My One-Eyed Genie

darumaI positioned the daruma in the most prominent spot on my makeshift dresser top shrine. I had purchased the three-inch papier-mâché roly-poly, the smallest among several available versions, for a paltry 300 yen from a temple near Yuki’s house. Apparently it was a Buddhist talisman capable of granting one wish.

My Japanese sister had told me about the magical powers of the daruma. It was surprising to me that a smart girl like Yuki would go along with superstitions like making tissue monks to pray for good weather and buying daruma, but I had observed her many times throwing smoke over her shoulder at the temples and suspected that she prayed.

To invoke the daruma’s powers I took a black marker from my desk and drew one dot in the white of his right eye. Half-blind like me, my talisman would not receive his second pupil until I saw my first love Yasu’s face again. This is what I said as I bowed and clapped my hand as I thought then was tradition. What happened is another matter.

You see, instead of being steadfast and showing patience, I twisted my request and made a version come true.

Mr. Daruma received his left pupil In less than a year’s time.  I reasoned that my original wish to be with Yasu was an extension of my true desire to one day live in Japan.  And so when a more mature Japanese college student offered to keep me I reckoned my real dream was a foregone conclusion

Unfortunately my genie, the gruff-looking daruma disagreed with my decision to amend my wish. He continued with his evil stares—more acute now with his expressive new eyes.

Unable to accept his harsh judgment, I eventually cast out my critic and forged ahead without him. This was quite a mistake as I would come to learn.


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