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FOR THOSE WHO LOVE MUSIC Concepcion E. Valdez

12 Dec

1 It might have been his sword, the one that Brother brought down from the hills. It still glitters, in spite of the many months it knew no polish. It still bears the courage of him who had it hanging at his side.

 

2 He was tall and straight and good-looking, but he was Japanese, and we were afraid. His garrison was just opposite our home, and we were supposed to be a “conquered” people, so we had to let him in that morning.

 

3 “Good morning, daraga,” he said.  I looked back. A Japanese officer stood at the door. I was afraid, but I kept my poise. I returned his greeting, “Good morning.”

Then he came in and seated himself on the sofa.

 

4 “Please play.” He motioned to the piano. I had moved away, ready to call for help. My two sisters came down presently. He stood to greet them.

 

5 “Please play. I like to listen to music,” he said again. It seemed he felt that we wanted to get rid of him.

I played all right. Even enemies have a right to a little music.

 

6 He was a courteous listener. I knew he didn’t understand the selection but he clapped his hands after I was through, and said several times: “Very goodto, very goodto.”

 

7 I said arigatu. It was one of the three words I knew of the Japanese language.

“Please play ‘Longing for Home,” he said. I looked at him for a while. Where could he have picked up that title?.. Then I played. It might have been his sword, the one that Brother brought down from the hills. It still flitters, in spite of many months it knew no polish. It still bears the courage of him who had it hanging at his side. .

 

8 “In Japan, the cherry blossoms, all flowers now,” he said. “When I come back Japan, my mother very happy. I have not seen my mother for a long time.”

 

9 We looked at one another, the girls and I. We did not say anything. He stayed a little while sitting by himself, while we looked over a magazine which belonged to him. Then he stood up, saluted and was off with a sayonara.

 

10 He came again after that to listen to a little music. His name was Hatokiyama. He was a captain. He came from Tokyo and was educated at the Tokyo University. He was very courteous and he walked with a dignity that made you look back to be sure he was a Japanese.

 

11 “No, I am not in favor of war. I am a Christian. I like peace. But I fight for my Emperor,” he said. “In Japan, the Emperor comes first, mother, father, children.” He looked sad but giving each word an emphasis that made you feel his deep feeling for his Emperor.

 

12 And he sang songs. Sad, beautiful Japanese songs that made you think of a garden, of yama and cherry blossoms sadly bowing over ruined walls. And we wondered how a country that could produce music as beautiful as this song, where delicate flower bloomed, where courageous-looking men like this soldier lived could be so merciless.

 

13 We were no longer afraid of him. He asked no questions. It was only for the music that he came once in a while. Now and then, we would ask him “silly” questions that could have brought us to the garrison, but he would only smile or answer us with dignity.

 

14 He went to church every afternoon before the Angelus. “I pray to God everyday. He will help my Emperor,” he said. He never thought of himself.

 

15 There were moment when he would just stare into space. Maybe he was thinking of home. Maybe he were thinking of the cherry blossoms in their garden, of Suzuki, his sister, plucking them and putting them before the shrine.

 

16 “My sister Suzuki sent me sakura,” he said. There was a pressed flower, a delicate pink, which might have looked pretty in its freshness.

 

He liked to talk of Japan. He liked liked to talk of home, of his mother who did not cry when he said sayonara, of cherry blossoms, and he liked to draw his sword in the moonlight that we might watch its dazzling shadow in the water of the lagoon nearby.

 

17 “For my Emperor, I shall die,” he said. That was nearly December. He came less often after that and each time he came, there was a looked of eternal sadness in his eyes.

 

18 “American soldier very strong. Many airplanes, many tanks, many machine guns,” he said. It was the first time he really was telling us anything.

 

 19 “Why do you go on fighting them? Don’t you like to live anymore?” I asked. In my heart I knew what was coming. I had heard the roar of cannons and I just come from the secret headquarters of the guerilla unit which I was attached. I felt sorry for him, but he was still the enemy.

 

20 He was tall and straight and good-looking, but he was Japanese, and we were afraid. His garrison was just opposite our home, and we were supposed to be “conquered” people, so we had to let him in that morning.

                                                                                                                                       

21 In answer to my question, he drew his sword and in a salute said: “I die for my Emperor.” The sadness was on his face, and we knew he was in earnest, even though he smiled after the demonstration.

 

A few days after that, he came again, he came to say good-bye. He stood tall and straight and brave at the gate and saluted. “Sayonara.”

 

22 We never saw him again. Maybe he went to the hills of Baguio, maybe to Cagayan. I don’t know. We never knew much about him anyway. We only knew he loved music; that he was a Christian who had learned the message of the Prince of Peace by heart, who hungered for home for his mother to soothe his fevered brow, for the smell of flowers in the breeze, and one who must forget them all because of a man he called hi Emperor.

                                    Reference: Avenues in English I, Romantico Barrientos et.al, pp.197-199 

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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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