~~~~((~~~((@ THE ROSE GARDEN @))~~~))~~~~
From the memoirs of Chiba Mamoru, as re-told to Pandora Diane Waldron
"Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose." --Farid ud-din Attar, 12th Century Persian poet.
Chapter 6: The Next Stage
Mika no Hara
Itsu mi kitote ka
Fujiwara no Kanesuke
Over Mika's plain,
Gushing forth and flowing free,
Is Izumi's stream.
I do not know if we have met:
Why, then, do I long for her?
The barriers Mamoru had put around himself were crumbling at last. Now he spoke to Suzuki-san freely, without reserve, without worrying what she was doing with this knowledge. She's right, he thought. Sometime, somehow, I have to start trusting SOMEONE. Or when I find HER, perhaps I will do the wrong thing. Perhaps I will hurt her, instead of loving her, protecting her, as I want to do. I don't even know how to trust. And how can there be love, without trust? That much, I do know.
So he told her all about the dream. the dream which had frightened and haunted him. And asked for her advice.
"You say this rose was like warm blood. And then it shattered? And that you think somehow the rose is you?" Mamoru nodded.
"Well, I see several things here. A dream works on several levels, Mamoru-kun. Perhaps indeed, you feel you are broken, and cannot be mended. I think that represents your inner fears, your fears of failure. But Mamoru-kun, *I* think you can be mended. I think you are already mending, becoming whole inside. At least, you have started that process. And when you meet HER, I think her love will help you heal inside, even more."
He reddened, then. "Can you please stop talking about HER? It embarrasses me. I don't talk about my dreams to anyone, but you. And you take advantage of that knowledge. Why do you tease me? Maybe she isn't real."
"YOU don't think that. And nor do I. Something else. The dream is about death. Yours, I think. As if you have experienced death, at least in this dream. And also, the shattering represents the breaking of walls. Perhaps these are the walls you have put around expressing your feelings, your love, your trust, Mamoru-kun. And indeed, they are shattering now. And that frightens you, doesn't it? It IS very frightening, when you open yourself up to others, isn't it? But believe me, it is worth it. Or so I have found."
"These walls you have built around yourself, they are made of anger and hurt. You unleashed your anger on me yesterday. And it is a powerful force in you. Your anger can be a force of good, or a force of evil. Which will it be for you? Only you can make that decision, Mamoru-kun. When you learn to control, to focus all your anger, all your love, together, then you will realize the full power which lies inside you, not yet awakened. There IS a special power inside you. I have sensed it. But only time will teach you to use it, to unleash it for the purpose it was given to you."
Ocean-blue eyes blinked at her. "Purpose? For what purpose? And what is this power you speak of, the power you think I have?"
She looked at him thoughtfully. "I don't really know. I just sense things about you. I also sense that only when you look for HER in earnest will you find the powers which lie within you. SHE is the key, as much as the object you seek is the other key."
"And I'll tell you something else. In reality, it was not ME you were angry at the other day. It is yourself you were angry at. Which is why I have forgiven you. Deep inside you, there is guilt, blame. You blame yourself for something you have done, long, long ago, or perhaps something you haven't done. And you are afraid you will fail again. And it frightens you. You are afraid you are not up to this enormous quest you have set yourself to accomplish."
"Your desperate wish to not fail this time, is what will drive you to succeed this time. But it will also give you no peace. In time, I hope you will find that peace, that you will let go of blaming yourself. We are only human, we all make mistakes. And I know you by this time, Mamoru-kun. Whatever you did, or didn't do, I know you did your very best. And someday, SHE will know it too. And it is in HER, the love I hope you find with her, that at last, you may find peace."
That was the last time I really talked to Suzuki-san. The next few weeks were busy with plans for starting at my new school. August 3rd, my 16th birthday, it seemed like all the staff turned out. Even ones who hadn't worked at the orphanage for years. It was more like a goodbye, a send-off party than a birthday party. And I was truly surprised how many people turned out, how many well-wishers there were. And all the going-away gifts I got, I couldn't believe it! And all those GIRLS! Hanging on my arm, wanting to dance with me, fighting over me.
People are kind enough now to say I'm charming. Well, I haven't always been that way. I had to learn to be charming, in sheer self-defense (oh, how arrogant and conceited that sounds--forgive me!). It was either learn to be charming, or there would be a LOT of girls with hurt feelings. And sometimes, I admit it, I have just avoided answering questions to which there is just no right answer. "So which of us do you think is the prettiest, Mamoru-kun? Which of us do you prefer?" NO, NO, NO!! I will NOT be trapped into answering questions like that! I will change the subject, run out of the room first. At least, until I can figure out a way to answer that kind of question, WITHOUT hurting feelings. And intelligent as they say I am, I haven't figured that one out yet. <SIGH!> How do I get myself into these situations, anyway?
Well, the party wasnt quite as bad as Id dreaded it to be. I may in time get used to all this attention from the female sector, I thought, as I walked back across the garden, alone. Right now, I find it all a little overwhelming. Wasnt easy, ducking out of your own party, without anyone seeing you go. I walked up the steps to the tea house, deciding I would meditate for a while. Opened the door. And there she was, smiling. Mikata Suzuki. The tea all ready, the places set, and a stack of books sitting on the table.
"What are you, Mikata-chan? A demon? Or a witch? How did you know Id find my way back here?" Yes, I had started calling her Mikata-chan. I was not a boy any more. And she was more like a friend to me than anyone Id known in my life before. So, why not? She didnt seem to mind. Not, mind you, that I called her anything but Suzuki-san when the staff were around. I wouldnt want anyone to get the wrong idea, or think I was being disrespectful to the orphanage director. That would never do.
"Poor Mamoru-kun! Still not used to all that attention, are you? But it comes with the territory, Im afraid. A young man cant look the way you look, and not expect girls to be all over him. Just be nice to them, be polite. But when you meet...your Princess," her eyes twinkled, "I have something special here, to help you out." As usual, I felt myself blushing, when "she" was mentioned. But I couldnt do anything about that reaction.
"Here, have some tea," Mikata Suzuki said, pushing it towards me. "Im sorry. Im sure youve been made uncomfortable enough tonight, without me adding to it. Not that there arent people around who would just love to have your problems!"
To give myself time to regain my composure, I picked up one of the books stacked next to my tea saucer. And read the title. "Sonnets From The Portuguese" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
"The book is an antique, and quite valuable," she told me. "Elizabeth Barrett Barrett (that was her maiden name) was a 19th Century English poet and novelist. But although she was famous, she had spent her life as a lonely invalid, never meeting any of the people who read her books."
"And then, when she was aged 38, a young poet, unknown to the public, started writing letters to her. He was Robert Browning, just turned 32, and it seems he had fallen in love with her through her poetry. He sent letter after letter to her, begging her to meet him. She was terrified that when he met her, he would be disappointed, and put him off. But finally they did meet, and despite the age difference, they married, and produced a son, also named Robert. Robert took Elizabeth to live in Italy right after the wedding, to help her regain her health in the warmer climate."
"And thats when Elizabeth decided to share the love poetry she had written to Robert. She was much too shy to show it to him at first, but finally she got the courage. He was so moved by it, he told her that she simply had to get all this poetry published, that it was the best thing she had ever done. But Elizabeth would have none of it. She didnt want everyone knowing her most private feelings about the man she loved. But then Robert came up with a great idea. He told her they could pretend that the ideas in the poems werent originally hers, that she had merely translated someone elses poetry. So he tried to pick a language he thought that English readers wouldnt be familiar with. And thats why the title of her love poetry collection is called, "Sonnets From The Portuguese.""
Fascinated by this story, Mamoru picked up the book. It immediately fell open at a certain page, and he began reading aloud, "How do I love thee...Let me count the ways..." He didnt blush this time. But he did look up at Mikata, and smiling, said, "I think Ill read this one later, if you dont mind. So, whats this next one?"
"Something every young man with romantic inclinations should have. A book of haiku poetry. You find yourself tongue-tied sometimes, dont you, Mamoru-kun? A loner like you isnt going to find it easy to express his feelings in words. These books, I hope, will help you bring out what is inside you. They will, if nothing else, give you some ideas. Youll probably sound a little over the top for a while, but I doubt any of the girls in your life will notice. These days, a young man who can quote poetry, or who knows how to sound a bit like a poet, is a rarity. Trust me, theyll hang on your every word!"
"Ill keep that in mind," he replied, in mock-seriousness. [Well, if the books work, who am I to knock it?]
"Whats this last one called, I cant even pronounce it?"
"I saved the best one for last. Its called "The Rubbiyat Of Omar Khayyam", and its a very famous book of Persian poetry." The book flipped open to the flyleaf, and Mamoru read the dedication, "To my Moonlight Knight," and looked at her questioningly. "Why do you call me that?"
"Because, Mamoru-kun, I know how often you cant sleep, and you go out into the garden at night. I cant sleep a lot of nights too, and I can see you from my window, in the moonlight. And you *are* my Knight. You always look after everything here at the orphanage that I cant. You help sometimes without even telling me about it. You just do it. Youre very responsible, way beyond your years. So I just thought, if you cant sleep anyway, you might as well be reading something. Thats what helps me when I cant sleep. And since I know what, or should I say, whom, your thoughts are usually focused on, I think you may as well read this book. And when you finally meet her, it may help you find the words in your heart to say to her."
Mamoru shook his head in wonder. "Mikata Suzuki, you are absolutely....incorrigible."
There was a sly smile on her face he had never seen before. "Why, thank you!" "Now, off with you--its late!! Oh, and many happy returns, Mamoru-kun! Your birthday ends in..." She looked at her watch, "twenty minutes! And I have to make my rounds, and shut off all the lights. So, enjoy! The world awaits you, my boy. I wish I were you, going off to a new school, and discovering who I am, and what I want in life. Ive already discovered that now. But unfortunately, its gone." Her hand trembled just a bit, on the railing going down the steps of the tea house. And Mamoru knew better than to say anything. But he knew what she was feeling, all the same.
PLEASE GO TO CHAPTER 7: On The Threshold Of A Dream