Hi to all,
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In my last two newsletters I have written about my new friend Okada- san, and she has proven to be quite popular amongst the Seishindo community.
If you are new to our newsletter you might like to catch up with the last two issues, before or after reading this issue. Go here for the first story about Okada-san, and go here for the second story which appeared in the last newsletter.
2. One thing leads to the next
I saw Okada-san again yesterday and she got very excited when I told her I had written some heartwarming stories about her recently. She particularly lit up when I told her my stories were mainly read by “gaijin” (foreigners).
“Oh my goodness,” she said, “Who would have ever thought I’d be playing some role in communicating to thousands of foreigners!”
“I feel a bit like the foreign minister,” she said, “But without all the political responsibilities.”
“Please be sure to tell them all I said Hello! And be sure to let them know I bowed to each and every one of them.” She said while bobbing up and down several times.
I could tell her mind was really in overdrive.
“You know” she said, “I can always tell whether or not people bow to me when hanging up the phone after a conversation. Salesmen rarely bow, and some people who I thought would, don’t. I find this rather disappointing. It’s a shame people don’t have more respect for each other. Without respect the relationship will never be a good one.”
This was the first time I had seen Okada-san look a bit melancholy.
“What will you write about next?” she asked as her faced brightened up.
“Well” I said, knowing she was really asking, ‘What will you write about me next?’
“Well, I was thinking that perhaps you would tell me a story or two about your life, and I would relate your stories to my readers.”
“Oh my goodness” she said. “That will take more than one cup of tea, won’t it!”
“Or perhaps you would prefer coffee. Why don’t we go to the coffee shop that plays those old jazz recordings?”
So off we went.
And here is the first story she had to tell.
“As you know, when I was a child almost all marriages were arranged. When I was twenty-one years old, I came home from my job and was told by my mother that a good husband had been found for me. I wasn’t surprised to hear her say this, but I also was not happy to hear these words. I had already been wondering for some time, why it was assumed that I would have no real choice in the matter.”
“My mom showed me a high school graduation picture of my potential husband. I remember thinking he looked way too serious. As it turned out, my first impression was rather correct.”
“I was told that my parents and the boy’s parents were just beginning to engage in talks, and that I would meet the young man only after my parents had decided everything was right.”
“As it turns out, the first time I met Jiro was the day my parents said we were all meeting that evening to decide on the details of the wedding and reception. I just wasn’t ready to hear these words and I felt quite shocked and lonely.”
“We all met, and it was hard to know who felt more ill at ease. Me or Jiro. I remember doing my best to smile as I said “Yes” whenever my opinion was asked.”
“We were married several months later.”
“On our way to our honeymoon my husband carried our two suitcases and was careful to hold doors open for me and let me go first.”
“On the way home, I carried both the suitcases, and my husband walked ahead of me, never bothering to hold the door.”
“What else can I say? Most of my marriage was conducted in the very same fashion. Such was often the case for young Japanese women in my day.”