The Divine Spirit

Murasama Yoshimitsu woke up with the cries of seagulls circling around Osaka harbor. It was a lovely morning with the red sun rising over the never ending ocean. Yoshi san was fresh as the morning dew. It was a morning with promises. It was a morning of duty. It was a morning for love. Unfortunately the Nihonga or the Japanese language did not have a word for the western love. It has only one word. Honbun. It meant duty. What’s love for a samurai? Yoshi san was a samurai, like his forefathers, dating back to the famous Murasama san, who was the fabled Katana swordsmith during 13th century feudal Japan.

Yesterday Yoshi san had received the missive from the commandant that he was supposed to lead the latest sortie on the Allied Forces ships in Atlantic. World War II was coming to it’s end. Emporer Hirohito was preparing his Imperial Cortege to accept the submission of the Western Devils. Yoshi san was jubilant. It was a clear victory for the Imperial forces! The Japanese were highly understaffed and under equipped. The Allied Forces had advanced weapons and ships. But they had human beings to man them. The Imperial Army had samurai. The killing machines, who thought that the best thing one can achieve is the death for his lord. Retreat was never an option. Death was glory.

Yoshi san knew his fate. It was  Seppekku in the honor of the Mikado, The Emporer. Seppekku, commonly known as Hara Kiri was the ritual suicide for one’s lord and master. It was an honor beyond measure. Only a samurai was allowed Seppekku. How many people can choose the ultimate culmination of the most beautiful flower in the universe, the human life? People beg and scream. They fight the most beautiful and enchanting woman in universe! Death. She laughs in their face and spurns them. The brave goes to her and bows down. She smiles and embraces them.

Yoshi san’s father helped him to bathe. He had a light snack of fish and rice, as was the custom. A Tori was erected in the middle of their small fore yard, facing east. It was just a symbolic door. Arches of white paper. White being the color of death. The male of the Yin Yang. The Pure One. Yoshi san sat there in sizei. Both legs under his buttocks. He went into trance as taught by his Zen master. His Dai Sho- the twin swords, manufactured by his famed ancestor- were at his right. Murasama Yoshimitsu didn’t complete the Seppekku by cutting open his bowels, using the shorter wakizashi in a vertical and a horizontal cut. He had higher and loftier plans. However, he wrote his death poem. The time honored haiku.

Seagulls cry, for food.
Vast sea with its rich treasure. 
What a waste of tears! 

He woke up from the self induced trance and walked towards his father. He bowed to him and went to his small room. He was ready within a few minutes and left.

The ride to Osaka aerodrome took 40 minutes. There were 4 other young men sitting with him. Yoshi san didn’t talk to them. He was busy answering questions to himself. That was the known answer to boredom as Zen taught. Ask questions, which you can’t answer. When you are able to answer all the questions, you are Buddha. The Enlightened One. He was unable to answer many questions.

The single engine planes which were assigned to these pilots were pathetic. They had just one seat for the pilot, devoid of any safety features, as a parachute or anything. There was no gunner placement, neither a gun. Instead, the entire fuselage was crammed stiff with high grade explosives. It was a flying bomb! It was incomprehensible how the Imperial Army was supposed to take over the Allied Forces, when they had Gatling guns and rockets on their 6 seater Gnats. The modified Cessnas, which the Imperial Army used were really utilized by the farmers in Texas to fumigate their crops. But, the arrogant pilots were so proud of their steed as a brat may be of his new wooden sword. Sometimes, a wooden sword may cut too, if handled correctly, doesn’t it? How about the Bokken, in Kenjutsu? As initiated by the fabled samurai turned ronin, Miyamoto Mushashi and his style, Go Rin No Sho? The way of five rings? Yoshi san’s forefather also forged the fabled Issogai for Mushashi san. For Life! What a name for a sword! These wretched westerners call women beautiful! Sword is beautiful! Death is beautiful! Yoshi looked at the sunswept fields…. Life is beautiful!

The plane was loaded. Ground clearance given. All the eight planes took off methodically. Radio silence was mandatory. They went due north for a mile and then turned sharply to north-north east. It was a fabulous sight to watch eight planes going straight and then suddenly veering a sharp right. Like a dream moving in all its dimensions.

They sighted four ships moving towards Tokyo. All eight planes zeroed in. Suddenly the Gatling guns on board of the pilot ship became alive. It was a lost battle. They winged one of the planes. The pilot still managed to glide towards the ship, but failed in his mission. The plane crashed in the placid and all encompassing ocean, which buried the brave pilot in her ample bosom, like a mom cuddling her favorite child.

Yoshi avoided those tracer bullets. He had one target. His short sword -Wakizashi -was on the dashboard of his plane. He knew what he had to do. The heavy oil tanker was beneath him. He circled around like a hawk and then plunged for the kill…

He saw her lover smiling. And, it was something beyond Honbun. It was beyond duty. It was pure love! He wrote his last haiku again. But, this was not ceremonial. This was a real Death Haiku.

Red cherry blossoms
Fickle as a passing wind
Just a falling flower 

The little plane with 2500 pounds of explosives crashed into the oil tanker. Like a slowly gliding cherry blossom. The birds in the sky lived to tell the tale.

Murasama Yoshimitsu was a Kamikaze.