It’s Lynn’s third week in Okinawa, and she was surprised to find herself still inquisitive about the place. This day, Lynn was helping Kinjo-san clean her antiques when Kinjo-san asked about Lynn’s travels.
“I’ve been traveling for close to two years now, and nope, I’ve not gone home in between. I mean, I do miss home from time to time, but I enjoy being out of the country.”
“What do your parents think?”
“They just let me be; I mean, what can they do? I am already 26!”
“You’re 26? I’m 82.”
“No way! You are so young and energetic.”
“It’s the pigskin and tobacco, trust me.”
“What about you, Kinjo-san? Do you like to travel?”
“Oo, not really. I get seasick and flight sickness! Not in me to travel.”
As Kinjo-san pulled herself up from the ground, she noticed Lynn’s slender arms and compared them with her thick arms. She laughed and walked to the bathroom, “Don’t grow old, okay?”
Lynn wondered what that meant for a second and continued to clean Kinjo-san’s scrolls and teapots. As a result of Kinjo-san’s meticulous care, the antiques in Kinjo-san’s place were well-maintained.
“You will tell me some stories, won’t you?”
“Hmm, what do you want to know?”
Lynn randomly picked up a large wooden box and asked, “What’s inside?”
Kinjo-san put down her cigarette and carefully opened the box to reveal a folded piece of vermillion textile, minsa.
Kinjo-san shared that the minsa was a gift of love and protection from her mother to her father. The best-known minsa came from the Yaeyama Islands, a group of islands south of Okinawa main island.
“You see this pattern here. It means long love.”
Lynn carefully observed the vermillion textile. It had shades of yellow ochres and tangerines running across the tiny knots of red. She touched the alternating pattern of five and four small rectangles.
“Just before the war, chichi buried the minsa deep in the soil, somewhere behind this house. He was afraid to damage it. Ha! And then, just before the Americans came, a Yamoto soldier gave him a hand grenade. He took the hand grenade and me into the caves to hide from the air raids. One night, he put me to bed and pulled the hand grenade.”
As Kinjo-san closed the wooden box and put it away, Lynn made a promise to herself to not ask for stories unless Kinjo-san volunteered to share.