every time I did try tears choked out of my eyes. I put all my luggage in the train and Sgt. Hayden asked me,
“Is that all son?”
I replied back, “Yup! That’s all for me!”
Grandpa who was standing close by told Sgt. Hayden,
“Last time he went I didn’t ask anyone to look after him but this time, Hayden make sure you keep your eyes on him! I have lot of plans coming up for him!”
Sgt. Hayden looked at me and said, “Don’t worry George, this time i will have my eyes on him! but if he wishes to stay back then don’t blame me!”
I gazed at Sgt. Hayden for making that statement but when he burst out into laughter I got my pulse back. Finally the moment came for me to depart. Again I hugged my grandparents and promised to write to them. I got on the train and didn’t take my eyes off them till I could not see them at all. I felt sad and disappointed for this wasn’t the way I wanted to leave this place. Maybe someday I will come back and my decision would be accepted. I looked at the view outside as darkness was slowly making way to light.
I began to wonder if life is like this. The beginning and end point is not the matter of concern, it’s the journey which stands out above all. Maybe life is like that. Whatever we come across is part and partial of the journey that we are going through. Journey completes when your life concludes. I don’t need another life to make things better for me. I can always do in this one as the same chances may not repeat in the next. So whatever step I had taken there is no time to regret about it. am moving on and that’s the way it should be for it is my life not somebody else’s.