106. Symbolic Serving
Oyasama was confined in Nara Prison for twelve days starting from October 29, 1882. While Oyasama was in prison, Shirobei Umetani stayed at the Residence. Every day during the twelve days, he got up before dawn and walked some eleven kilometers to Nara Prison with Shinnosuke, the first Shimbashira, and other seniors to bring things to Oyasama. About the time they arrived at Nara, the sky would begin to turn gray. It would be about nine o’clock when they returned to the Residence after delivering the things.
One day, the party of three were attempting to pass the gate of the jail without greeting the gatekeepers. They were stopped and threatened that they would not be allowed to go home because they had not greeted the gatekeepers. The three persons apologized and knelt down with their hands in the muddy ground, after which they were allowed to go.
At the Residence, visitors were harassed by police officers on guard at the entrance. In addition, different officers would come to investigate as often as three times during a night, so that people in the Residence could sleep for only two hours or so each night.
On November 9th, Oyasama was met by numerous persons when She returned to the Residence. She called Umetani to Her and said:
“Shirobei, thank you very much for your trouble. I did not feel hungry at all, thank you.”
In the prison they could only deliver things for Oyasama and were not allowed to see Her. No one could have told Her that it was Shirobei who had delivered the things. Therefore, Umetani wondered how She knew that it was he.
While Oyasama was in prison, Shirobei’s wife, Tane, in Osaka also prepared meals for Oyasama and served Her symbolically every day, calling to mind Oyasama’s hardship.
It was on the next day, the tenth, and thereafter that Shirobei was allowed to make personal inquiries of Oyasama without an intermediary.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 89–90 Continue reading Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 106