Fate and Sakura
It’s the mid-spring season and I still can’t walk. The pain is still there which is the worst part of it. I really miss hospital service back home and most importantly those fresh looking young nurses. How can I forget their beauty which takes away half the pain away. Unlike here where am being cared by mid-aged women who often make fun of me while giving me bath. And I hate the support given by the dickhead Sato.
The idiot always trips me over while accompanying me to the toilet. Sometimes I wonder if my leg was ok so that I could give him a kick. He is always drunk and farts all night along. It has been more than a month in this village and still I haven’t come across anyone who can speak English. The folks tried to communicate through a fisherman from Alaska. But I suppose apart from few words and the usual Yes’s and No’s he does not speak English.
Now am staying in his house and since he is an Alaskan man he has a recognized status over here. His name is ‘Juncan’ nicknamed Jako by the locals. He speaks Japanese very well and has two wives. From observing their everyday routines I can get the wives don’t like each other but cannot fight in front of Jako. The first wife Hana who is a local has three children. Hiroto the eldest son twenty-one, Aiko second eldest daughter eighteen and the youngest daughter, Hitomi around twelve. Hitomi was very active and playful. She was also very curious as she always accompanied her mother when she brings food for me.
A very common word she often says like something………. and then ‘taberu!’ I suppose ‘taberu’ means something to do with eating or food but I like the way she says it. Jako’s second wife is an Alaskan and her name is Shila which means flame in Eskimo. She was the reason why Jako made frequent trips to Alaska which I learnt later. Shila is quite younger than Hana but has a loud mouth. Sometimes her tone is very uncomfortable to my ears especially if she has an argument or scolding the children. Sometimes I wonder if she is cursing me as well because am an extra burden in the house now.
She has two children, Yuralria a girl who is around Hitomi’s age and six year old Miki the youngest son in the house yet. Shila had conceived a child in the winter and is expecting it by late summer. However Miki is still Jako’s pet. Whenever Jako returns from fishing he makes sure that he gets Miki’s favourite shellfish. Though Jako has a very large family he can feed them all. Actually he inherited a farm and family house from Hana’s family. I would say luck by chance. I don’t know how come Jako is here in Hokkaido but as far as I can say he married Hana first and then later Shila. Maybe someday I will know his family history.
Hana is a very peaceful lady and often gets along with people. Shila is also kind and speaks Japanese quite well. Maybe she learnt it from her husband. Hana usually comes over with Hitomi and Aiko to dress my wounds and give local medicine. But when they need to change my clothes the girls were forbidden to come. Instead village ladies came. Now I can somehow put on my clothes but these ladies are persistent and don’t let me do it. It’s quite easy to take off these clothes because it’s something like a pyjama up to knee length and a long sleeve t-shirt.
Hana is a sensible person and usually puts a towel on my thighs before taking off my pants. Ofcourse once it was really embarrassing when one old lady by mistake took away the towel leaving a loud shrill tone of laughter in the house. Fortunately Hatoshi and Jako were home that day and quickly responded to my aid. That moment is still fresh in the minds of these ladies and everytime when it is time to change my pants there is sequel of giggles spreading across the room. During cold nights am given a very thick blanket and cut out piece of sail cloth. I would prefer an animal hide rather but this sail cloth is not bad.
However it is very heavy and sometimes makes it very uncomfortable while getting up for toilet calls. Especially when Sato is there to provide his excellent service. I often look at these people and think about their kindness and caring nature. How could they allow an enemy of the country to breath the same air alongside them. The ransom thing frequently strikes me but now by looking at their reaction towards me I could say they are not thinking anything about it for now atleast. But the moment am back on my feet I have to flee from here to avoid any possible contact from Japanese soldiers. For sure they won’t spare me.
As a soldier am naked and useless without my arms at the moment. Everyday the same routine continues. In the morning Hitomi rushes to my room with Yuralria and Miki to check whether am awake or not. Usually I am and they rush to their mothers to tell them am awake. Then Aiko comes to help me get up and tells Sato to take me out to relieve myself. Sato is Hana’s younger brother who is also middle aged but no way like her. There is a difference in how Hana and Jako talk to Sato and the way Aiko does. Usually Aiko is friendly and shows some respect to Sato whereas Hana and Jako are more commanding in nature. Sato does not like conversation with the parents but with the children it is hard to believe that it is really Sato.
Aiko sometimes secretly gives Sato some money for his wine and Sato in return sometimes goes out to mountains to gather wild fruits and vegetables. Maybe Aiko in return is paying him up for the normal errands he is doing for the house. One way or the other it is interesting to see how this family is living their daily lives. There is no rush for development or a better life. The whole village is actually quite content with what they have I suppose. They are basically farmers or fishermen and each day is like the other unless if there is an event in the village. The days work begins with the first ray of the Sun and till it’s last everyone are doing something. It’s past four month since I crashed into here and everything looks kinda same all the time.
Now I can walk a few distance but not far from home as Jako had instructed me somehow to stay nearby. I often head out to the sea with the village children led by Hitomi ofcourse. Though I can walk now but still need a walking stick for support and often it’s hard to keep up with children’s pace. I don’t know their names yet but they are often keen to accompany me for a short walk to nearby distance. Hitomi once told me their names but it sounds very similar and unique for me. After frequent company of them I know them by their face and even stop by village pathway for a short entertainment.
I hardly understand what they are saying but it sounds cute when they hop around me chasing each other. It’s hard to explain how come they had grown so fond of me and we had formed a unique relationship which is defying they enmity placed between us. The usual walk to the sea reminded me of my childhood days back in States. Though we didn’t have any sea but the trip down to the lake was always enjoyable. Seeing the stars in theses children’s eyes makes me forget the days of miseries. Hitomi was always the first one to run down to the beach and get into knee deep water. I had to rush behind them yelling that it’s dangerous but children are always keen to do things on their own. I wasn’t about them getting wet or drowning themselves. What exactly I was worried about was the beating they would receive at their homes.
I could still remember how little Miki screamed as Shila blazed her anger on him. Poor Miki, I still feel for him now though he had forgotten about it. The beach is unlike what we had seen so far. I mean in Hawaii it’s white and down in the south it is golden according to my friends who had been there. This is dark in colour, I mean it appears to be grey like in Alaska. Sandy in nature as it is but it’s dark colour truly captivating with the serene northern sea. How ironic the sea appears to be calm and peaceful while the skies are raging with terror.
Don’t know the situation of war right now and I suppose I should not for my betterment. The long stretch of coastline provides an ideal spot for children to play around. For days I set down gazing at the sun setting over the horizon while the children play around. Sometimes they come over and hide under my arms or beside me for a usual hide and seek playtime. Their squeals and laughter lightens up the dusky atmosphere till someone comes up to call them home. Nightfall is always a big worry for any parent and I also believe in that. After that I usually head out to the bathing spot near the house. Aiko prepares my clothes and usually leaves it with Sato.
Males cannot take bath in the house over here for it is meant for females and children only. They have to join other males to the village bathing spot. I wonder that it is summer now and still bit chilly out here. What about in winter? I can’t come here for bathing! Perhaps these people have something for it instead. It takes me about an hour to finish my bath. Actually it is quite short but I have to wait for Sato who likes to yearn with other village folks.
Sometimes I wonder what exactly they are talking about. Gosh! I wish I could speak their tongue. We usually reach home when it is dark and all the way along I have to listen to Sato’s stories. Though I don’t understand but I wonder it must be really interesting. Supper is usually served warm and brought by Aiko to my room. Sato is always hungry but Aiko puts something extra like fruits to supplement just in case there is not enough.
Though the food is totally new to me but it does not taste bad afterall. Fish, shellfish, shrimps, salmon eggs and octopus I get it but I don’t know the vegetables they are using or the soup ingredients. But it doesn’t matter to me. I guarantee it must be equivalent to a Christian diet. Sato is always happy after a good meal and when he is happy he sings out loud. It is ok that he is singing but sometimes it’s too much and rather more irritating then entertaining.
One night while I was complaining to Sato about his singing, I heard Hana banging on our door and calling out Sato. For a moment I could not gather my breath as I wanted to know what was the matter. Aiko was also with Hana. Usually they don’t stay up awake that late in the night. I remained silent for a moment and after while I could gather a faint moaning sound as if someone was in labour pain. Then it clicked me that it’s Shila. She was due in summer. Sato accompanied Hiroto to get village mid-wives and some other elder women. Though Hana and Shila don’t get along very well but at such times Hana had unveiled the curtain of vexity.
Maybe it is the nature of these people who accept everyone with arms wide open or perhaps it is an act of humanity. Aiko and Hana tried to calm Shila down while the children stayed out with Jako. Jako smiled at me and said “baby..!…….coming” but I could still see a shadow panic hiding behind his eyes which he does not want to reveal. The village ladies soon came and took over from Aiko and Hana. Aiko came out and took control of looking after the children while Jako and myself joined other men who had come with Sato.
It’s strange with this people that they join each other for comfort and support at any event in the village. Even in events such like this. Maybe it deals with how they socialize and at such events anything can happen. It could be an outcome of joy or a heart-aching sorrow. At any event they want to show that they also feel for the person involved or his family. There is dark blanket of silence where the men had gathered but we could still hear the moaning of Shila and the village ladies comforting tones. It seems like they are treating Shila as the baby. Everytime Hana comes out Jako stands up and after a few gestures from her he sits down. Someone in the ring then asks Jako if everything is ok or not.
It would soon be dawn and there are now forty men gathered near Jako’s house. Before the cock resumed their morning duties there is a cry from the house. Sharp squeal like a young piglet and everyone out knew that the birth had taken place. A loud applause from men is raised for Jako maybe to congratulate him but Jako is still awaiting Hana to come out. After a few minutes Hana came out looking tired but with a smile to her husband. Jako walked swiftly to her. We don’t know what she was talking but it seems like that both the child and mother were alright. Jako’s body language was enough to confirm the outcome.
I could guess that it must be a boy because there are already three daughters but to my surprise it was a girl. Jako seemed really happy. Girls are valued more than boys in this place I suppose. Maybe they are the engines which makes any family or household function. The men are all happy for Jako and one by one they are walked up to congratulate him. It is unusual to see how these people are valuing such events. Back in States we don’t such affection. Maybe the native Indians used to do before European contact but over here this is the culture.
Jako soon goes inside the house to see Shila and the newborn while the women came out smiling though looking tired. It’s dawn now and I guess everyone would be reluctant to go out with their daily routine. I was right but soon found out that the village is holding a celebration for Jako’s family. Well that’s weird because the child had only come into the world and this people are holding up a congratulatory function. What about if she doesn’t make it? I mean am just bit sceptic about it because infants sometimes don’t last long especially in places like this where there are no hospitals. But whatever am out to witness the event of the day.
Read ALL CHAPTERS | [To be Continued]