Chapter 12 – Cha is Born –
With a now clear and intuitive realization, Grandfather wiped the remaining tears from his eyes, stood, and began to walk toward Cha grazing by the river’s edge. Gremha followed as both men now appeared resolved in the direction of their futures.
Grandfather said, “Let us stop at Lia’s to sell our roots, seeds, and barks. She will be pleased by the early spring flowers we have added to the mix.”
With Cha in tow, these noble warriors passed through the busy market activity and headed toward Lia’s market location.
As soon as Lia saw the General, she let out a very ecstatic exclamation, “General! So happy and delighted to see you! I was hoping you would come today. This must be the grandson that everyone is talking about.”
At the conclusion of this joyful hello, Lia reached out her robe covered arms and pulled Grandfather close and tightly embraced the General holding him for several seconds.
“Hello my good friend.” Grandfather said. Gremha saw that Grandfather was a bit embarrassed by the fuss Lia made as several of the onlookers were now paying attention to the commotion. “We have brought you several of the forest herbs today.”
Lia responded with joy as her market table was busy today. Several new patrons began to congregate around her table sensing something new and exciting was being added. Lia motioned to one of her helpers to take over the table as she led Grandfather and Gremha to the tent around to the side of all the activity.
“It is so good to see you General”, said Lia, again giving him an extended hug. This time the General reciprocated with a similar embrace of his own.
As Lia began to look through the many forest delicacies in the several bags hanging from Cha’s back, she looked at Gremha with loving eyes. She approached Gremha and then asked, “May I hug you sir?”
Before Gremha uttered a response, Lia reached out to extend her grand welcome one more time. Gremha just directed a bemused stare Grandfather’s way as Grandfather just smiled.
Grandfather interupted Gremha’s awkwardness by saying, “Gremha, I have been coming to Lia’s market table every year to sell our mountain herbs. Lia has been a good friend long before this. Prior to our exile to the mountains Lia was a confidant and an incredibly good friend of your mother. She was present at the time of your mother’s passing during your birth. She has always extended great affection toward our family. In fact, Lia had been your mother’s attendant at the wedding of your mother and your father before you were born. She knows a great deal of the answers to the many questions you have asked me about our family over the years. Lia holds your mother in sincere esteem.”
Gremha was puzzled as to why he had never heard this before, but because of what he and Grandfather had been experiencing on such an emotional day, he kept these thoughts to himself. With great pride and a humble heart Gremha redirected his confusion and further extended the warm greeting toward Lia. This time he reached out and held Lia as if he had been waiting to hold her for a exceptionally long time. There was a newly bewildered expression on Lia’s face as Grandfather again smiled brightly.
Gremha said, “Thank you Lia for loving my mother.”
Gremha then extended his arms while holding Lia with his outstretched hands. While doing this he looked into Lia’s soft brown eyes as if to communicate 14 years of pent up emotion. It was the look of a loving son never having looked upon the eyes of either his mother or his father.
Lia said, “The Emperor and your mother would be very proud of you Gremha.”
Grandfather began to untie the several bags from Cha’s back while Lia reached under her robe to unwrap a bag of money from her thigh. She then pulled out several coins and extended them to the General.
Grandfather in turn responded, “Lia, today is year 14 commemorating Gremha’s birth as well the last day his mother was with us. I will soon be departing to join the coming fight of the new Emperor in the east. Gremha will be your provider of the mountain herbs from the forest in the fall. He will also begin providing you a new herb. We call it Tu. It is green in color. It is also bitter to the taste. Tu provides a mental clarity and calm focus unlike any of the other mountain products we provide. We have learned that it enhances our meditation when brewing in a warm beverage moments before and during meditation and prayer. It can be chewed as well while still providing similar benefits.”
Grandfather reached into the last bag from Cha’s back and pulled out several small Tu leaves along with several Tu blossoms that had been picked this morning. He placed one in his mouth and handed one each to Lia and Gremha.
After a few moments, Lia stated, “It is kind that you would bring these new Tu leaves to me, but I am saddened by the knowledge there is war in the distance and you will be attending. It would be an honor however, to conduct my business with Gremha until your return.”
Upon the completion on this statement, Gremha looked at Grandfather knowing he did not want Lia to know any more of what both he and Gremha were aware of.
Grandfather responded, “Thank you Lia. You have always been such a kind friend to our family. The love you extend is greatly appreciated.”
As Lia was chewing on the newly discovered herb, she began to nod her head in acceptance and approval of the refreshing and invigorating effect of calm concentration. “I am worried, however about its name,” she said. “I cannot call this exciting new green bitter herb Tu for I already have an herb that is exceedingly popular with my patrons called Tu. This orange colored root comes from all over our land and provides a great relief from many of the aches and pains of the body.”
While focusing her gaze upon the ground in deep contemplation, Lia slowly looked up at Gremha and asked, “What on this earth do you love with all your heart other than the Great Sacred Spirit and Grandfather?”
Gremha without hesitation responded, “Well, Cha of course!”
“Then we will call this newly discovered magical herb you have brought me; ‘Cha’,” said Lia.
Both Grandfather and Gremha turned to look at each other with nodding approval.
“Cha has a namesake.” said Grandfather. “We must now head back to Tamurai as Jian and his wife are preparing a meal for us before we return to our home. Thank you so much Lia for the generous sum you have paid us for our forest herbs. I am also so grateful that you have had a chance to see Gremha on his fourteenth year of birth.”
Once again, Lia extended to both the General and Gremha a long hearty hug. She next turned toward the market activity carrying the new additions to her many herbs already laid out upon the tables.
Grandfather and Gremha proceeded to walk toward Tamurai, this time on the far side of the market street avoiding the Yellow Room.
As the two walked through the front door of Tamurai, they could smell freshly roasted herbs in the air. The room full of aromas were an enticing invitation to the grand meal about to be presented. All patrons of Tamurai were missing from the meditation room now. Only Jian and his wife Bai were to be seen. Bowls were filled with the enticing aromatic food. Bai had filled the bowls earlier from the large black kettle hanging over the fire located in oversized fireplace.
“Hello, once more,” said Jian as the two travelers took a seat on the long-extended table they had shared just a few hours before.
“Hello, my friend,” said Grandfather. “The meal you have prepared smells wonderful. I presume it was prepared by you Bai. You are so kind to provide it before our return home.”
Jian responded quickly, “Yes, General, you remember so well my attempts over the years to cook our meals at the completion of our many battles. They could never match what Bai does in the kitchen!”
As the two guests and their hosts briefly laughed, they also caught up on memories and activities over the past winter’s season.
Jian then redirected the conversation by asking, “General, I would like to make you an offer if you chose to return to the east to assist the Emperor in this fight. I would make myself available to Gremha in your absence as I know he will need assistance without you. My assistance will be only until your return. Bai and I have discussed it while you were gone today. She would have no trouble running Tamurai in my absence as she has more than enough help to assist her.”
After a long pause in conversation, Gremha interrupted and said, “Grandfather and I would be honored to have your assistance Jian as I am sure I will need your help.” So as not to have Grandfather struggle with his response knowing what the future had in store for him, Gremha felt obliged to reply.
Jian then said, “It is a wise decision Gremha. I am honored that you enthusiastically accept. Jian then turned to Bai with loving eyes, leaned over and embraced her while still seated at the long wood dinner table.
Grandfather stood and said, “We have a long journey ahead of us gentlemen. We need to return home before sunset.”
Gremha and Jian stood to depart as well. Grandfather and Gremha extended appreciation for the filling and flavorful meal, as well as respectful salutations toward Bai. They then departed into the tumultuous village market. Jian gave Bai one last embrace and they both gently kissed before he followed.
As Jian was departing through the front door of Tamurai, Bai lunged forward and loudly said, “I love you Jian. You are doing the right thing.”
Jian turned and responded, “I love you too Bai and I agree.”
As Grandfather completed the untethering of Cha, he began his last march toward a place called home for the last 14 years.