Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Snow on Cherry Blossoms - i.2

5 January 1905

Snow falling on bunch up cherry branches, of midst the white blossom winter. It was a frame which looked outside the woodland picture. The snow piled up, though without wind. The house of my renting, looks out on a patch of neatly groomed forest – a shrine to the dead. As you look at it, it looks in to you – deciding whether you to will be among the honored dead. Brother looked at it, just before he left, and pronounced it a fine garden with a deeply religious shrine. He left to be attached to one of the fleets; to win glory for his Emperor and his empire. I wish I had the gift to explain it in poetry – it need a solid fact, that merges in to poetic license, as it gives down, as syllables – until the cutting word instills the season. Or says Shiki, as it snows.

Yesterday, I wore a Western style military uniform of Japan, today I am in the native clothes of the Empire – the difference between Western and Eastern in my name: Akira Ishawara, and Ishawara Akira. The Empire of the rising Sun. I remember Yokoyama visiting the somewhat small apartment that we were children in, and he spent many hours with myself and my brother telling stories about his adventures – including a samurai duel. I did not remember every word he said, but the feeling was more important – there was a laugh that covered fear in my voice, and my brother as well. But Yokoyama was entirely different – it was a laugh which conveyed respect for the other men who had not made it there last night fall. Every samurai dreams of this and dreams of it with respect. Most of them have their last poem – and a chance to recite it is valuable.

He recounted a moment when a leaderless took on 3 warriors attached to the local Lord of . While the story was truly famous, to our young ears it was new and bright as a longsword was. The ronin, the , stood his ground – holding his sword above his head, and challenging any to attack him. He did so because someone – though he did not know who – had allowed their scabbard to just hit his sword. This was inexcusable, and he immediately took a stance – because in his mind, his honor had been touched, and is whole self demanded that this was a formal duel – cleansed only with the blood of either his enemy or himself. Saya-ate, the touch was called – the scabbard strike. Unless there was a profuse apology from the man who struck his sword, it would be unthinkable to do anything but falling in to a ritual which was as old as were. It was the nature to strike back, it was the heart of their creed.

3 samurai were serving the local Lord, they could not apologize to someone who was not serving anyone – this to was not allowed. So they lined up – because if you examined their faces, one stood out as vicious, and he was the one who accidentally struck the scabbard. But he knew that his 2 companions would back him, so on are must be maintained. It was truly unthinkable for 3 lorded samurai to bend to 1 who was unloaded. Before striking each one of them called out his name – at which point the ronin did the same. Many people gathered around, including other samurai. The were in favor of the brave ronin, rather than the 3 samurai – it was after all the sense that one was taking on 3, and the fact he was doing so for no more than honor. The ronin advanced towards the man in the center, who was after all the one who had actually started things. And the Ronin new it by now.

Each step by the one was deeply planted the roadway, in a manner that an old master would have deemed sufficient in his little book. Then the samurai on the right, seeing a nod from the senior charged forward. Then the samurai on the left moved in as well – again because the senior demanded it – was not going to lead the charge, though he should have. It was at that point that the ronin sweat cleanly from left to right, taking out the 2 junior with a single stroke. Their swords flew out – but the attacker did not even look at them, instead trodding his way towards the senior. However, the remaining samurai took to his feet – almost at a run. At this point with victory all but assured, the loan ronin cleaned off his sword, and gently placed it in its scabbard. We all knew from the story that his next stop was to report to the magistrate, about the 2 who had been killed.

Brother and I felt a sense of courage from the narrator, and straightened up just a bit – as if we had just maneuvered the stroke. But a deeper sense was when I realized that when one chooses a leader, one must die for that leader – no matter how stupid it was. The original choice was clear – one had to choose the right leader, and that meant serving under anyone that he chose. In the story the 2 samurai chose badly, while the ronin by not having made a choice – had chosen well. It is better to serve with honor nobly, then serve for coin dishonorably. The lesson would be known only to the dead – because one must be dead to serve.

Narrator grew stern: “I must go now and deal with your parents, because there are things that you do not understand. But you will in time.” Then he turned to me: “You must watch your younger brother, in all ways. Because in time there will be a war, and you will not be able to watch over him at that point. He must be prepared, and that is your responsibility.” I nodded at the time, not realizing that he knew, as I did not, want a weight that was on my shoulders.

It would then learn in time, because I brother was on the fleet headed north to engage the Russians. Even now I thought that men made military maneuvers, but women knew all of the ends and outs of the people – as men knew the sharp steel of a Sabre. And on thinking about it, it may well have been the ladies who had the advantage in the choice of weapons. This because I thought about the gathering at the lady's soirée – and how the lady had deftly maneuvered everyone to their particular place, and knew to do that at a particular time to achieve a particular result. What I did not understand was what that result was – though I knew it to be important.

Glancing out over the city streets, which were captured in a doorframe. This was a Japanese house, with every piece lovingly made by a carpenter. The joints were ancient in their roots: a top held to the sides by a single wooden joint. This was Shoji – a sliding door. It framed the outside with its frozen cherry trees, and above them the Evergreen trees which scattered the land. Beyond that it was a cityscape, with wooden buildings packed together – and the ubiquitous utility poles which were still using traditional structures to hold up modern needs. Their was a confusion – nearby it was forest and garden – where has just a little ways away, Tokyo was blooming into a very contemporary city – to compete with London, Paris, and New York. I felt a swell of pride, because this had happened only in the last 50 years. And both the modern and ancient had been participants in the structure as it was. Down the city streets one could see ancient garb and modern uniforms mixed together indiscriminately. Iy. Imagining that the men held large ideas, which they had no patience with the women – after all the Imperial city was a place of men. However it seemed that in the West, women had a more subtle role in making a city fit for their use. It made me wonder how the women controlled the men, because it seemed to me that the women though they were inside, looked outside with their hearts. And instructed the men to elaborated on their design.

It is like me to believe that there was a reason why the western woman controlled the men, whereas the men postured for each other. It also implied that Nippon was destined to be the same way. A thought which was appalling in its naked splendor. Quickly I pushed out of my head, but it sat as a dragon sleeping sits – gnawing away at the air around it. Because oriental dragons do not eat the way Western dragons do.

Was it not obvious that the Russians should sue for peace? After all last year, we defeated them in Manchuria, and it would be a simple exercise to clean them out of their key landing points. But obviously the Russian Czar – Nicholas II – was not convinced, nor were any commentators accept of course the British. But the British built our ships, and thus had a keen interest in our progress. But all the rest thought that – somehow – the Russian Empire would triumph. The French call the “élan”, and pronounced the Russians were filled with more of it. But I think that is because they did not realize that one ronin would defeat 3 samurai. And the report would be filed in proper order, in the West.


Just as the various foreigners did not understand the significance of the defeat of Russia, Nor did the Japanese understand what might could be brought to bear if only Britain had wanted it. Be foreigners did they not realize that the Russians slaughtered civilians during their fight in Manchuria led the upper echelons of Japan to put distance between the Empire of the rising Sun, and everything else which was in Europe.

There was no regal nature in the West. What kind of élan was slaughtering civilians? Was there a kind of noble chivalry and spreading rumors about the “yellow peril” that gripped the average Russian infantryman? That the average European citizen believed this was an indictment of their sense of whose forces were better equipped and better trained – it was this not prattling's about élan. One would hope that the French would offer their substance against better-trained troops, such as the Prussian troops. It was so obvious that both foreigners and the popular mass of people in Japan both had misinterpretations. The only question was who would find out 1st how badly their conceptions were mislaid.

Turned from the outer view – covered with a light dusting of snow – to the inner cover compartmentalized apartment. - which was still built out of wood, unlike Tsukiji, which by Imperial decree was built out of stone. The yellow-white grasscloth was lining almost every inch of the available space – but this was normal. Even the Imperial Palace was subdivided into rooms which could hear everything that occurred around them. I was told that in the Royal Chambers of the monarchy of France – so long ago – that everything that the royal couple did was in sight of several ministers, who each had the duty to protect one or another of the accouterments that defined some aspect. As it was in European royalty so it was in Nippon.

Grasscloth was in the middle, timbers outside made of different kinds of tree, and if it did not burn down in a fit of destruction, it would be burned down intentionally. Every so often every building needed to be rebuilt in Tokyo – and indeed most of the cities in Japan. It was a ritual cleansing, that many would do. Everything which was reported to be old, was in actuality rebuilt many times. Only the floor plan of the highest buildings would be spared. Long the timbers were various forms of remembrance – masks that resembled demons, swords which had a lineage, lanterns which had once upon a time burned on a particular night. This was part of our religion, the religion of spirits. There were 3 parts: Buddha for taking the body, the Imperial ritual for preserving it, and Shinto for keeping it alive in the form of children. At which point I bowed towards the ashes of my mother and father, who died quite young and left me in charge of all that they had kept in their hands. Which was quite a bit, because my mother came from a rich family – and was offered to my father who came from a poor samurai clan. It was my mother who kept the books and managed the money. A talent that I had, and my brother did not.

Which is why he joined up in the front ranks of the Navy – because he knew that he was no good at living, so he would die for his family. This was a great honor, and no one could deny him the glory. Because the glory was unending, and life would pass as a dream. That other would wish him to live, including me, did not occur to my younger brother. He was a dutiful junior samurai – and he hoped that I would carry on the illustrious family name. I realized that I was the senior, and would have to strike down whatever ronin was in the way. The moral of the story took a different tact in my brother's mind.

Deeper into the rooms, because neither of the 2 brothers had yet to marry – and for me, that was almost frowned upon by my elder relatives. For you see, my mother having brought money, she would want me to be married and carry the line. It was from her loins that my brother knew that I would have to merry. It was almost as if the ghosts of my ancestors were in communication with each other. Remembered the face of my mother's mother quite distinctly as she lectured me on virtually everything – she was a compendium of knowledge, that very few people would actually listen to. But I did, and was introduced to the ways which we did everything in our lives. Everything from dressing ourselves to the rituals of tea.

It was in the room which had a short long table for eating, that I sat down and picked up something strange to my parents: a newspaper. Of course, it had the propaganda of the age – but it was true propaganda, though it did not exactly say where the troops were massing. But they were massing some place, and it named the Russian generals who would be skewered by their attacks. That my long focus became short did not bother me, until the Butler came in and said:

My Lord, a man who has no title wishes to speak with you, on the matter of the rent for this place. Would you like to see him?”

Rent was in arrears, but February was the time to discuss this – clearly he hoped to bring in other people, or get the money for this place sooner. The hand went into the pocket, and clinked with coin. I should not have had it today, but there was a point where I had an opportunity to collect money that was owed to me, so I could dispense it to various people that I would owe money to. Be realized again, the power that women had – because it was almost certain that I had had the opportunity because of the lady. It suddenly seemed obvious that I was one of the people who she had some sort of affinity for – though I did not know how, or even why she would take such an opportunity with someone so low on the scales.

Yes, I will see him.” This should be a because he did not just drop by – he had someone who thought I would be without the money. So not only would he be surprised, but his spy would be as well.

Shuffling off of the butler, and returning with the broker took a long minute of time – during which the room grew darker. There was a storm coming, and what is more a large storm. He could see this even though there was no opening to the outside.

The man who was brought in was a stocky thick man – moreover it was a man whose station in life was unknown – several people thought he came from the lowest class of people – burakumin, will technically it meant a “ Hamlet person”, did not was really about what they did for a living, butchering of animals, or producing leather – these type of work was considered unclean. But no one really knew what it was he did, what it was his father did, what his ancestors did – because he did not have any relics from the past, nor stories to tell about his youth. But other then his thickness and slightly smaller features which bunched on his face making it look slightly ugly – there was no reason to ascribe anything either unnatural or untoward. He came in, respectfully, and asked:

Good morning good sir, I have a matter of some delicacy to talk with this establishment, but I did not know who to talk to. If there was a wife, I would talk to her – or the eldest female.” What he meant was the person in charge of dispensing money – because, in old custom, the father would never do this – and since I was in the older clothes, it would seem that I would not dispense money as well. Which left a quandary – because there was no female to call upon. As far as he knew only too people lived in this rather small building – me and my Butler. Of course, there was no impropriety in this, but it still left a quandary. He would have tried asking the Butler if he would give a money, and have been replied in the negative. Thus he was forced to ask me if I did it myself – and the contortions from asking were noticeable, he had wedged his neck up and several times girded his neck. Because of force, he was in modern dress, and his color was far too short. It almost made comical appearance as he picked at his throat. Every time it seemed that a wedge of his neck came spinning out from his shirt.

It was almost impolite, to watch the neck spew out of his modern dress – but I had to do so because it was actually chucklingly funny. But finally I resisted any more of the comical, and eventually said: 

“If you want to ask for money, then I am the person who will dispense it. I am sorry if there was any mistake about it.” A year and a little bit more had high taken residence, during that year the initial payment from a land broker had paid – thus he did not know who to ask on a regular basis.
Then you must know the payment for this house is in arrears.” Countenance distorted, there was a long pause upon his face. My lip held slightly open, to worry his tongue – but before he could speak again, I opened my jowl:

The butler has the money for the next year, you should have come forward sooner.” I was speaking as I were different from all of the others – as if the hatred of the world was known to me but rejected as part of my image. Of course, there was money until deep into the night before. Then the solicitor's nature tugged his eyes to my servant, who had already gotten out coins for the next years rent. It would be best if the coins were scattered across the floor, and the solicitor would cast himself to catch each one. The jingle and klang of money interspersing with his cavorted greed in finding it would be amusing. But naturally the Butler did not do any such thing – instead putting the coins on the table – counting them as he did so. A century ago many of the major powers used silver – Nippon among many, including China, England, Spain, and the United States. But now money was almost entirely made of gold – with a few exceptions. Gold was indeed different – it is yellow color was only one difference. All over the world in the past generation had switched to gold, because of the mining of Africa – once there was no question but that gold should be the standard of the world. Silver had been found in a number of places, but refining of gold made it the kingdom of armies, and fleets. With armies and fleets, one could land anywhere and secure gold. But to engineer a flow of gold into the coffers of the state, meant that it had to be the standard of all things. Every transaction wanted to be in gold, and was gradually working its way to that. Rice used to be the coin of Japan, since armies were paid in it. But now we had to have armies and fleets that could bind beyond our own islands – and we had for the moment to pay other lands for the ships. While he went his own way, I stopped to think about how everything was designed to make trade and war possible, because gold made ships, and ships protected merchants. I had even heard last night about how some people in England wanted to make oil the driver of the fleet – as opposed to coal. If this was true, then the entire world would move to oil. But Japan had no oil.

I looked up, but could only see timbers and grasscloth, but in my mind, I could envision our Japanese fleet taking arms against the Russians, and the results would be the same as last year: crushing defeat for the European power. I wondered back to the opening onto the covering of snow. It seemed that the Europeans would have to admit to countries to their inner circle of power: the United States and the Empire of Japan. Obviously, the taking of Port Arthur was not sufficient – at least 2 of the diplomats assigned to Japan. I wondered what it would take – as I sat and watched the flurries mount outside, reading my manuals which were updated on the 1st day of the Western year – each page fluttering as the snow covered branches.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Snow on Cherry Blossoms - i.1

I Land of Diplomacy

The sun rises, on a world where an empire which it does not set.

In some lands, the art of diplomacy is to say nothing extremely well. In the land of civilization, writing down what passed to me was as good as any to record the events. There things that eluded – there were certain things that were beyond reasoning. But still it all, it is the best way to show the collegial nature of the hothouse that marked the cold turn of the year. It is enough to record the words which reached, even though they were not really correct...

4 January 1905

Profile was her face –I was a Japanese officer looking at a white woman; the nose is long, and aristocratic - beneath the eyes whose liquid blue was strange to me, coming from the land that the people from here called "the Orient". We did not call it that - it was just home. And a woman wore white as a mark of beauty - . She looked at the gathered people in the drawing room, in the year 1905 - a year when most still had to think to write 19 rather than 18 when drawing up a letter. It was also one of the last days to have Christmas ornaments up, for there was a strict provision among the upper classes of Britain to have them removed by the Twelfth Night.

Day was a spectacular day also for the Empire of Japan – because the word came out that we had taken the Russian Port Arthur, subjecting its officers to either go home or be made prisoners of war. Everything was turned over to us completely intact. But to imagine the circumstances you have to draw your mind back to the early when the faint embers of a distant era where still warm. When frocks and all the other signs of horse and buggy whip were still on everyone's lips. That hordes of young Russian soldiers and sailors had been agreed to be removed marked a victory – of the leaders, of the warriors – but most importantly because of the leadership.

But it was not talked about loudly, only in soft whispers. everyone looked at the lady of the house. The woman herself seemed to stare only for a moment at every man or couple for just a moment, seemingly to reinforce that she was like everyone else – that she too was of this past moment. But looking at her eyes, the way he did, would belie this notion: because rather than a dull maneuver of cold bright eyes, hers danced with a gay remonstrance of protest, which one could see underneath her veil. She was covered with black from skull to feet with only jewels which were opalescent or viridescent. But she hid her eyes, leaving only a glance to each that those who did not know her would think she was of the patrician class which ruled Britannia.

Everyone knew better than this, not because of personal learning mind you, but because he had inside information which detailed that she was brighter than she looked – or rather, she hid how she looked to the masses, whether plebeian or patrician. It was my hope that Japan would be numbered among the great powers, and this victory over the Russians was to be part of that. But for the moment everyone stared at her, and the power which she represented. She ignored this, because, after all, just because one had breeding and status did not mean one was gifted with the keen eye or elite beau monde of intelligence. So he observed how she would only cast a glance at each individual or couple, hiding behind her shroud. The diplomatic officer, of course, would cast his eyes over the entire multitude – whispering sweet nothings that his emperor's government had selected. Because, Britain and Nippon were in fact secretly allies, but the official line was that they were neutral. This was, of course, a lie, which she actively participated in – because she was in fact in the employ of the Foreign Office. But this was known only to a view people, of which both she and he were both members. Because while he could not hide the intelligence of his eyes, this was still a time when his countenance could easily disguise his superior intelligence. At home, he was fourth in the top of 東京帝國大學, the Imperial University of Tokyo, or as it was known to the inhabitants of the island emperor's chain. But this would not be known of in the present, Westerner's, company – because they would only see a man who was dressed in black and had nothing to suggest that he was anything out of the ordinary.

20 or so people to convey their condolences to the lady - some had left, while some were taking their time getting here and had not arrived, while it was obvious that some remembered him by well, with some reminiscence of what a fine man the recently deceased husband was. Though it was obvious that from the age gap the married pair, it was probable that it was a marriage of convenience – he defined lust, and she to provided and settle down with a large inheritance after he was dead. This was entirely proper for this day and age. He was married before and had two children which were almost the same age. And though no one talked about it, neither the children or the mother talked to one another. This was also appropriate to this time and place.

Room was brightened by the fact that it had been redone just a short while ago in the new mode: in England it was called “Art Nouveau”, but there were a myriad of different names in different countries. What is most important about it was the curve to all of the lines, and a certain jouyssance and a sense that the art style was total in its makeup, no detail whether architecture, interior design, or jewelry should be out of character. There were pieces of furniture from the 19th century, but they were relics of the past. So from the gilt bronze adornments to the wall cabinets made in the new style, the mode was new, not old. This was to be taken as her gift to her husband, showing the modern style of his new wife. She sat on a long chair, resting beneath a very long mural composed of a satyr and a nymph squatting down while he played a tune on a lilting blend of pipes. Thus it was odd to be decked out in an older fashion of dress, while the room said that it was modern. If this was unusual no one said anything.

Though people did not say they were broken down into two groups, this was exactly what happened. The there were British, American, French, and German speakers all gathered around each other. In a what could only be described as a faction, over to the side, were a trinity of Frenchmen speaking there own language, about what appeared to be a dispatch in the right-hand corner of L'Echo De Paris which openly questioned whether the United Kingdom was in fact neutral, and that the Republic of France knew this, and was trying to attain assurances that Britain would not engage against its ally, Russia. In the Journal, it was openly suggesting a more forceful approach to his Majesty's government. Of course, at a funeral for a distinguished gentleman – the husband of the woman – it would be impolite and impolitic to raise such an because making de rigueur what was known inappropriately by glancing at a journal.

Come now, monsieur, you must speak in English, because everyone will want to know what is engaging the three French officers so delightfully. They would think it a monumental secret which they are not entitled to know.” Her face was glittering with the ornaments of the Christmas tree, which she was enrobed from his position.As was the usual custom, there were candles on the Christmas tree, because the use of electric lights had not gone in to fashion as yet. At once the lady had made a pronouncement, while her azure eyes were fixed on the eldest French gentleman, who it was obvious was the leader of the three. And the Frenchman turned to look at her directly, as was his custom, unlike a military man who would be stiff and formal, he was more fluid in his nature.

The man who she was addressing was a trained diplomat, who had served underneath all range of political leaders, he was devoted to France of whatever leadership could forge a government in the turbulent Third Republic. He was tall, thin, with a mustache which was then and by this point white – and a face which oblique to what he actually felt. He had a full head of hair, but he paid it no attention, as if it were normal for a man his age to have one. He was also, once known to all involved, rather fluid in his alliances – as if it someone whose main focus was to gain loyalty for France on whatever course she had said her so on. It was not his decision what was to be done, only to carry it out with such zeal as he could muster. Which while not as much as he originally felt towards his native royalist leanings, was still a great deal more than most people could have managed on any particular day.

We are sorry, we were talking about some trivia in one of the French newspapers. We shall not be given again on these sorry tidings, where are concern is for your beloved husband.” His voice was cold and his accent betrayed only a little bit of his native language – which was proper for a diplomat, because in actuality his English was flawless, but there was a semblance to maintain, that France was a trifle superior, even if it was not the case. It was a point of pride for such Frenchman, but it was also not truly the case. Something that the Frenchman, the lady, and the Japanese gentleman all new to well. France was a paper tiger in fact, though not yet in name, because it was the birthplace of the last great conqueror – Napoleon – and the last great buffoon – Napoleon the Third.

The war between Russia and Japan is going badly for Russia, n'est pas?” As you know my French is not my strong point: ”We in Japan are celebrating victory – though the is one more campaign to go.” There was more to say, but at that point I was cut off by a diplomat, who noticed that the lady of the house was not amused by the direction of the conversation. Though he did not entirely make sense, his intention was to take the stage and run with it – even if he fumbled slightly in his entrance.

Their had been a brief reference to this, yes. But as we said, we shall speak no more about it – because your Majesty's Government has pleaded to be neutral.” Not a trace of any movement betrayed what he was feeling on the inside, he was totally reserved as was the custom among diplomats. And above all he was a diplomat to the core – it was inbred through many years and many generations. It was also the case that a person on the other side was standing just a few feet away from her – that is the Japanese diplomat, who suddenly received a whirlwind of scrutiny from all apparent. But he betrayed nothing of what he was feeling, and other than his eyes, he seemed rather monotonous. Nor did he betray the actual thing that was questioning his own mind, and that is why did she make an issue of this now? It was not the sort of thing that one would ask in polite company, on the contrary, one should have avoided this at all cost, seen as it was a formal occasion, with no hint of politics or any sort of official business. Then he spied the Japanese diplomat, and realized that 4 Russian gentlemen had just left, so obviously she had sprung a trap after the Russians left. He noted that, and put it in his deep file.

Was it something to do with the very rare picture on the front page on the 2nd of L'Echo? Of the frontline between the Russia and Japan? Is there use from St. Petersburg on the Japanese capture of one of their to basis.” Her lips turned upward, though the French diplomat did not know why; until he raised and eyebrow and with and almost imperceptible nod came to realize that the one odd face in the group was the one person who he did not know. He then guessed that the face did not belong to an individual from China, but one who was drawn from the northern part of the park – Mongolian, Korean, or Japanese. He stared to the face of this – to him – extraordinary face, and for the first time examined in detail the hues and contours which reflected deep below his features, a man. Since the French diplomat was not an ordinary man, he was not in any way in all of the yellowish cast of the skin, that being the detail which he tossed aside – unlike many of that time and place. Instead he looked beyond any form of what people in his time called “race”, to form a deeper impression. Though what that impression was could not be divined by an outside observer. But what could be said was that the French gentleman gained a new respect for the Japanese diplomat, because he knew that they were all on the same side – of the side of gaining trust and manipulating favor through the art of words. And this was a very large thing indeed. The French gentleman would also note that the lady – while looking like the contrary – was actually a very astute observer, because even to glance at L'Echo was a sign that she knew Parisian French quite well. He would not make that mistake again; he was here for remembrance of the dead man, but now he kept his eye on the lady, because even in the feminine form an adversary was still potent. In fact more so, because of its alluring form. This to was an adaptation of those older days, when most men thought nothing of the fairer sex.

Amidst the Christmas ornaments strewn around the room, a triangle was developing of the English lady, the French diplomat, and the Japanese gentleman – that would grip the three of them in a tight little bow, and how it would develop only fate would know. Because, after all, most cultures will admit that faith is also of the fairer sex. And the French diplomat knew this all to well.

My point of view - that she had arranged this conflict, but he knew that the purpose of this was to draw them together, not split them apart. But he also realized that this would be opaque to the French gentleman. He flicked his eyes over this gentleman, and wondered if this would be a sound way to introduce the two of them, with all of the bystanders. But he knew that this was also part of her plan, and he knew that no one would assuage her desire. Because underneath all of the trappings, he knew that she was a woman of intense desires – both in government, in business, and in bed – though the last he would have to take the word of several gentlemen who had had the attention.

Crept up on everyone involved that there was a intense clash between the lady and the French diplomat, as if they were measuring each other, and trying to find out who was the dominant character. On one side the French diplomat was male, which counted for a great deal, on the other hand, the lady was both stern and in her own element – this was, after all, her domain. Then gradually the French diplomat eyes rolled down in his head as he graciously bowed to the lady. And it was not just for the sake of it, he was showing submission to her. Which she graciously accepted, with a small nod and bend of the head. All at once the rest of the gathering chimed into noise, because they had seen that the French diplomat had bowed his head and made a hesitation which was all he needed to do. And everything about the conversation was about anything but the trial between the two, there would be recompense later, of course, but for now each person would hold in their head a distinct view that was completely their own, pronounced in their own particular way and in the language that they enunciated with. But each one had one thing in mind – a persistence that the lady had one the battle, but the war between them – as between the Russians and the Japanese - was as yet undecided, at least formally. It was for anyone to guess which war would be over first, one could take a fair piece of action on both sides pitting components of the to – it would be roughly even now that the Russians were not involved. Of course dvoryanstva would object to such a demeaning figure, and they would maintain that Russia would be the winner over the Oriental foe which had taken the field against them. But when looking at them concretely, the amount of land – there principle object of attention – was going down from a peak of 9/10 of all, to roughly 6/10 of all, and seemed to be going down sequentially from their. And without land they controlled nothing. And they knew that, quite well.

Interesting was that a tall Englishman came up to speak to the Japanese diplomat, and immediately inquired what he thought of the way Englishmen dealt with tragedy. “It must be unusual for you to observe the etiquette of this for land.” It was my honor to speak with him, not yet 30, looked at his new interlocutory, and tried to remain bland – has the diplomat had been.

Not at all, in fact it has a deep resonance with the way we commemorate the same feelings. Perhaps it is because this island and ours are separated from one each would call the continent.” He betrayed nothing of his content for this mannered display. And he thought of the ritual that would occupy the customs back and home, most particularly many warriors would be taking their own lives in a ritual of seppuku, which for men involved cutting open the gut, and with great grace turning a sword left than right and left again, and finally up. They would also write a poem in classic style. It was nothing like the gathering that the lady displayed. But he was polite, and it not say any of this to the tall English gentlemen. “I do not believe I have caught your name, while mine is long, you may call me Daichi, with the family name of Ishikawa.”

You will forgive me if I mispronounce your name, because while I speak many languages – all of them are what we call Indo-European and thus are related in some manner, while yours is unrelated to these and I must be forgiven for taking a little bit of time to remember it.” His white mustache ebbing and dripping as said this. He then pronounced the last name rather badly – sounding something like Ishagawa – rather than Ishikawa. But he was sincerely trying, so the Japanese diplomat gave him an encouraging nod. The Englishman then launched into his real objective: “I was wondering if you, and if possible your wife – in you have one – would like to spend and evening at the place that my wife and myself maintain here in town.” It was obvious that the Englishman maintained at least two houses, one in the Metropolitan landscape – and another in a more rural setting, being rich enough to do so in his homeland. “You can call me Earl of Lansdowne, or simply Lord Lansdowne.” By the way the Englishman said the title, the Japanese diplomat knew it must be important, though he would have to look up just how important it was. There was a Japanese house of lords, of course, but it had only been recently establish by Ito Hirobumi, largely imitating the Great Kingdom model, thus it was not as important. But he knew that it was important in England, because he had served under both liberal and conservative governments, and was always in the mix of important people, especially in the foreign affairs sphere – he would not be a man to cross with. And the Japanese man saw beneath the façade of the men, a cold and impartial stare, as if the Japanese man were a monkey. Then the realization that this man was secretary of state for foreign affairs exonerated itself, and the manners that the Japanese gentleman took on a renewed vigor, since the English was both older and more senior and held in greater esteem.

Bowed, but remembered that I should only execute a flourish rather than a true deep bow, because the Englishmen had a distinct set of flexion which was distinct from the Japanese way of doing things. Which would more characteristically be said to be obeisance then anything else, where as the English manner was more in the way of genuflection – a distinct point of difference if you knew your way around different manners. And both of them did – and then promptly ignored me, seeking instead the diplomats' point of view.

While his approach had been formal, there was more than a hint of gruff gravel to his voice, which when stirred could lash out into everything but excrescence in its scope, and perhaps even that would be ordained if necessary. The Englishman was a hard man, with hard experience, and ruthless means of attaining what he wanted. And the I recognize this, though many years his junior.

Japan, not Europe – the land of the rising sun. Because we were in the diplomatic quarter of Tokyo.
Outside the walls of this building, the positions were completely reversed. Out there people talked of nothing else that the victory. The people were whipped up in 2 a froth about the courageous troops – likened to samurai. The Russian fleet had been annihilated over the last month, and now the Army had made strides in subduing the Russian masters. In the walls, news would come only very slowly – where as outside the newspapers of Japan were celebrating. This was the spirit of the age – where people received the news only in their own language, and with the point of view of their own government.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Fon d'parikulur - Tranblemanntè 12 janvye 2010 nan peyi Ayiti– The day of the quake - III


Hills and valleys, towards the east of the capital – where dotted out the large mansions and the entourage of small buildings where lived the servants to the men who own them. There was a route between Haiti and Santa Domingo. It was a route that was paved only part of the way, though it had been planned to finish the entire way with asphalt. But you know how it is, corruption was more important than completion. Here there was life abundant, and only a few dots of home. Spread out from the main route were roads which were unpaved as dust was – unpaved because it was somehow natural for them to be unpaved. But between the dust and asphalt that man had made, between the stucco buildings and less graceful wooden shacks – there was green palms and yellow green stalks of grass.

It was there that Jules and her driver were caught by the quake. Here it was different from a developed area -the ground shook, and almost immediately. The wave that was the tremor grew stronger than anyone had imagined, except of course it had been imagined and warned by seismologists. But no one had really listen to them, because they warned when their was not any noticeable difference. Warning when there is no difference in warning when the difference strikes immediately, are 2 very different things. This is because, what exactly are you going to do? Many people cannot move from the island, or even move to the other side. And being stuck on the island means there is only one thing to do – build things stronger. However that requires money, money that they do not have for building – when there are so many pleasures now that can be had. All of this means that when the quake comes, people will die. But life span is short for most people anyway, so machwe won?

Road rumbled, trees shivered, and everything was whipped about from side to side. Then there was a loud crackle and the roaring slow down - and stopped. Immediately on Jules mind was the thing which all people not affected thought: when our the aftershocks coming? Because after a big earthquake there will be repeated tremors, and probably within the 1st day several will be large enough to do more damage. This is why, if they could, they sleep outdoors. The driver felt that out-of-doors was the only place to sleep after a massive quake. Little ones did not matter. They had them all the time. All. The. Time.

Big ones meant the focus of attention was the aftershock, because they would be coming. Not immediately, that not being the way – but soon. Every second meant the possibility had died down, until there was a moment when it would grow greater again. When every second meant a greater possibility. The mind of humans was attuned to the nature of Nature.

Chaos clears way to xaos – which like “gas” - comes from the same root in Ancient Greek, but means something completely different. Because chaos is random disorder, gas is the evaporation of liquids and solids – a new sort of order out of disorder - but xaos is disrandom order such as the set of Mandelbrot. After a few times through, there emerges seahorses scurrying along the defined path. And that is the same way with the earthquake - 1st there is a kaleidoscope of shaking which has no order – but if one survives that - and the bumping of bricks – a new kind of habitat has come in to being. The ones who 1st arrive at this – are the ones who intended to do evil before. This is because evil is so much easier to do when all things have to reassert their order. It will take time for police forces, and hospitals – and all of those other things that require thought. But to stab a knife into someone requires no foresight at all. The town blooms with terrible white smoke, filled with screaming – and already there are those who decide that certain people should have died, and they will make sure of that.

Shaking of everything that was still attached, and people running, there are those who plan to move quickly quietly and steadily towards their new goals. But this wakes an entirely different group of people, people who want to help – and realize that there are those that want to hurt. And the people that want to hurt have only a few minutes to affect their disinterested rage upon whoever is there target.
Jules was one of those who wished to help, and on the curb of the dusty dirt road – could see that there was a motion. Motion aforethought. And instinctively they knew that that would mean evil.

Instinctively, she moved her head in every direction, and their was only the driver visible. But invisible was someone else in the tall weeds. As if she had been driven to this place – and in a moment of wild madness, she realized that that was the truth: she had been dispatched here to be killed. Only before the earthquake there was a plan, that now needed to be thought a new. If she was a normal person, this would have been easier – she would get just the standing and then there would be a slit from a dagger. And then in the minutes time she would be dead – or at least on the way to that state. Unfortunately for everyone involved – she was totally aware. She was seeing in all directions, and calculating which direction would be the greatest danger.

Eyes stopped, her face stopped, and the body gradually moved into a gradual erectness – because in her eyes was the one person who she could not bear – Jon le Bon. As soon as her eyes fixed on him, his smooth voice became garrulous: “You know I was hoping that you would not see me, it would have been so much better to strike from behind.” there was no pity in his voice, though it was soft in a different way. He was dressed in short black pants and a short white shirt, and around his leg was a tire which he had rolled up beside him. In his shirt pocket was cigarettes, of a foreign nature. Oddly, she could see through the white that there was a camel logo. Her brain cast up a No. 5.

“Where you always going to kill me?” Though the answer was obvious.

“Yes of course – I just realized that I could have some fun first. You cannot tell me that it was not pleasurable for you. I just had to wait for your movements to be just so – that way you would open up to me – whether you wanted to or not.” The other thing that happened with his voice – was the talkative nature was underlined. Presumably because he had nothing left to fear. Somewhere back in the distance the driver was hurrying back down towards the town – he had delivered his victim, but did not want to see the result.

“How did you know that the driver would be the man who I used for gathering up?”

“Oh, that is easy – you used him the same way many times. I just needed to grease his palm, and he was ever so willing to oblige. He does not really like you you know, because of all sorts of reasons – but mainly because you are a woman – and he does not like taking orders from your sex. It is undignified, unrefined, and shameful.”

Most men thought this way – because all of the important work was done by men but documented by women. This annoyed almost all men to distraction. The writing of pens was anathema to their unequaled purpose: why did anything need to be documented before it was done? Actually they knew the reason: because mistakes were made, and such things as a quake made things visible. One thing that Haiti had not learned was the range of corruptness which could be allowed, they were still hit or miss on this concept.

“So you wanted some pleasure before getting to your work, is that it?” Rumbles in her eyes grew angry.

“There are things that need to be done, and people like you should leave them to professionals to do them.” He was blasé and this – it then became clear that emotion was not his strong point, except for himself.

“Why take supplies from the injured?” A note of plaintiveness tried to infect her voice – but it failed, because she knew why.

“Now look what you may give me do, I have to turn off my music.”A click on his jeans. “There is more to be made selling them to those who have more money. And it is money that talks, so even the foreigners say. Aside from that, the UN was cleaning up the mess it had made, itself. There was little enough good being done. All that would have to happen is that the UN needed to place more emphasis on Haiti – and what is bad about that?”

Wheedle tone quicked his voice, especially the long sentences which she knew was his way of convincing himself – and the person who he had met to take the contract, who smoked a different kind of cigarette, and in great profusion. There was an air of tobacco from Syria and Turkey – she knew this because she had dated for a long time smoker who had this exact scent.

Explaining, again to himself, because she was not going to be there for long. She could see a long lighter in his left hand- which was for cigarettes and cigars - and the motions that he made were to light it. She was to be necklaced. In her mind she felt the tire over her head – and the terrifying way that the fire from it would catch on her face, neck, and shoulders. Terrified she thought about running, but something gave that away and he spoke again:

“There is no point in running, I am strong enough to throw the tire anywhere that can get to.” This was true, she did not know how she had gotten out of the car, or moved such a long way. But that is the point about tremors – the gap from the moving is always longer than it seems.

While he was thinking that it was time to swing the tire – something happened. The cause was behind him – and she could only guess it is source. A 2nd tire came up from behind him, and wrapped its way around his neck – at the same time he lit the long lighter on his tire. There grew up a flash of light and heat, making an explosion around his head. At 1st she could not see anything but the eruption of gas about him. It made a crackling noise, and then a hiss as it caught fire on every part of his body.

Melting about him were the two tires, with steel treads finally lighting – which meant that they had more than just a butane stick. But the fire prevented her from seeing who brought this man down for a time. She finally rubbed her eyes, and saw the person who necklace Jon le Bon. It was a familiar figure – mamba. The rich ripe figure who was the least expected person to be there.

Then she realized, that as Jon le Bon had his spies, so to did the leader of the ritual. As the conflagration finally had down Jules saw mamba in a different aspect. She realized that there was a purpose to mamba searching – she realized that Jon le Bon had been by her home quite recently. And she guessed that anything that she had seen in his movements was trivial for mamba to divine.

Minou coin – catty-corner or kitty-corner – was the only way between mamba and the body, between the ditch. Barrabas grew in among the stalks of cane – it was a low growing bush, often planted to mark the boundary between to owners. Beyond that there was fallow land, though it might be in season later this year. After that were trees of various sorts, but all showed the signs of being transient – they had sprung up very recently. She bounced her way away from the tire despair body, and just a way from the poisoned blush. Then she was confronted with the woman who guided spirits.

Rotund was putting it mildly, though she had curves rather than being merely fat. A top her meaty frame were a pair of large breasts, and her face was plump, though she could see how many men liked that as well. Everything about her was in proportion – her lips, her cheeks, even her eyelashes dwarfed everything about Jules.

“How did you know that I was going to be here? How did you know any of this was going to happen?”

“Did not know anything except that the little man would be here, and that he would do anything necessary to finish the job. Though, it seemed quite likely that you would be here as well.”

“Was it just because he came? Or was it more than that?”

“Anyone could see that you were in the way. You wanted to be full – pregnant. If I recognized it, so had others. And his eyes were sharp in that way.”

“There are too many coincidences for this to be the only thing you know.”

“That you work for the government, but not on the paycheck – that is easy. That he is fraph is also easy. That you were the one he was looking for, required nothing other than noticing who was in a car. All of the things that you think are coincidences, are easy to spot once you know who the man is interested in. Then there was the hospital, everyone talking about what they think they know. Once you know that the man is going to be someplace, then it is not hard to have a driver follow him. And that will make a guess become real – n'est pas?” The last phrase was in impeccable French.

Shame came to Jules' face. She realized that if she was going to continue to ply the trade, she would have to recognize that every moment was full of meaning.

“So why have you done this?”

“Because my people suffer from cholera, and the man who you are helping is among the carriers of secrecy. I have seen him working the digging, and passing out money to some individuals – even before I knew his name, I knew he was part of the corrupt group of foreigners, though in this partikular case he will be helping my people.”

“Do you know who sent me? Or is that too obvious?” Pensando, pensando. Por lo que mas tu quieras.

It came out as a small laugh - Quizas. Quizas. Quizas. “Alix is your handler, and I have known him since he was small. There is nothing to this, if you know who is using strings to benefit. This is not a large country, the way the US is. It is a small country, with small elites, and thus everything remains small. Most of the countryside is involved in little schemes just to make money. Which is why places that collect cholera move in groups – because the same village will settle in the same neighborhood. Cholera in the city, means an outbreak in its corresponding village.This tells one who caused it.”
Estas perdiendo el tiempo. Her head hung down, the endless conspiracy. “It seems as if I have no power.”

“You have actual power, though you do not use it.” And was a hint of grandmotherly smile. The glisten of strings from far away, in a town gone and forgotten. As if played in a soundtrack, or perhaps – perhaps – perhaps – an echo.
“So, what do I want?”

“Almost all the men merely want what all men everywhere want, almost all of the women want children to raise. If you want something else then you have to decide to want it. Your friend over there,” She pointed at the body. “wanted to kill things, and he did until he himself was killed. I would say he had a good life, is short as it was.” The laughing started, and then abruptly halted. “What is it you truly want?”

Though she admitted that tobacco was off her list - and she therefore hated all smokers, because she had been one herself, Jules hesitated, because she knew what it was though she could not describe it. On her mind, but without words – until at last she rasped:

“These are the days of wine and cigarettes.”   

Monday, February 19, 2018

Fon d'parikulur - Tranblemanntè 12 janvye 2010 nan peyi Ayiti– The day of the quake - II


16:53, as the clocks registered it– what people were working had left or had begun to think about leaving. But then came the earthquake. In a land of many earthquakes, this was The. Many people called it “Goudu Goudu” - because of the shaking of the buildings – and whispered that it was someone in the US that wanted to destroy this land. Even as they tripped other thought dark things.

Seconds to react: and then the walls and floor come. A few seconds where light debris falls and then all is chaos. If you are in a building, you have roughly half a minute to get out – otherwise your chances will be determined by Bondye – and they will not be good. Everything about the earthquake goes to extremes, and very few people have experienced an earthquake quite like this. But in the capital they knew it was an earthquake, on like many places which would at first shrug there shoulders. They knew in their bones, in their belly, in the windpipe, that it was up from the earth. The place where demons live, the place where the supreme creator plays a vast joke on man. On one moment, it is man's chaotic but orderly world. In the next moment, it is pure destruction.

People running through the streets, most of them with black jeans and colorful T-shirts, without a name on them. The balls of play are, dropped. The children run scattered and mothers look for them. In the official buildings, all the guards run out. But it is in the poorest sections of town where the damage hits hardest – suddenly there are streams of water from every crack in a house. Suddenly you realize that the mice and rats left just a half a minute before – and they had a reason to do so. People were pushing into doors as quickly as possible, because they knew that very soon the doors would be piles of junk to hinder their progress. Only the people who have not experienced it – those foreigners who have not felt it – stand around and gaze at the buildings. Everyone else is a flurry of motion, intent on getting outside as quickly as possible.

Two minutes, the shock is over. Then the torturous process of finding a way out begins, often by throwing out everything that is in your way and sticking a hand out and crying for some form of help. That is if there is anyone who can help, but often there are only people running away or who are in need of help themselves.

Help is the recovery refrain. M'aidez. M'aidez. Which is why Mayday is the word for help over the radio.

Cadence of a language, whether it is called a dialect, a kreyol, or a tongue that defines the way it is spoken. Whether it is understandable or not to anyone outside – Cockney, Pasisian, or the differences between Mandarin and the dialect of Beijing. Each one has their indefinable sense of being spoken well. But in the midst of pain, the cadence descends to a guttural drawl – and eventually almost all languages become the same – with only variance in the ways that they interact in the voice. So it was with an earthquake – all of the languages condensed into a wale of pain. Pain that has a first-person, 2nd person, and 3rd plural. I am in pain, you are in pain, the world is in pain.

Groping out the sides of buildings comes white for the T-shirts, and black for the skin. With tiny beads of white for the eyes. Clawing. Groping, until they fade out to whispers. And then silence. Never to be heard from that person again.

Entire town as capital was correct in a sacrosanct correction – is everyone realized that man was not always in charge here. There was still nature to be reckoned with. And nature was angry, or so it appeared to the inhabitants. A Rumble of white cast over Port-au-Prince, enveloping everything – from government buildings to blocks where the poor lived. From industry, shipping, and the few shops which made actual things. It was white because everything was made of concrete and plaster, and most things of any size were white before paint was mixed in. and the change hung over everything after the quaking was done.

How many died on that day? If it was an accident, one injury can be managed, and survived. 10 injuries needed to be triaged. But 300,000 just had to be aghast, with burial creeping into the consciousness - a source of employment which was not to be discussed – merely done. The story of a few people, is given over to an epic, an epic of mass destruction. No movie captures the scope – because in reality nature has its own pause and rise – which is different from the pause and rise of a person, or different from a group of people. Nature does not have feelings.

It was gone, and the stories that were being told started again. But started with an ellipse...

The signal mark of destruction - buildings, cars, cats, and people. Especially people. Important people – such as the Archbishop of Port-au-Princes. And political figures such as the leader of the opposition. There were many who would be known only to those who survived. Some would not be remembered by anyone because entire families had perished from the earthquake, or the aftermath. Fortunately there was no power in much of the afflicted areas – there was no fire that took hold.

That which happened before, no longer picked up – it was a different place entirely, with screams and moans, sigh of relief.

In a room, on a floor, in a building, which the doctor worked in, there was commotion, and then devotion, both to Mon Dieu, and other darker powers. The doors became exhilaratedly crammed - as every person became a body which had only one instinct - to survive, to move out of a room - and on to the street. But this required the rush of people into the corridors. They were banging into both the walls and each other, crying out for air, crying for Manman nou – Either to rescue, or 2 and the suffering which had torn the brink of day from brink of day
But in the room, there were 2 people talking, when the shaking of the earth started. Each of them knew that the 1st thing to do was to look around and make sure that nothing was quite fall upon them. There was terror on their faces – bien sur - but in each of their minds was a kind of calm that came from an inner reserve - which came from a life which does that it may end in a will of the wisp. What the doctor noticed, was that the UN diplomat had the vestiges of calm beginning to come over his face. That meant that the UN diplomat had been in these situations before - and was struggling to take control of his mind, his brain, is body. While every one else - or nearly so - was panicking, wailing, and running - the UN diplomat was not doing any of those things. He did not yet have control, but it was coming.

The doctor looked inside himself, and the same process - more slowly - was taking place. The mind acts rationally with a such people - diplomat and doctor - and in that shorts space of time when the earthquake bloomed into full flower - a realization came. Each new the other one was different from almost all of the other people. Outside, in the corridor, there were people trying to rush out - to get to safety, to get somewhere anywhere everywhere nowhere. Inside the new that such an old building had survived catastrophes before, and would probably do so again. In any event, rushing to be part of the throng would not help anyone.

So while plaster fell from the ceiling, and file cabinets were flown to the floor - the 2 men were relatively unheard - a large chunk of plaster had hit the UN diplomat, but it left only a scratch.

Circumstances were such, that the only thing they really wish to talk about could not be set. Cholera was known about, from before the beginning. Eventually someone would contract it and spread it over all of the developments - until a blood test found that out. This could not be talked about, because the UN diplomat would not answer precisely. They were admitted into a secret society, whose membership could not say what was the only thing that kept them in business.

Oh how he wished, like a player in Sophocles, to stretch forth upon the wide stage, and deliver a grand soliloquy. But the problem was, that he knew he was not the player who would say this. Instead his mind turn to Jules - because if she were alive, she would be the one to tell individuals, in her way.

“1st we must help the victims, and then find our way to Jules.”

Nod, was all that came from the diplomat. There was the unsettled calling in the Doctor voice – which held a deep whisper, like the echoes of memory of union, which touched – as surely as the must be – by the strains of forgotten hands and distant chords. In his heart Dr Kenold knew the she was not for him, even though he wanted her.

Why, you might ask? Because their minds did not touch, and he knew his body did not appeal.