Two afternoons and an alteration

In contrast to a sunny 4:28 PM, this Sunday’s 4:28 PM is rainy. A light pitter patter patterns its way through our corrugated roof. Closed windows block any chance of chill getting inside and I’m strapped to our old gray Monobloc. I’ve committed myself to listening to people talk. Last Sunday, I did the same. With a few exceptions of errands that require moving out of my gray throne, the previous Sundays probably looked the same. But some Sundays choose to carve itself in a different way, like initials bound by heart etchings on some poor acacia or caimito tree. Except this one’s not about the binding, but more about the letting go.

A month ago, our kendo teacher (sensei) passed on. On his 40th day of passing, our local and national kendo community set up an online tribute. For an hour or more, stories about our teacher flowed, stories I haven’t heard before, first impressions, vivid descriptions that seemed to breathe life into a still gray picture. Throughout the pandemic, Sundays had been pretty sedentary. For safety reasons, my shinai (Japanese practice sword made of bamboo), my kendogi (kendo uniform), and even my kiai (yell made when striking) were kept. Without a decent space, it didn’t make sense to practice. I didn’t want to risk hitting our clothesline nor add another bump on my sister’s forehead. Like any kendoka (kendo practitioner) who was forced to stay home, I was hopeful to see our dojo, seniors, and our teacher at the end of this pandemic tunnel.

Two afternoons and an alteration. The variables for becoming a changed person is fascinating. My practice sword remains tucked inside its red cloth bag and the pitter patter ceased. The commitment was done three hours ago. I’m still strapped on our gray Monobloc, trying to type the right words using a new keyboard. In the span of a week, so much “new” had piled itself into my life. In my head, I feel the same—not because the loss of an esteemed and thoughtful teacher fail to empty my tear ducts. In a less eloquent string of words, here it goes: loss is inevitable. “Inevitable.” It sounds like some invisible sage speaking in my mind, but I prefer the sage over the mocking voice that grief sometimes choose to speak.

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