Obaachan-Grandmother

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Photo by me


Kiko sat there quietly, silently trying to meditate; her attempts failing.  Taking a deep breath she tried to focus.  Her mind kept racing with thoughts of what lie ahead of her.  Never in her wildest dreams did she think she would be leaving Japan.

Today she was saying goodbye to her obaachan–her grandmother.  In three days she would be leaving.  How could she say goodbye to this person that kept her focused, at peace, grounded?  She was going to miss these times spent in silence with her.  Nowhere else could she feel this peace–the shared space of silence.

Her gaze shifted to her obaachan’s hands as they reached down and retrieved a simple rectangular box that was sitting next to her.  Memories came flooding back as she watched those hands moving slowly with purpose.  She recalled the times as a young girl as they walked through the City Arboretum.  Obediently she followed her obaachan’s slow pace, eagerly awaiting with anticipation the multiple stops as her obaachan would reach out at flowers that caught her eye, pulling it gently closer for them to mutually admire the awe of its beauty.  The feel of the gentle nudge as her obaachan’s hand, which grasped the hidden crumpled money she had tucked away from her pension, secretly searching for a pocket to slip it into.  A light smirk crossed her face as she remembered the sting from the dreaded pinch she would get if she were misbehaving within arm’s reach of those hands.  She watched the progression of age on those hands as they played Hanafuda, the flower playing card game, through the years.  She remembered the gentleness in how they held Miyo, Kiko’s daughter, when she was born, and the proud way they smoothed the front of Kiko’s kimono on the day of her Seijin no Hi–Coming of Age Day.  How was she going to remember these precious moments when she didn’t have those hands to remind her of them?

She felt her obaachan gently sit next to her, handing her the box.  She opened it and there, neatly folded, was the kimono that three generations had worn for their Seijin no Hi.  She gently stroked the silk fabric with intricate cherry blossom designs that called for you to reach and touch them.  She could feel the stinging of her eyes and the tightening of her jaw as she struggled to keep her tears from falling onto the ornate silk kimono.  The ache in her chest felt like a hole was being dug and the emptiness of her pain and sorrow was filling it.  Something caught her eye.  Hanafuda cards in a beautiful small paulownia wood box were tucked neatly in the bottom right corner, safely within the folds of the kimono.  Sobs broke from her chest with gasps in-between each one, and her tears began to flow.  She reached out and hugged the frail, thin frame of her obaachan as she continued to sob.  She felt her obaachan softly stroking her head.  “Kiko, my dear sweet Kiko,” she said to her softly, “please present this to Miyo on her Seijin no Hi.  Tell her I love her and will think of her on this day.”

“Thank you, obaachan,” she said straightening up and looking into her grandmother’s deep brown, almond shaped eyes that had let her own tears begin to stream down.  Slowly, with withered hands, she watched her obaachan wipe the tears away.

This is the second addition to our weekly “shorts.” Hope you enjoyed! Let us know what you think! 

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