The Emperor's Sorrow

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A Day in the Life of Tokugawa Iemitsu


Light pink and red splodges tiptoe across the hill, until they burst out, shining above the horizon. “Good Morning,” I whisper, as I look to the sun, then letting my eyelids rest a while, as the glimmering light dances across my pale face. The warmth is comforting, and I attempt to soak up every drop of the moment, hoping that it will last forever. Unfortunately, I am interrupted by the sound of light footsteps approaching; an intruder? I look back, reluctantly; to see my loyal servants scurrying towards me. What do they want? I wonder. “Tokugawa San, we have come to escort you to the dining room for breakfast,” the men say in unison. I am angry that they have interrupted me in my time of peace, and so I tell them, “Good men, I have no appetite this morning. All I wish to do is stay out here for a little while longer. Can’t you leave me here for a second? After all I am Shogun.” My servants are stunned, but they quickly change their expressions. “Sire, it is your duty.” I turn my back to them, rudely, and inhale deeply. Instantly, my nostrils are filled with the sweet smell of rice and sake and I feel a kind of electrical charge run through my body. My stomach growls ferociously, as if there is a wolf lurking inside it. “Tokugawa San?” they say, and with that I hurry past them, leaving them in silence, as my wooden clogs go clop-a-tee-clop across the cobbled path.

Squeak, squeak go the floor boards beneath my feet as I march proudly down the hall admiring my surroundings. The tapestry of the ceiling is simply marvellous, and I can’t help but smile as I gaze up at the flower patterns, red, blue, and yellow. Foolishly, I close my eyes, and attempt to follow the strong smell of food, lingering in the morning air. After walking quite a distance, I come to a halt, and poke my head into a room. My eyes are immediately drawn to an oil lamp in the middle of the room, its luminosity blinding me. I squint, trying to make out a figure sitting in the corner of the room. For a moment, I think I hear crying, but find that I am mistaken once my sight returns to me. It is my brother, Seiji, who reminds me of a playful puppy, with his lopsided grin. As soon as he spots me, he flinches, his eyes bulge out of his small head, and I can tell that he is trying to avoid eye contact with me. “Brother!” I bellow. A weak smile crosses his face, “Yes, it is I, Seiji. I heard you coming down the hall,” he replies, his voice almost as loud as mine. I laugh out loud. “Of course you did, aster all it was my brilliant idea to install those squeaky floorboards, was it not?” Seiji begins to laugh too, but I do not recognize his voice, and can sense that something is bothering him. Before I can ask he says, “I have some news about our sister Honami…” he began, but I soon cut him off. “Ah… I thought I head crying. What has the our little sister been up to now?” I say, pretending to be annoyed by the matter, when in fact I am deeply concerned for the poor girl. “Yes, Iemitsu. That was what I wanted to talk to you about,” he whispers. “Don’t tell me she’s lost one of her hairpins, or broken a nail again?” I laugh. Although she may appear weak to many, Honami is a strong girl, although she is much younger than I. Honami often provides me with her words of wisdom, and always gets me out of sticky situations with our eldest brother, Ieyasu. Seiji isn’t pleased by my sense of humour and he glares at me, his eyes like daggers, piercing into my skin. But then, Seiji smiles because he knows that I can’t stand him staring at me like that, and I become irritated. “Can’t you bother me with this nonsense AFTER breakfast?” I say. “Brother?” He asks puzzled by my change of tone, although he knows why I am so flustered. “Oh don’t even bother, pretending to be innocent like that, Seiji!!” I shout. Before he can reply I storm out of the room, but he surprises me by placing his foot in the door. “Iemitsu! I COMMAND YOU TO LISTEN TO ME!!” Seiji roars, his nostrils flared, and I can almost see steam fuming from his ears. “Have you forgotten that I am now Shogun, and this is MY castle? If you were not my brother I would have the samurai chop your head off. Now come along, I have no reason to quarrel with you, and besides it can’t be that important,” I say, on the verge of exploding. “Brother… You are the most unworthy Shogun alive. It is a wonder that Ieyasu put you in charge.”

At breakfast, everyone is sitting according to their position in rank, and I quickly examine the long row of people to make sure that no-one has “forgotten” where they stand in society. At the very end of the line are my servants, including the two men who attempted to escort me to this blasted breakfast in the first place. I scan over to the middle where the lower ranking samurai, sit. Beside them are the higher ranking samurai, and I signal for them to get into their positions, behind the sliding doors, in order to prevent any low lives from interfering. At the very end are my brothers and sisters. They nod at me, all except for Seiji who is scowling. Oh, how I would love to pound his head into a million pieces, but that would only cause further conflict. Luckily, I know that Seiji will soon forget our quarrel. After all, he does love sake. My attention is then diverted to Honami. The girl, who usually sits taller than anyone in line, is now hunched up in her chair, and I almost don’t recognize her without her makeup on. Her hair is a mess, which is shocking, as she never forgets to tend to it each morning. Her eyes are as pink as a cherry blossom tree; it appears as if she has been crying. It pains me to see my sister in such a state and I feel overcome with guilt. Was it her who was crying this morning? Perhaps I should have listened more carefully to Seiji.

After a while, people begin to fidget and I am reminded of my duties. No matter how much I wish to run over to Honami and help her, I must proceed with the breakfast ceremony. Oh how complicated my life is. Many who think a Shogun’s life is filled with luxury and leisure have the wrong idea. It is much more than that. It is at times like these when I wish that I had been able to lead a more simple life. But, I could never give up my position. No, I am too stubborn for that.


When breakfast is over, I watch Seiji waltz happily out of the room, giggling like an absolute fool, but I don’t stop him for once in my life. I am greeted by my sister, Honami who looks terrible. She has lost her usual glow that we all love about her and she is dead silent. During the meeting I noticed her dabbing a handkerchief to eyes every couple of seconds. She doesn’t make eye contact. What could be the matter? Is it me? I haven’t been able to join in playing games with my brothers and sister as often as I would like, but she knows that my duties require my full concentration. Nevertheless, she is fidgeting more than ever and I am so annoyed by it that I tell her to stop it at once.

“Brother? I didn’t recognize you… I was hoping that Seiji had told you my news… Has he not?” she rambled. “Ah, no we haven’t exactly… had the chance to talk, you see.” I gulp. “Oh, really? Well, I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to be the one to tell you this. Why would Seiji tell the others and not you? Well, never mind…” she replied, her head hanging low. “Spit it out then Honami!” I shout. She flinches, but I do not care. “I have recently been engaged to a wealthy lord by the name of Takamori.” She says. “Congratulations Honami!!” I say, overjoyed. I wonder why she is so distraught. “You are congratulating me? Brother, I have to leave. I must go and live in his castle, you see. Takamori is old and pruny and… Well, I have no choice. I will miss you all terribly.”

I am filled with rage. “Have you forgotten that I am Shogun, sister?” I ask, agitated. “Why, I thought you would not mind, seeing that you are my brother! Don’t you want the best for me?” she replies, offended, but I don’t care. “Yes, but I am Shogun! You should have told me earlier! Besides it is not your decision to make! I decide everything!!” I say, starting to raise my voice. By now, Honami is in tears, “Uggh! Brother! How could you? Can’t you see that I am struggling to cope with it all? Let me leave in peace! I am under a lot of pressure at the moment!” she wails. I am taken aback. “You?! Under pressure? Right!! I have only just become Shogun! Do you think that I am not under pressure?” I say. “You only care about yourself, you pig,” and with that she storms away, leaving me alone.

Soon, I realize that having power is not such a wonderful thing and I am left standing here, wondering wht my next move will be. It seems as if I have forgotten the times when Honami and I used to get along, and now my world has been covered in darkness and despair. My little sister has gone forever. There is no-one to turn to. I am trapped in a cage, and the key has just walked away from me.





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crazyHchan said...
Jan. 17, 2010 at 2:04 am
If you happen to read this, I would really appreciate a comment/feedback! :)
 
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