with a kiss
he tasted the salt
of her tears -
guilt washed over him
at feeling spring in his veins
This was the wrong place and moment
to have such strong lust and longing.
in his periphery,
her oniisan's sen-nin-bari
hung like a limp eel from her pocket
He was filled with the shame of it all.
To hell with this sacred, imperial war.
Two years too young to serve in the munitions factories,
many years too young to join in the fray,
he spent his time
amongst women, old men,
and the dreaded kempeitai.
His thoughts felt as those of a hikokumin.
He loved his ojiichan and obaachan,
who filled in for the roles of okasan,
and an otosan whom he hadn't heard from,
since the infantryman had stormed Rangoon, four months prior.
But spending so much time around mainly women and elderly folk
can become quite depressing for a man-boy.
Juzo and Aki slipped past a crowd of women
pushing against a rations cart,
clawing pathetically for scraps of rice, powdered eggs and salted fish.
This is what Nippon had been reduced to.
The pit in his stomach widened at the thought of dishes
he used to take for granted.
What he would do for some sukiyaki, mochi,
or even a slice of kasutera.
Walking through the streets hand-in-hand,
he felt the obake of shopkeepers
tending store behind boarded-up windows.
The entire city was brimming with negative thoughts,
probably partly due to the banning of the Joya-no-Kane -
what could purge the ill thoughts, now?
It felt like a pressure cooker of indecency,
steaming over into the gutters,
until even the gutters flooded,
spilling filth into the most private corners of kitchens and bedrooms.
Late at night,
when the blessing of sleep crept in,
he dreamt of food,
and of Aki finally breaching his shyness,
by taking the lead....
*Glossary(in order of appearance)
oniisan - brother
sen-nin-bari - stitched, woven cloth belt used as a talisman of protection by soldiers
kempeitai - military police
hikokumin - traitor
ojiichan - grandfather
obaachan - grandmother
okasan - mother
otosan - father
sukiyaki - sweet rice wine, cabbage, noodles, carrots, tender chicken
mochi - sticky rice with red bean in centre
kasutera - sponge cake
obake - ghosts
Joya-no-Kane - in Buddhist temples, gongs are hit 108 times with a log,
to help purge 108 indecent thoughts.
February 28th, 2012