mitsu And kiku
population o all these villages combined could not have exceeded nine hun-dred households.Nothing remains o those days, with Magome now buried under modernhousing developments. But each time I visit Nagasaki, I always pause there andclose my eyes, imagining what it must have looked like when Mitsu and Kikuwere still alive.Mountains covered with groves o camphor and alder trees. Farmhouses dot-ting the slopes. From the tops o the hills one can look straight down into Naga-saki harbor with its new rice lands reclaimed rom the sea.Several years aer the two girls were born—in 1885, to be exact—the Frenchwriter Pierre Loti, author o the amed
, sang thepraises o the verdant trees hovering over Nagasaki harbor. It was this sameinlet, glimmering in the sun and lush with greenery, that Mitsu and Kiku saw every day.Te little community o Magome, too, was blessed with sunlight and green-ery and yet was so astonishingly quiet. Little birds chirped in the camphor trees.At midday, as those voices tapered o, somewhere a rooster crowed.Te adults all are out working in the elds, and the children are at play. Somany ways to amuse themselves. I can almost make out the small gures o Mitsu and Kiku among the children racing up and down the slopes.It was the grandmother o Mitsu and Kiku who said it: “Mitsu is a spoiledlittle girl, and Kiku is a tomboy!”Her Granny may have called her “a spoiled little girl,” but Mitsu wasn’t thesort to cling like a puppy dog to her mother or her older brother.What was unique about Mitsu’s personality is that she would accept unques-tioningly anything said by an older person. She believed everything she heardso implicitly that some people were le to wonder whether she was mentally decient.For instance, when Mitsu was ve, her older brother Ichijirō gave her somefower seeds.“Hey, see these? Tey’re morning glory seeds!” Ichijirō dropped the gray seeds—one, two, three—into Mitsu’s tiny hand. “Now, Mitsu, i you plant theseand water them every single day, some cute little sprouts’ll come up!”“OK.” With a nod, Mitsu set out running. Across the way, her cousin Kikuwas playing jump rope with some other children. Mitsu gleeully showed hermorning glory seeds to Kiku, and then with a rened gesture, like a high-classlady dropping her valuable jewels one by one into a box, she planted the gray seeds in the ground.Seated by the hearth that evening, Ichijirō, who was ten years older thanMitsu, asked her, “Mitsu, did you plant your seeds?”“Yup,” Mitsu nodded.