Love Blossoming and Roaring 花咲かせ叫ぶ(おらぶ)愛

The day after my grandma's funeral (it was held on June 10, 2020; I attended virtually), I felt like calling my grandma's landline, knowing that she would not answer.

I just wanted to pretend to call her. Also, I knew that her landline would be canceled, so I wanted to call the number one last time. I listened to the same, usual ringing tone, thinking she would have answered the phone only a few days ago. 

Everyone, who called her, knew that you had to ring it for a while to give her enough time to get to the phone. So, it was my custom to listen to the ringing tone for some time. As I listened to it, I could vividly imagine her voice answering, "Hello?" 

Then, to my surprise, the ringing sound ceased, and a man's voice said, "Hello?" My first guess was my dad because he was there often. The day before grandma passed away, he was helping her doing some yard work. But, it did not sound like my dad, and the voice did not sound like any of my uncles, so I perplexedly asked, "Excuse me, but I don't recognize this voice. This is Akari. May I ask with whom I am speaking now?"

Then the man said, "It's me, your dad." 
"Oh, dad? Really? It didn't sound like you."
"You, too. You didn't sound like you. For a moment, I thought it was a "Me, Me" scam call." (In Japan, unfortunately, there have been incidents of young people calling older people, pretending to be their grandchildren by saying, "It's me, grandma, it's me," and asking for money.)

I jokingly told him, "This is your daughter, who passes gas around you without any hesitation." He laughed and said, "Now I know it's truly you!" (I am not sure if I like this way of verification, though :-D)

He said that he went to the grandma's house to take care of things like cooked rice, which she cooked but did not get to eat, and some laundry hanging outside. She had washed the work clothes he wore to help her the day before she died. 

I pictured him touching every item that his mother had touched only a few days ago. My heart got squeezed a little. The heart squeeze was probably also had to do with seeing myself in him dealing with the same thing someday. 

My maternal grandparents passed away when I was in my late teens. Due to lack of life experience, I don't think I was there for my mom the way I would now as a 38-year-old person. And I was too young to realistically imagine myself going through what she was going through in my near future. 

My dad and I spoke for about an hour. My dad and I usually talk once a week, but it was the longest we spoke. It was nice to talk about someone we dearly loved. 

At the end of the phone talk, painfully recognizing that people we dearly love will not exist forever, I felt the strong urge, so I followed it and told him, "Dad, I want you to know that I love you so much, and I am grateful to be your daughter." 

I started to cry as I said the first few words, feeling overwhelmed by love toward him and from him. When emotions surpass our words, tears come up. My grandma birthed my wonderful father and raised him. Then he met my wonderful mother, and they birthed me. 

As I hang up the phone, I felt theirs and my ancestors' love blossoming and roaring in my bloodstream. 

"Live! Live! Live! Love! Love! Love!" cheered and implored souls who have come and gone.

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" I cried back to their call.

Other posts about grandma:

(The photo of the phone above was taken by Alex Andrews. The photo of grandma below was taken by me.)

You can listen to this article's podcast episode at the following link. The episode number is #3.

(She was cleaning green onions.)


















Ordering Costumes and Saree 衣装とサリーを注文

This week happened to be a week to order my students' Odissi costumes and cotton saree for practice.

Two students who have been studying with me for the past 4, 5 years started wishing, "Someday, we'd like to have our costumes." We felt that the time has ripened to get one. It means a lot to have your own dance attire. One is that it means that a dancer has worked hard to the point and that she/he is committing her/himself to further learning.

I asked one of my teachers, Guru Vishnu Tattva Das of San Francisco, where/how I could get costumes (I got mine more than 10 years ago). Within five minutes of inquiry, one of his students, Mansi called me. I had met Mansi at Vishnuji's class in San Francisco before. She said that his students just placed an order, and I could squeeze in my students' order, too. What great timing! That night, I had a class with my students, so it was excellent timing in that sense, too.

Mansi sent me a measurement sheet. I printed it out and helped my students measure 16 different sections of their bodies. Then they picked two colors. Mansi sent us pictures of saree based on their color choice. Then my students chose the saree they liked. Then the order was officially placed.

Mansi has been the point of contact with tailors in Orissa (or written as Odisha) (where Odissi dance originated) in India for many years. She is from Bhubaneswar, Orissa, and speaks their language, Oriya. We were very grateful for her kindness in letting us squeeze in our order. We kept her up late until 1 am California time. (She wanted to place the order that evening to ensure that the tailors begin working on it to meet the shipping date.) Sorry to keep you so late and thank you so much, Mansi! When I apologized, she wrote back, "I am glad I could help other dancers."

My teacher, Sarala Dandekar's, and Vishnuji' have been sister/brother dance schools, so Mansi is like our "cousins." What a lovely dance cousin she is!

Also, this week, I ordered cotton practice saree for my beginner students from a company called Classical Dance Jewelry. They chose the colors they like. It is fun choosing a color. :-) They will begin dancing in saree!

For me, witnessing my students getting Odissi costumes or saree is like watching my precious children/sisters being wedded. It is touching to see. 

(Odissi dance is a temple dance, and dancers were considered married to gods a long time ago.) (I am not religious, but I respect all religions in the world, and I do believe in the source beyond, behind, and all around us.)

(Mansi just sent me the photos below. Wow, they're coming together!)













I hope to live up to her love 祖母の愛に見合えますように

(Photo by Hiroyuki Kuma at Uchikoza, Ehime, Japan)

When we hit our pinky toe against a corner of the furniture, we curl up, focus on our breaths, and disperse the pain in our mind and body, right?

Well, that's what I did for two weeks in June 2020 because my grandmother passed away.

A solid rock in my heart fell off, and there was void. When I moved, the wind blew in the hole, and it hurt. I observed myself going through this human experience called grief.

I wanted to be happy for her, for she had lived a full life, and I knew that she is now everywhere, and I can "see" her anytime. But sadness was sadness, and it had to be experienced.

As sad as I was, I was grateful for the experience as it pushed my envelope. Perhaps, it will make me better at relating to others who lost their loved ones. Perhaps, it will add a new color to my "life palette" and let me draw a new "painting."

I knew she would go someday as she was 96 years old.

In January 2020, when I saw her in Japan, I felt that her "candle" inside her was getting shorter and dimmer. I had a slight notion that it might become the last time I see her, so I hugged her and told her, "Grandma, thank you for passing your life onto me. Thank you for loving me." I’ve done it for the past ten years each time I left Japan, but I did it again with all my sincerity. 

So, I thought I had prepared myself for the finality, but when I found it out from my dad, my mind froze for a second, and it took me some time to grok what it meant.

She went while she was cleaning onions she had harvested. She was doing something she loved until the very end while she lived by herself in Japan's rural mountain. She was truly my role model and hero.

Last year, I allowed myself to take time to come to terms with her death.

Now, when I cry, it's not due to the sadness of not being able to hug her in the three-dimensional form. It is due to overwhelming appreciation toward her - the life she has passed on to me and the love she has poured over me. 

I hope to live up to her love.

You can listen to this article's podcast episode at the following link. The episode number is #2.


(Grandma and me age 2)















A New Beginning 新しい始まり

I started my blog back in 2006.

There was no Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

To stay in touch with my family and friends overseas, I relied on email. I used to think, "Wouldn't it be nice if f there was a platform where I could post photos and write, and my friends and family can go there to see what I'm up to whenever they want?" 

Then I learned that there was this thing called a blog! So, I started one.

Then in 2014, I stopped, not because I wanted to stop. I simply did not have time and could not afford to carve out time. 

In 2014, I made a fairly big decision to leave my full-time school teacher position - a secure income source. (I will write about that time another time.) I started building my own business

For the past seven years, I have put my head down and hustled. Thanks to every mentor, friend, and customer/client, my "then-baby" (a.k.a my business) has been growing. It is like the "baby" is starting to go to a preschool, and I can have a little more time to myself!

Although my business is still growing, and I have a new exciting project coming up (I will announce soon), I finally seem to be able to pop my head out of the water and breath. 

So, I decided to resume my blog. 

Although I didn't plan on it, I feel auspicious being able to start a new thing in this season filled with new lives.

(Photo above is an orchid pot given to me by my student, and it's been flowering every year - a reminder of time and growth.)

You can listen to this article's podcast episode at the following link. The episode number is #1.