a good artist

  A gnarled Prussian blue tree stooped. Beside it, three motionless stick figures were daubed in Payne’s gray. All under the blazing sun, a big circle in gory burnt umber. Mom and Dad looked at the painting and whispered to each other, averting their eyes from my seven-year-old sister, who had painted the masterpiece. The following week, I painted a still life: lemon yellow and … Continue reading a good artist

Christmas with Buddha

  On the morning of December 25th, I woke up and found a wrapped present. The kindergarten I attended was on winter vacation, and I was staying at my grandfather’s temple. “Wonder who’s this from,” I inspected the present. “Buddha.” “Buddha?” Everyone at the temple was busy with usual morning chores, and I did not query any further. The rest of the week, we cleaned … Continue reading Christmas with Buddha

letting go

  “Don’t go. Stay.” Charles’s chubby hands clung to his mother’s suit skirt, his big eyes imploring. “I have to work, sweetheart.” “You said…” “I’ll be back.” “But…” “Be good.” “I am!” “Of course, you are, Charles.” His mother looked at her watch and grabbed the keys. “I love you. I have to go.” “You promised…” Charles let the skirt go.   For Friday Fictioneers … Continue reading letting go

a doll

  She avoids eye contact with me, her gaze focused on the void. Her mouth is flat. Her ornate kimono faded. Her ebony hair, however, glistens in the rays of frail light coming from the tiny window behind her. It’s the only window in the room. The room is at the north end of the house and dark and cold even during the day. An … Continue reading a doll

an origami crane

She neatly creased the paper. “What are you doing?” her granddaughter gaped at the intricate piece by the grandmother’s hands. “Origami… I’m making a crane.” “Aw…” the five-year-old frowned. “You fold  paper like this and like this, open it like this, and voilà!” She produced a crane made of a green square sheet of paper. “Wow…” “Do you want to try?” She placed a sheet … Continue reading an origami crane

a bud

“Brace yourself.” Grandmother pulled and tightened the obi just above my hip. The motion jerked me, but I was able to hold back. “If it’s not tight enough, the whole thing will fall apart.” She made me turn around, scrutinizing everything. The smoke from the mosquito coil rolled upwards and swayed with the evening breeze. The lazy sound of the wind chime echoed. My back … Continue reading a bud

on Girl’s Day

  March 3rd is Girl’s Day in Japan. People set up dolls and rice crackers as they pray for girls’ health and happiness. For my Girl’s Day celebration, my parents and grandparents prepared an elaborate ceremonial display and dressed me in baby kimono. I was loved. There were many traditions and rituals when I was growing up in Japan. There were many “do”s and “don’t”s … Continue reading on Girl’s Day