I knelt beside Elder Iyoshi as a child, painting with him the birds by the Shrine of Omata. I remembered the mastery I had developed of painting. “Iyoshi, sensei?” I asked. “What my pupil?” he had asked with his calm complacent face. “Who is Omata? “ I would ask. “How dare you ask! It is forbidden to know.” He would reply bewildered. “Is it because I am a girl?” I asked curious. All men boasted that they knew but would never share with woman. Elder Iyoshi looked at me with scorn. “No, it is not. As you know woman here are equal to men. Why would you even ask?” he said gentle gray hair dangling before his aging face. I looked at him with disgust as youth of a young age usually do. He seemed hurt by this and we hadn’t talked for several days.
The next time I had greeted him was when I found him sulking beside the fountain in the garden early before the sun had arisen. “Sensei, Iyoshi?” I had asked. “What is the matter? Can you not see that I am in pain? He said. The fountain water seemed to pour endlessly from an unknown source. I often wondered where its water came from. “Would you like to drink with me and pray to Kaykatu?” I said bowing with an ill practiced posture. Just like the fountain, Elder Iyoshi’s tears seemed to fall endlessly though I didn’t know why. Was it his being blind which bothered him? “Are you bowing?” Elder Iyoshi said wondering. “Yes sensei,” I smiled. “I am bowing.” I often questioned his blindness and with good reason. Around me it was as though he saw all, yet around others he appeared to be helpless. Elder Iyoshi let a smile creep onto his lips. “It would be my pleasure.” He replied.
I poured the Sukanta Tea in his cup as we now sat in what would be the living room in a modern house. I stared at the blinds. Something bothered me… Why? “Sukanta tea! How rare! How did you get this? Do you know that Sukanta tea hasn’t been made in hundreds of years? I had it once as a boy because any remaining leaves were passed down.” Elder Iyoshi said in utter amazement. “Mommy gave me a few bags of Sukanta leaves a few days ago. She said to share them with someone special whenever I drank it.” Elder Iyoshi smiled and his eyes reddened as though he was fighting tears. “What is wrong?” I asked. “Nothing. I am truly honored. It is not very often that I am honored. Thank you” he said. Together we picked up our cups and drank the decadent Sukanta tea which tasted of apples, berries and various spices along with the original Sukanta taste which was unparalleled. I had felt happiness through me which was of course very common on our land.
After several talks of painting, fishing and fairy- catching Elder Iyoshi grew a bit restless. Still I found myself staring at the blinds. Somehow Elder Iyoshi caught on. “What is bothering you dear?” he asked. I was young and I could not explain the feeling of distress I experienced. “I don’t know...” I said my voice trailing off. “Are you sure?” persisted Elder Iyoshi. “Yes,” I replied reassuringly “I am fine. Thank you for asking”. Elder Iyoshi stood up fixing his robes. “This was very wonderful. Allow me to clean the mess we have made.” he said contently. I thanked Elder Iyoshi and he bowed in perfect form to me, all seven years of me. He picked up the wooden cups and Sukanta bags. Then he left swiftly and gracefully as a sword which flies in the wind toward its target. Once more I found myself staring at the elegant white blinds. Beautiful sparks fell from the sky it seemed and I sat in amazement. They were golden flecks floating downward. No, they were not. They were ashes. This made me stare deeper: all sound and all thought became unperceivable and I was locked on the white blinds. And then a red orb like ball fell on the ground and illuminated the room. “IYOSHI!!!!!!” I screamed. And then…
My thoughts overwhelm me. I fall on the bed crying. These memories are too much to bear. I have to stay focused on what is now. But now is a nightmare.
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