Although arranged marriages (miai-gekkon) are declining in Japan, in the early 70's and especially among families, at that time, of the older generation it was very common. Eke had been told from a very early age that her husband would be chosen for here according to custom when she reached her mid twenties and from her father up to her great grandfather that is all she knew. Her families of aunts and uncles as well as her parents were all interested in finding the right husband for Eke and she knew that.
Traditionally, the Japanese would engage a nakodo (a go-between) to find the right match considering all of the factors such as education, economic status, and family background. The nakodo was not a professional but someone that knew the families and could objectively determine if the relationship was a good match. In addition, the Suki's were especially interested in Eke marrying a Japanese man and staying close to home since she was their only child. So when they heard the news that Eke was "falling in love" with an American they felt there was no choice but to take action and get her headed back home.
Eke had arrived back in Japan two days after making that emotional trip from Bakersfield to Los Angeles and she had cried virtually all the way home. She thought about her American family and how she couldn't tell them the truth and she missed them terribly. She thought about Carlo whom she was not allowed to call before leaving America. "What must he be thinking of me?" she thought to herself.
"I hope he all right." Eke could see his beautiful smile and hear his soft words as she shut her eyes to rest from the sobbing. But it was no use. As soon as she conjured up the vision of the man she loved she couldn't control her emotions.
The more she tried to keep it in the harder her body shook. "Are you alright honey?" were the kind words from the pleasant brunette lady sitting next to Eke on the plane. "Here, try this.
" as she handed a clean hanky to Eke to wipe her nose and eyes. She had cried so hard that even her blouse was moist and both cheeks were red as a Delicious apple. "It must be someone you love," she continued. "If you want to talk, I am right here." The lady leaned her seat back, rested her head against a pillow and smiled briefly with warm blue eyes as she slowly closed her lids.
Eke tried to get some sleep but all she could think about was Carlo and "mom and dad" and all of her American friends. Her past 8 months were so wonderful that she, quite frankly, did not want to return home. But it was the right thing to do. She loved her mom and dad and did not want to ever disappoint them. She would talk to them and in time they would understand. She was just sure of that and then she would be able to return to him.
Soon the nice lady awoke and Eke reached over to touch her hand without saying a word and just like that Eke found her self on the ladies shoulder in tears once again as she began to tell the lady what had happened. It took a while but soon Eke found her self starting to calm as she allowed herself to get the emotion out and the lady was the perfect listener. She said nothing but an occasional "uh,huh", "oh my", "bless you".
by the time they arrived in Tokyo, Eke's cheeks were normal and her eyes were not puffy. She was ready to face mom and dad. Eke hadn't taken two steps off the plane when she heard the scream from her mother.
"Eke! Eke!" Her mom came running straight to her through the crowd of people. They were not only mother and daughter but they were also best friends. Just like Eke, mother Suki was a bubbly bundle of energy.
They were like two peas in a pod. Eke could see dad standing at a distance and she knew that this was dad's doing as head of the family. He was the man of the house and it was his decision to bring Eke home and her mom dutifully knew her place. There was nothing said on the way home, in fact Eke consciously kept the conversation going about how things were in Wakayama; had they seen any of her friends; hoping to keep from having to discuss why she was in Japan until she had a chance to get a good nights sleep and gather her composure. Not much was being said by dad but mom was her usual self talking a mile a minute.
It was almost as if mom knew this was not the time to talk about Carlo and she was doing her best to stay away from the subject to give her daughter a chance to sleep in her own bed; things would be easier in the morning. (.to be continued).
Jeff Gustafson and MyHATT, An international dinner club concept where people get to know people one bite at a time...thank you to The Daily Buzz and my entire MyHATT contributing staff for the educational content for world culture, the history, world traditions, the international menus for this family activity... http://www.myhatt.com