Ties in Seattle

Des had just gotten on his motorcycle, about to take off when he spotted Chantoya coming down the sidewalk.  He turned off the engine and slid off the seat.  Adjusting his shirt and smoothing his hair down, he walked over to her.  “Hi there,” he said when he was standing in front of her.

A big smile broke out on her face.  “Hi yourself,” she exclaimed before hugging him.  “It’s so good to see you.  It has been a while.  How have you been?”

“I’ve traveling a lot.  Just got back from South Korea.”

“South Korea?  What’s it like there?”

“It’s a great place.  I was there for a month and loved every minute of it.  The culture, the history, the food and the people made it worthwhile.”

“I’d love to hear more about your trip, Des.  How about we meet tomorrow afternoon at Squirrel Chops?”

“Sure.  What time?”

“Is five okay with you?”

“Yes, it is.”

“I’m sorry I can’t stay and chat more but I’m on my way to the theatre.”

“Okay.  Don’t let me keep you.”

She touched him on his arm.  “It was really great seeing you.”

“Ditto.  Have fun at the theatre.”

“Thanks.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Anneyeong, Chantoya.”  He smiled.  “That means goodbye in Korean.”

She laughed.  “I’m impressed.  ‘Bye, Des.”

black woman with afro hair

 

He watched her walk away and then returned to his bike.  He hopped on and after putting on his helmet, he pulled out of the parking space.  As he merged with the traffic, he wondered if Chantoya had a date.  She was all dressed up, looking pretty as usual.  He had thought about her all that time he was in Korea. 
He went to Seoul Yangnyeong Market with every intention of buying her a gift but at the last minute, he decided not to.  It probably wouldn’t have been a good idea since Chantoya was Shelley’s room-mate.   Shelley was his ex-girlfriend.  They had been dating for four years until they broke up last year.  She wanted to get married but he didn’t.  So, they parted ways.  In retrospect, he realized that she wasn’t the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.  Since the breakup, he hadn’t seen Chantoya until today.

During their exchange a few minutes ago, neither mentioned Shelley.  Perhaps, it wasn’t necessary.  He wondered if Chantoya would tell her that she had bumped into him.  Maybe that too wasn’t necessary.  Perhaps, Shelley had moved on.  At least, he hoped she had.

Chantoya met her date, Calvin outside of the Paramount Theatre.  They were going to see the musical Wicked.  Calvin looked handsome in his dark suit but when they hugged, she didn’t feel any spark.  It was more like hugging a friend.  As they walked through the doors and up to the orchestra section, she thought about Des and wondered what he was doing at that moment.  It was really great seeing him again.  She had wanted to get in touch with him after he broke up with Shelley but decided that it wasn’t a good idea.  How would it look her getting in touch with her room-mate’s ex?  It had been a tough time for Shelley who really checked for him but she tried to help her to see that it wouldn’t have been good continuing the relationship when it was clear that Des and she weren’t on the same page when it came to marriage.

Chantoya realized that he hadn’t asked about Shelley.  If he had, she would have told him that she had moved to New York.  I’ll tell him tomorrow when I see him, she decided.

“So, did you have a good time at the theatre?” Des asked her when they were sitting by the window having Lattes.

“I really enjoyed Wicked.”

“Did you go alone?”

“No.  I went with Calvin.”

“Is he your boyfriend?”

She shook her head.  “No.  I went out with him a couple of times but after last night, I decided to stop seeing him.”

“What made you decide that?”

“I wasn’t attracted to him.”

“Is there someone you’re attracted to?”

She looked at him.  Their eyes met and held.  “Yes.”

I hope it’s me.  “Who’s the lucky guy?”

“You.”

He reached over and put his hand over hers.  “The attraction is mutual, Chantoya,” he said quietly.

“I’ve been trying to fight it all of these years because of Shelley.  After you broke up with her, I wanted to call you but didn’t think it was wise or proper to do so.  Then, after she moved to New York, I thought about getting in touch with you again.”

“So, she finally moved to New York.  When we were together, she talked about us moving there.  I like New York but I’ve never wanted to live there.”

“She hasn’t been in touch with me since she moved there.  Maybe she has decided to cut all ties here.”

“Maybe.  I hope she finds happiness in New York.  My ties are right here–in Seattle.”

“Mine too.”  She looked down at their hands.

Sometimes relationships don’t work out because the two people involved are meant be with other people.

Sources:  Yelp;The Culture Trip;Trip Advisor; Seattle Theatre Group

The Apology

The other night when my husband and I were watching TVO, we saw a clip of director Tiffany Tsiung’s latest film, The Apology.  The film is about the more than  200,000 women and girls across Asia who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War.  “Now in their 80s and 90s, these former comfort women are demanding an official apology from a reluctant Japanese government. This documentary follows the heart wrenching and transformative journeys of Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines as they confront their painful past.”

What are “comfort women”?  “Comfort women were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II.  The name “comfort women” is a translation of the Japanese ianfu, an euphemism for “prostitutes”.”

The Japanese had what they thought were legitimate reasons for establishing the comfort stations.  It was to prevent rape crimes committed by Japanese army personnel which would curb the rise of hostility among people in occupied areas.  The Japanese Army established the comfort stations to prevent venereal diseases and rape by Japanese soldiers, to provide comfort to soldiers and head off espionage.

The first comfort station was established in the Japanese concession in Shanghai in 1932.  Earlier comfort women were Japanese prostitutes who volunteered for such service.  However, as Japan continued military expansion, the military found itself short of Japanese volunteers, and turned to the local population to coerce women into serving in these stations, or abducted them.  Many women responded to calls for work as factory workers or nurses, and did not know that they were being pressed into sexual slavery.

How anyone could think that providing women for comfort to soldiers was a good idea, is beyond me.  These women suffered such atrocities, it is heart wrenching.  “Approximately three quarters of comfort women died, and most survivors were left infertile due to sexual trauma or sexually transmitted diseases.  Beatings and physical torture were said to be common. The women who not were prostitutes prior to joining the “comfort women corps”, especially those taken in by force, were normally “broken in” by being raped.

One Korean women, Kim Hak-sun stated in a 1991 interview about how she was drafted into the “comfort women corps” in 1941: “When I was 17 years old, the Japanese soldiers came along in a truck, beat us [her and a friend], and then dragged us into the back. I was told if I were drafted, I could earn lots of money in a textile factory…The first day I was raped and the rapes never stopped…I was born a woman but never lived as a woman…I feel sick when I come close to a man. Not just Japanese men, but all men-even my own husband who saved me from the brothel. I shiver whenever I see a Japanese flag…Why should I feel ashamed? I don’t have to feel ashamed.” Kim stated that she was raped 30-40 times a day, everyday of the year during her time as a “comfort woman”. 

Comfort women were seen as female ammunition and public toilets, to be used and abused.  They were forced to donate blood for the treatment of wounded soldiers.  The Korean women made up at least 80% of the “comfort women” but were assigned to the lower ranks while Japanese and European women were reserved for the officers.  In Korea, premarital sex is widely disapproved of so the Korean teenagers who were taken into the “comfort women corps” were virgins.  It was believed that this was the best way to limit the spread of venereal diseases to the soldiers and sailors because they didn’t want them to be incapacitated.

After what these women have endured, it is high time that the Japanese government apologizes to them.  They are the voices of the other women who died, their cries against the injustice they suffered silenced forever.  It is time for the Japanese government to step up and do what is right.

Here’s the trailer.  If you live in Canada, you can watch the film on TVO tonight at 9pm.

Source:  Wikipedia