Pure Slush

flash ... without the wank

Yellow

<  Wednesdays

by Gill Hoffs   Saved, Nevertheless  >

 

“I’m learning Japanese.”

Gran threw my bacon straight from the griddle into the sink.  It sizzled and spat in the drips pooling under the taps.

Three words she’d heard as ‘I hate you’ or ‘I’d kill him again if I could’.  Three words it took weeks to say.

“Why would you do a thing like that?”

She waited, lips pursed and arms folded tight across her chest.  I guessed she was tucking her hands away before they hit me.  She knew I’d walk out over that; she needed to vent a little first.

“I like the language; the culture is … interesting.  The food’s delicious.  And it’s great for my CV-“

She turned her head and spat in the sink.

My grandfather fought for freedom.  Freedom to live, love, and worship as you see fit.  The way grandma tells it, he went over there to kill the Yellow Peril.  She didn’t think then they had the cunning to kill him instead.

And I don’t know that they did.  I don’t know.  I know he was shot down and captured, kept squatting in a bamboo cage for days at a time.  And came home whole but in pieces, the same to look at but not to talk with, never again.  I know there was never rice in the house, or at neighbourhood weddings, not in our bags, anyway.  We threw crumbs or confetti.  If someone forgot, grandfather turned white and walked off at a brisk march.  I know he died slowly of a cancerous spleen, my grandma at his side.

Did they kill him?  That I don’t know.  But my family, my grandma, hold that the torture brought the cancer to his spleen.  They think Asia killed him.

“Your grandfather…”

She was shaking, her eyes moist, face crimson.

“He was very brave.  It’s awful what happened.  I don’t mean to upset you…”

“But you’re doing it anyway?  Huh!” She turned her back, muttering “Go.”

I stood, crossed the kitchen to the door.  Said “I love you.”

Again with the spitting in the sink.  She was muttering something in acid whispers as I left, fingers rubbing the silver locket lying heavy on her chest, eyes pinched shut as I followed the path past the kitchen window.

I walked to the church, met my brother inside.

“Did you tell her?”

“I tried.”

He clasped my hand, looking me in the eye.

“Perhaps you could try again?”

I shook my head, no.

Golden daffodils and the palest cream hyacinths standing succulent by the altar, I wondered what I should choose for the big day.  His family would appreciate chrysanthemums and there would be no-one there to mind, now. 

 

published 16 November 2011