Saturday, July 31, 2010
"How Should I Explain?"
I was seven or eight.
Mother took me to a dentist.
The dentist asked her,
“Which kanji is her Kei?”
In the dictionary, forty five different kanji appear under kei.
Out of those, seven are common in names.
Mother told the dentist it was the kei of haikei.
Haikei 拝啓 means “Dear sir.”
On the way home, Mother put away her receipt and started to giggle.
She said my name turned Haiko.
Japanese would ask,
“Which kanji is your Kei?”
I would reply,
“It’s the Kei of keimoshiso or keiji.”
Keimoshiso 啓蒙思想 means democracy
Keiji 啓示 means apocalypse.
Most Japanese get it.
Americans would ask,
“What does Keiko mean?”
I look into their eyes and reply one word at a time,
“My Kei is the kei of keimoshiso or keiji.
Keimoshiso means democracy
Keiji means apocalypse.”
The shape of their mouths forms O.
I exude energy into my speech.
“We don’t use kei alone, but ko means child.”
Nobody gets it, but I can’t help it.
How should I explain?
Just one more time, I open my digital dictionary.
This time, I type only kei and search for my kanji.
A window pops open, and
“Open” pops out.