Archive for July, 2016

Second Daughter, 14

Her letter to the Governor had been over a week ago; her visit with Henseit a few days. Kaori was now worried. She had agreed to her brother’s gamble because it would cost the Governor nothing to say no, and gain everyone something if he said yes. But Kaori had always grown up with the phrase “Bad news travels slowly”, and now she was worried that bad news was what was traveling towards her. Kimiyasu tried to get her out of the house again, and again Kaori pleaded that she had to work on her dress. This time, Kimiyasu let it go. Katai found her at her desk, waiting for something to happen.
“Kaori?” She turns to look at her mother.
“Yes, Mother?”
“The fabric has waited for you, longer than it should have. In your sister’s household you will have much work to do and a short while to do it in. You cannot afford to get distracted so deeply by the events around you. Especially those you can’t control.” She extends her hand out to Kaori, who lifts herself from the chair and heads towards her mother. She takes her mother’s hand, and the two begin walking towards the workroom.
“Let the work you must do be your refuge against the work you cannot do. Your Father has taught you how to become one with your art, so take those lessons into the household. Learn to become one with the tasks you must do in the household, forget yourself in those tasks, and you’ll find that when they are over, the world isn’t quite as bad as you thought it was.”
“With all due respect, Mother, that’s art. Not housework.”
“Has your Father not taught you to approach all your work as artwork?”
“He has but…” Kaori sighs. “Its not the same.”
“And why is that, Daughter.” Katai doesn’t bother with formulating a question, the conversation falls along lines that are almost rote. Katai’s fan whips out to warn caution, but in truth it is to arrest the progress of Katai’s knowledge that soon, her youngest daughter won’t be here to have these conversations with.
“Art is… yes its work, but its a liberating work. It is the work which brings the spirit into the world, it is birthing work, generative.”
“And housework isn’t?” This is new to Katai, and now the discussion is joined in earnest.
“Housework is… sustaining? Maintaining?” Kaori fans herself as they walk slowly, deliberately through the house. “It isn’t generative.”
“Even the creative work of creating your own clothing?”
“That is transformative, but still not… creative.” Kaori sees the folly too late.
“Why can the work of maintenance not create? Do you not change the state of what was into what is? Is that change not new? The answer is to see the new state as being that, something new, and not the change of something old. Besides, focusing on what you can control is how you forget what you cannot control.”
“Thank you Mother, you’re right, I should stop worrying. I just… It would be so great an opportunity. I hope Weili knows what he’s doing.”
“Your Father would not have let him do it if he did not believe in your brother. You must have faith. In the meantime, you must have clothing.” Katai smiles at her daughter as the two enter the workroom. Lacquered wood paneling frames a wooden floor and smooth worktables. The fabric chosen in town over a week ago sits folded on one of them, near a series of wooden bars with indentations carved into them where posts will sit in order to measure. Several other colors of thread and sewing needles are arranged on the table. On the other side of the room a few works in progress are draped over dress forms. Kaori recognizes her mother’s style and her sister’s stitching on some of the clothes, projects abandoned in favor of the elaborate white costume that occupies the focus of the room.
Kimiyasu’s wedding dress, even half finished, looks exquisite to Kaori. Next to it, a more humble white arrangement is even less finished. Kaori realizes that will be her dress for the ceremony.
Against her will, Kaori goes rigid. She knows she will not be working on it, as she should, because she doesn’t know if she wants to. Neither, for that matter, does her family. Katai leaves her side to pull up some painted silk screens so that Kaori can focus only on the task at hand. “Go measure your fabric and make sure we have enough, Kaori.”
Kaori walks to the wall, her movements are stiff, she knows, but she cannot relax. The dress makes everything so real… She puts up the posts, wraps them in silk-covered cotton, then proceeds to measure the fabric. She comes up short for the measurement she needs.
“There isn’t enough Mother, the shopkeep shortchanged us.” The anger restores some of the grace to her movements.
“For a married woman?”
Kaori opens her mouth, stops, then turns back to the fabric. She adjusts one of the posts. The fabric is a little more than enough, exactly what Kaori needs. She realizes that there would have been no where else to get the fabric: he knew they already had the wedding dresses and assumed this would be for after the ceremony, so he gave enough for a married woman’s outfit. Kaori goes to take it off the post, and a small splinter catches at one of the edges, she groans.
“Mother, I’m not ready to do this, I can’t—”
“No. You found within yourself wisdom. Now find within yourself nothingness. Fold the frays into the seam. You can do this Kaori, you must.” Katai’s voice does not leave room for argument, she knows she cannot command her child to have confidence, to do, and be, better, but she cannot help but try. She would not be a mother if she didn’t.
Kaori takes a deep breath, extricates the fabric from the wall carefully and without further damage, and then proceeds to do exactly what her mother has said.


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