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i still dream of you

est. 26.9.19

Message to Readers

Changed a lot from the original since I wasn't really feeling it. Thoughts? Comments? Let me know! I love hearing what you have to say!

The Passing of Cherry Blossoms

November 11, 2020

   "Baba¹! Baba!" I call, sprinting towards him. 
    "Yua!" Baba's face lights up as he sets his cane down and spins me around in the air. Merriment and joy lines his face, as wrinkles etch stories into his skin. 
    The two of us spin around until the world blurs together, our laughter tinkling together like ringing bells. 
    "Tell me the tale of Uba-zakura
again Baba," I say, watching as the cherry blossoms fall. They flutter in the wind, tints of white and pink lining the sky as they cascade down. 
    "Yes!" I exclaim, twirling around under the falling flowers. 
    He chuckles, "This tale begins with a milk nurse's undying love for a child that wasn't her own..." 

    "Baba, Baba," I whisper, my voice strained as I grip his hand. 
    "Yua, my little sakura," Baba calls my name faintly, his voice barely audible as his hand trembles in mine. 
    A nasal cannula is wired into his nose, a heart monitor connected; he is made of wires, his wrinkles sagging into ashy gray. The machines beep around us, the only sound in the silence of the hospital. 
    "Yua, my dear sweet granddaughter Yua," he gasps for breath, just talking is a struggle. "It's almost time for the Shinigami² to come-" 
    "Baba..." I grip his hand tighter as I fight to hold back the tears. "Nothing's going to happen to you Baba. The doctors will make you better and you'll come back home. Don't talk as if you're already-" 
    I can't even say the word. Tears fall like glass as I choke back a cry. I look at Baba through glassy eyes and watch as his expression softens. He lets go of my face and pulls me close until our foreheads touch. 
    "My little darling sakura. It's time for me to move on. Humans cannot live forever, just as cherry blossoms do not last a whole year." He strokes my hair, running fingers through the strands. 
    "It's not fair Baba, you should have more time-" I sniffle, struggling to regain my breath. I wrap my arms around him tightly, feeling how frail he is against me. No longer does he smell of sweet flowers and medicinal herbs, replaced by the desolateness of sterility and antibiotics. "It's just not fair..." 
    "Do you remember the tale of Uba-zakura Yua?" 
    "Of course Baba," I laugh, "How could I forget? You told me it all the time."
    I wipe my tears with the back of my hand, watching as a smile dances along his lips. 
    "I would like to watch the cherry blossoms fall one last time." 

    "There was once a man named Tokubei who was quite fortunate in lifeand yet, he had never experienced the joys of parenthood. His wife and him prayed for days until finally their prayers were heard. The wife gave birth to a baby girl, O-Tsuyu." 
        Baba pauses, catching a sakura flower in his hand.
    "The wife had a milk deficiency and so they hired a milk nurse named O-Sode. Over time, O-Sode had grown a motherly love for O-Tsuyu, thinking of her as if her own daughter." 
     "O-Sode must've really loved O-Tsuyu Baba." 
    "She really did Yua, and I love you just the same." 
    I smile at Baba, holding his wrinkly hand in mine. 
    "When O-Tsuyu was fifteen, she fell gravely ill
to the point that it looked like she might die. When O-Sode heard this, she went to Saihouji³ and prayed to Fudou-sama⁴ every day for twenty one daysand O-Tsuyu finally recovered." 
    "Baba, if you ever get sick, I would pray for you everyday until you recovered." 
    Baba squeezes my hand and kisses the top of my head. 
    "Tokubei threw a feast to celebrate O-Tsuyu's recovery, but on the same day, O-Sode fell ill. The doctors declared she was dying." 
    Baba smooths out the petals of the cherry blossom. 
    "On her death bed, O-Sode revealed to O-Tsuyu's family that her prayers for O-Tsuyu were answered. She had prayed to die in O-Tsuyu's place, trading her own life for a daughter that wasn't her own. She said to them to not grieve, but fulfill her promise to Fudou-Sama
to plant a cherry blossom tree in the garden of Saihouji. With that O-Sode passed away." 
    Tears prick the corners of my eyes as I burrow myself under Baba's arm. 
    "O-Tsuyu's family planted the cherry blossom tree, and every year on the anniversary of O-Sode's death, it blossoms, as if to shower the world with O-Sode's love for O-Tsuyu."     
    Baba pauses and strokes my hair. 
    "I love you, my little sakura." 
    "I love you too Baba."

The cherry blossoms flutter in the air, tints of pink showering the world. The air was sweet, and it was a beautiful day for hanami⁵. The sky was a light blue and the sun casted twinkling rays of light. 
    Baba smiles, closing his eyes, and basking in the warmth of life. His face rested into a content smile; and it was as if I was that young girl and he was that youthful Baba again, telling me the take of Uba-zakura. 
    "Tell me the tale of Uba-zakura Baba," I whisper. 
    "Again?" he chuckles, before breaking off into a coughing fit. 
    "I never get tired of it." 
    "Hmm, that is true. This tale begins with a milk nurse's undying love for a child that wasn't her own..." 
    Opening his eyes, Baba reaches out a hand and catches a cherry blossom. Taking my hand in his, he places the blossom into my palm. Tears well up in my eyes, as I fold my hand over the blossom. 
    "I love you my little sakura." 
    Baba smiles, and I watch as his eyes close for the last time. 

    "Yua," Baba says, placing a cherry blossom into my palm, "O-Sode sacrificed herself for O-Tsuyu, and I would do the same for you. Whenever you see a cherry blossom, know that they signify my love for you." 
    Baba caresses my face with his hand, a lighthearted smile lighting up his face, "My little sakura."
¹ Baba - Nicknames for grandparents in Japan from obaasan 
² "Grim Reaper" "Bringer of Death" "Death Spirit" in Japanese religion
³ Famous Japanese temple nearby O-Sode and O-Tsuyu's village 
⁴ The Wisdom King Acala in Vajrayana Buddhism
⁵ Traditional Japanese cherry blossom viewing

Uba-zakura - Cherry-tree of the Milk-Nurse

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  • crystalline•galaxies

    re: you've got nothing to apologize for! your comment was still as lovely as always. it wasn't the clearest piece, which i did on purpose, so please don't feel guilty at all.

    6 months ago
  • crystalline•galaxies

    re: i'm so glad you liked my piece! i cried while writing it (my own pet rat just recently died, so i was writing with him in mind). i kind of felt myself modeling Death after Terry Pratchett's take on the character, but i forgot about "The Book Thief" and now i'm seeing how it relates to that version of Death as well. thank you yet again for your comment! i get unreasonably excited about them. <3

    6 months ago
  • crystalline•galaxies

    re: yet another fantastic round of comments from you... i seriously don't know how you do it. the time and effort you put into those never ceases to amaze me. one of the many meanings of the cyclamen flowers that i found was "resignation and goodbye," which is the definition i was thinking of when i wrote that piece. i did it (maybe a tad selfishly) to represent myself, as i felt very, very resigned and hopeless at that time. it was kind of a way to lowkey express my feelings without explicitly mentioning them? it makes me so happy that you actually went and looked up the meaning of that flower. i swear -- you're amazing.

    6 months ago
  • Paisley Blue

    oh my goodness, this is heartbreaking and so so so good <333 wow. this is beautiful. wow!!! <3

    6 months ago
  • JustAnotherDarling

    there are so, so many tears in my eyes just waiting to fall. this relationship! this love! the way you wrote it with flashbacks and the present! i'm not sure anything i'm saying can even be considered as a coherent thought - i'm swept away by this beautiful, breathSTEALING story <33

    6 months ago
  • rwong

    oh wow!! my heart was racing so fast as i read this–this is such a beautiful piece!! I love love love how you incorporated traditional japanese words into it, i thought it really added to the story, and made it almost homey? i'm not sure how to describe it, since i'm practically speechless, i mean wow!! well written <3

    6 months ago