After last week’s post . . .
The sun, scorching hot, was burning down on the land as it often loved to do. Everyone was irritable and grouchy because of it. Still, it laughed at the misery of fifty, poor farmers dragging bucket after bucket to their rice fields. Though it rained every two days, keeping the fields wet, the sun was merciless every chance it managed to shine.
But the sun was not the only aggravation of the day. Deep within the farm land in a little blue house perched by a giant hill, the outside weather was the last thing on anyone’s mind. For inside, traditions were being challenged.
“Kyo! You’ve got to stop this, okay!” Mrs. Hiakem hollered at her oldest son. “You know how much mess it makes if the oldest son does not take over his father’s job! You are not a warrior so stop trying to be one and make life easier for us all!” The whisk in her hand worked her cookie dough furiously!
How many times had she tried to tell him! All his life Kyo had played, imagined, and trained to live the life of a soldier. He was the strongest fighter in the whole village. In fact, in many farm villages and country gatherings, he had proven his strength by wrestling every boy, even those older than him. His strong frame, steady confidence, and stubborn persistence gained him plenty of victories, even more bruises, and an uncountable amount of lectures. After all, he was not a warrior. In reality, he was quite the opposite. They were farmers.
His mother had done all she could too keep him busy in the field with no time to train. But the hard work only made Kyo stronger and helped him realize what he truly loved was karate. For years he had been in the habit of practicing two hours every night, regardless of what he had done the day before. Therefore, he could work hour after hour tirelessly, but he never found joy in farming like his father had.
“Mom! Can’t you see! I must, I must, practice! Don’t you know that? How can you tell me to stop doing what i have to do!?”
“Because it is not meant to be!” She cried in exasperation. Mrs. Hiakem strode toward her son in swift, angry steps, waving her mixing spoon in small circles. “Does the blacksmith’s son become a barber? Or the prince become a salesman? Do they? You know a farmer’s eldest son is a farmer! That is our culture, our way, our choice!”
“Mom!” Kyo’s brown eyes glowed fiercely, though he rarely showed anger toward his mother or father. “Then let your first son be the farmer, let Kirlo! He loves it! He dreams of it! Mom! He wants the farm! You and Dad both knew it. Dad may have let him have the farm, okay, so you should!”
“Kyo! You know why we can’t!”
“Because you don’t want the truth! You don’t want your neighbors to know I’m adopted. Yes! I get it! No one else adopts. It’s weird here, it’s weird for the eldest to not take the father’s job, but Mom! I am adopted! Though I’m older, Kirlo is your first natural son, accept it! It Is Not In Me To Farm! I don’t have it in my blood like Kirlo does!”
“KYO! Stop it! Stop stop stop!” Janly halted squarely in front of her son. Unwavered by her son’s height, Mrs Hiakem’s anger battled his in a fierce, struggling match.“You always deny you belong here. Moreover, you always deny to be our real son! What’s wrong? Why can’t you accept that you may be adopted, but you are our real son!?
“I could, Mom, if you would just let me be a warrior. Not a farmer, a . . .”
“NO! It is not our culture! It is not our way!”
“MOM! You are the one that says we always accept new cultures, we try new ways, and we do new things!”
“When the kings wishes to or when a new country is conquered, then we do. We blend their ways with ours. But Kyo, we then stick to those cultures! We add new culture, we don’t make new cultures!”
“Yet, I hear everyone saying how proud they are that they accept new things and ideas . . . “
“Kyo, just listen to me. . “
“Mom. I’ve listened to you! Please, listen to me. The logic of this entire country makes no sense! It never has and I was raised in it, it should make sense. But it does not. I have to choose my path, it is my choice not yours. Father always said a time would come when I would know and could choose my path. He said. . .“
“Your father is gone, Kyo. He is not coming back! And his ways are gone. They’re . . . gone.” Janly’s voice shivered as she breathed out the last word, her anger leaving with it.
“Mom.” Kyo stated quietly. “No. He is dead, but not in our hearts. His memories live on, his words stay wise, he still lived. He is not here now, but we cannot simply erase him! And it is time I choose how to live my life. And his teaching helps me and I . . . “
“Kyo, your family is your choice. Everyone must choose their family and their country, that is your duty. You have no other choice but to choose them!”
“Yes, I do! We have a choice in all things . . . I have a choice.”
“Kyo, you may have the choice but that does not mean either decision is right.”
“But Dad believed they were. Actually, he believed this culture was wrong.”
“Kyo.” Janly’s serious expression deepened with a resigned sadness. “I want my son safe. Those who break our culture or leave it put themselves in danger. And not just themselves, but others too. So you being a warrior? That is not our culture nor our way . . .”
“Please, Mom! Enough of the culture. It’s dangerous, I know! But what is life if not dangerous?! Besides, dangerous or not, I will not live life as a slave to what others think is right!”
He twisted around and marched angrily out the door, snapping it shut behind him. As he left, Mrs. Hiakem groaned in frustration. Why? Why did he have to be such a stubborn mule!
Kyo stormed from house, his heavy steps shaking their ancient, rickety shed. He ran all the way up the hill and out of view of his house.
Anger powered already strong, agile limbs. Following the yell of frustration his feet and hands burst into action. Flips, kicks, and well-planned routines swept through his body as he ripped the anger from his heart by moving. He fought the air till his anger was gone and replaced by the cool feeling of exercise.
He wasn’t angry at his mother, at least for the most part he wasn’t. Their culture was what she had grown up in. And he knew the desire to keep loved ones safe. But he was angry at his country, the society, and the people who thought they could run him and others. They were wrong. He knew it.
Some men might have given up and bent to the belief that culture and society knew better. But Kyo wasn’t a normal man. He was a warrior, in body and in heart. And though it went against ever tradition he’d ever rammed up against, he refused to quit karate and his dreams. Somehow, deep down, he knew in his mind and in his bones that he was a warrior. And the world would be all the better since he was. Just how would it be better? He didn’t quite know.
Onward the story shall go . . .