The past few days have been nothing but me idly sitting by my view at the balcony. I write here, most of the time, taking in the day.
There were these short, brief moments when I would stop and stare at the little rain puddle the warm Summer has made in the hollow curve on the courtyard ground; how drops from the sky would find its way back up there through the ripples. When this happens, I constantly think of you throwing one crystal orb after another, waiting until they hit the puddle, waiting until you would collect them and throw them back to the ground--all over again.
The little puddle on the ground has been a constant guest for the past several years. I haven't taken count. You've been gone for so long that all I have to remind me of how far have I not been seeing you is this dirthole. The deeper it goes, the longer it has been since we last gazed at each other's eyes. But of course, I should have taken account of Jin Young digging the hole deeper back in his younger years.
He is doing alright, if you ask. And just like what you've prayed and asked badly for from the gods, he turned out healthy. Our precious child--no longer a child now--is free from any malady or condition you dreaded him to have. It's a constant thing that I would like to write and inform you about, because we all still never know how things would turn out eventually. Yoon Myung Joo and I still continue to check on him from time to time, asking him the same questions we would ask you about your health, but he didn't want us doing that. He would insist that he was fine after running several rounds around our house back in the day.
Yoon Myung Joo and I have led the infirmary you started excellently. Excellently. Back when we were younger, we were the head nurses and physicians of it, and we sought help from different scholars in medical advances. Our time was brief, and we had to pass the legacy on. I wanted to be there for our son as often as I can, and so I had to withdraw from taking a huge duty.
I am just worried, as his mother. As much as I did not want you to suffer, I too do not want the same for him. I know you would feel the same too, Yoo Si Jin. It's funny, honestly. I see you in our Young Jin. He has his father's eyes, always a source of joy.
Recently, he has been feeling antsy and nervous, but I am just guessing that he is overjoyed and excited for what's coming.
How are you, anyway?
I have been writing to you a lot, telling you everything that has taken place in my life since you left, but now I realize everything was just all about me. But you...I would never know how you are doing. Do you watch me from where you are? Do you listen to everything I say, or look at everything I put in paper?
Is your view of the moon better than mine? Do wishes come true where you are?
Do you still think I am the most beautiful woman you have ever seen, even if my hair has turned into fine, silver strands? Even if my fair, smooth skin has been jarred and wrinkled by time?
Would you still love me even at this point in my time?
"Halmeoni," A little voice crept from behind Mo Yeon. She quickly closed the book, set aside the pen and turned towards the angelic voice right behind her. Seeing her granddaugher in her beautiful, jade-colored hanbok made her blink her tears away.
"My dear, what's with that sad look in your face?" Mo Yeon asked her.
"I can't play today,"
"Because it's raining,"
Mo Yeon laughed, and pulled her granddaughter to a tight embrace, "Aigoo, my dear Ji Yeon. Perhaps this is just nature's way of telling you that you need to take a rest. You have been running around endlessly yesterday. And..."
"...and the day before that,"
Ji Yeon frowned, her arms quickly crossing one atop the other. "I want to go to the gardens, halmeoni,"
"I know you want that. I know how you want to be out so badly, my little one," Mo Yeon placed both her hands above the little girl's shoulders, gently smoothing the loose ends of her jeogori, "I was once like you when I was your age,"
"Geundae, how come you know? Abeoji told me you no longer remember that much about your past. He said you forgot about everything,"
Mo Yeon smiled, looking back at the courtyard gardens being gradually doused with rainfall, and then back at her granddaughter. Her dark-brown pupils filled with wonder.
"What your father forgot telling you was that someone told me everything about me. Everything that I needed to know, and everything that I have forgotten, somebody has told me about it,"
"Ne," Mo Yeon smiled. "He would have been thrilled to see you,"
Ji Yeon nodded. "What did he say you were back then?"
Mo Yeon hummed while recalling the days when Yoo Si Jin would recount their days as two kids. The garden. Their promises. "Compared to your grandfather, I was running everywhere. Mostly I was out in the sun, skipping through gardens, hidden in flowers, and chasing butterflies. He said I did not know when to rest. I did not know when to stop. Just like you,"
It was only when she finished talking that she realized Ji Yeon no longer had her attention on her. Seeing her tilting her head and peering to the side, Mo Yeon quickly followed her gaze and found out she was looking at the book atop her small table.
"Are you writing to him again?"
Mo Yeon blinked, "I always write to him," It was understood by the whole household that its matriarch cannot live a day without writing, and even the youngest of heirs would know that. Moreover, they knew to whom Kang Mo Yeon was devoting her time with this. Although they would oftentimes see this as bizarre or unusual, her son Yoo Jin Young and his family gave her the space for it; whenever she was outside, writing by the balcony while she would be facing the courtyard, she was spending time writing to their father, her husband.
But kids as young as Ji Yeon would always be curious, "But you're aware that Harabeoji won't be coming back, right?"
"Of course I am. He won't in this lifetime, but I am sure the day will come when I will be with him again. It is as sure as the sun rising the next day," Mo Yeon smiled and lifted the book from the table, "Here. This is just one of the many other books I have written to him. Do you want to take a look?"
Ji Yeon half-heartedly lifted her hands to receive the journal. Mo Yeon gave it to her, and when she received the book with her small hands, little Ji Yeon flipped it open page by page without putting much time to read the whole account. "You are telling him about your day. It's too mundane, don't you think, Halmeoni?"
"Your grandfather would appreciate even the most mundane of things, my dearest," She smiled, taking the book back, "He wants to listen to everything. Every detail of what happens, what you feel, what brings joy or sorrow in you. He was always that attentive even when he was still living,"
"He sounded different in books,"
"I've read a few books in Abeoji's library," Ji Yeon pointed out. Si Jin's library has already been branded as Yoo Jin Young's library by her granddaughter, "It was written that he was a war minister. That could only mean that he was strict and tight, doesn't it, Halmeoni?"
"He was a successful leader at his prime years. The books weren't wrong about that, but have you heard about a story in your grandfather's own narrative?"
She shot a look of disbelief, "Does that exist?"
Mo Yeon giggled and stood up slowly from her seat. After dusting off her chima and taking her book and brush with her, she bent down and reached for Ji Yeon's hand, pulling her near to her side, "Follow me then," Mo Yeon padded along the hallway with her granddaughter by her side. The rain was ceaseless, slowly filling the courtyard with puddles here and there. Ji Yeon would look towards the landscape and sigh; clearly, the weather was not allowing her to play outside.
Her eyes were glued outside althroughout just until their walking came to a stop. She looked towards the side and see her and her grandmother right before her father's library.
"This was your grandfather's library before it has been passed on to your father," Mo Yeon looked at her granddaughter with a smile, "I bet you never know that much about this place,"
"Are we allowed to enter?"
"Your father is not around. And besides, I am the eldest person of this house," Mo Yeon scoffed proudly, "Your father can never go against me. If he does, I will surely be mad,"
Ji Yeon giggled. "Halmeoni, you are mean," She watched as Mo Yeon pulled the doors of the room gently, revealing the clean interior of her father's office.
For Kang Mo Yeon, things within it have changed. The doors were replaced, and most of the furniture inside the office was either no longer Si Jin's, or were newly added ones. The place was more crowded compared to when Si Jin was using the room. A tougher job our son has, Yoo Si Jin-ssi, she sighed as she entered the room with her granddaughter.
They stood in the middle of the room. Ji Yeon looked at either shelves stationed on each side of the office. They were all filled and packed with scholarly books and literature, "Is it here?"
"Ani," Mo Yeon replied.
"Then why are we here, Halmeoni?"
"Because you're not looking beyond all of this," She explained, slowly walking towards the wall behind the table. Her fingers locked on the hidden grooves and she slowly pushed them aside, revealing the hidden lair behind the room. She could hear Ji Yeon's astonished gasp behind her, and it formed a smile on her face. She had the exact reaction back when Yoo Si Jin revealed the secret of this room.
Before her was the old shelves that contained Yoo Si Jin's old books, as well as the journals he had written long ago. On another side of the secret room, were shelves filled with her journals--everything she had been writing up to this day were all stored inside it. Mo Yeon's head slowly turned just behind her shoulders to look at Ji Yeon, whose eyes were wide open at the sight.
"This is going to keep you busy in the rain," Mo Yeon led her in when the wooden gates of the household cranking open can be heard from where they were standing. Galloping and whinning of horses faintly intruded the peace of the house. "Oh dear,"
"I think your father is here,"
In just a matter of seconds, the door stormed open, revealing a well-built man. His clothes were drenched with the rain, and his hat hanging from behind his neck. Moreover, he looked astonished seeing two women inside his office. "Eomeoni? Ji Yeon-ah?"
"Abeoji," Ji Yeon immediately bowed to greet her father. Seeing this, he immediately bowed before them, most especially that his mother was before him.
When he lifted his head, he walked towards them with slow steps, "Not that you are prohibited to be here, but why are you inside?"
"I wanted to see Harabeoji's writing," Ji Yeon casually said with a smile, "Halmeoni said he had written a lot,"
"Clearly. He influenced her in doing so," Jin Young smiled, "Isn't that right, Eomeoni?"
Mo Yeon nodded, looking at her son, taking in how much of a gem he was to her, and especially towards Yoo Si Jin. "Ne, Yoo Jin Young. But why did you arrive early? It's far till the sun sets,"
He scratched his head, "I wanted to be home early. I had to stop by here because I saw the office open. Besides, I didn't come here alone,"
Mo Yeon gazed behind her to see Ji Yeon taking a book from one of the old shelves. Assured that her granddaughter was doing well, she turned back to her son, "Who is with you?"
"Seo Dae Young-harabeonim and Yoon Myung Joo-halmeonim came with me," Jin Young grinned--the same way Yoo Si Jin did, "They are just as worried as I am,"
"Well," Mo Yeon smiled and walked towards her son. Cupping his cheeks, she spoke proudly. "We can't blame them. They are your wife's parents, after all,"
"I guess so, Eomeoni," He smiled, "I better go see her,"
"Not with this!" Mo Yeon pointed towards his clothes; they were dripping wet all over the floor, "Aish. Do you want to greet your second child with drenched clothes? It's too unpresentable! Do you want to catch a cold?"
"Mianhe, I'll go change--"
"Better do that before you meet her. Aiyoo. Some husband you are," She nudged him towards the door, "Go. Your wife would be thrilled to see you. We will follow after,"
Watching Jin Young race outside the door and towards the hallway was a nostalgic sight for Kang Mo Yeon. She recalled him small, zooming everywhere and anywhere in the house. Now, he had a family of his own, a good position as Joseon's Minister of Rites, and a reputation just as strong and as respected as Si Jin's.
"How time flies, Ji Yeon-ah," She turned towards her granddaughter, who was currently occupied in reading one of Yoo Si Jin's old journals. Seated on the floor of the secret library, the little girl held the book right in front of her, slowly reading each beautifully-handwritten line by the man she had never seen nor encountered in her life.
"Halmeoni," She looked back up to her with a smile on her face, "I wish I saw him,"
"Nugu ji?" Mo Yeon asked, and Ji Yeon eventually pointed at the book.
Yoo Si Jin-ssi,
We welcomed another member of the family yesterday. Yoo Jin Young, along with his wife, had their second child. A son.
I wish you saw him. He was just as tiny as our son was when he was born; so fragile, like the first snowfall of winter. Like the flowers that bloom beneath the full moon. Compared to Ji Yeon, he was quiet. Serene. As though the world would never be a bother for him to live in.
I could never be much happier as this for them.
Seeing everything from a higher level, from a deeper wisdom, and even from a wider share of experience simply gives me much more appreciation to what is happening, as well as that longing of you being here, witnessing it with me. I do think that everything is better when I have you concretely by my side, listening to every word. Everytime, I would just glance down to my finger and see the ring you gave me. Every night, before I sleep, I would stare at the hairpin you brought back to me. If these things had been with me for so long...why can't you?
Writing helps. But how long would I continue on with this?
I just want to be with you again.
It's winter. about five decades since your last snow.
Looking at the trees reminds me of myself: cold, withered, losing life. I write with a blurry vision of this paper. My writing is crooked. I know not to keep myself consistent anymore, but I still find this huge urgency to write.
Jin Young says I'm beginning to forget things. I am misplacing journals--mine and yours. A few of them I've lost while reading. Your ring, I almost lost if it weren't for little Ji Yeon's keen eyes. I would never take it off again. Perhaps the head accident is beginning to haunt me once more.
I'm worried, Yoo Si Jin-ssi.
I don't want to forget you, or us. I just want to keep you in my mind if I can never keep you in my arms. I don't want to stop writing; if it means not forgetting, I will never stop even if I write gibberish. I just have to know I'm writing for you. I'm talking with you.
Either this world would not take my memory away, or let it lead me to you instantly. I don't care anymore.
Please help me.
"Is she alright?"
Myung Joo was the first person to show up that morning. Despite being old, she still wanted to visit an old friend. The person who greeted her by the gates was none other than Jin Young. He looked sullen as he stood right in front of the doorway with a lamp, as though he had that mournful expression all night.
Clearly, by the looks of his face, Kang Mo Yeon was not doing well.
"Does she...still write to him?"
Jin Young shook his head facing the ground, "Not anymore. Not in three months,"
Three months? Myung Joo was alarmed. Mo Yeon was the kind of woman who never missed a day of her devotion. "Is she ill?"
"Terribly," He answered, "Eomeoni is getting weak. She