25 October 2015

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Thoughts on Elders and Twenty Again (by guest writer W. Miguasha)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on October 25, 2015
kakashi: Hi all! Twenty Again is over, but our thoughts linger on ... a reader of this blog has submitted a short entry, which I really liked, so I'm posting it here. It's on "Loss of connection with the stories of the elders". Written by W. Miguasha. Maybe you have your own stories about the elders to share?


Moments when there is an exchange between members of different generations is of interest to me.

In the series Twenty Again, the young choreographer, Na Soon-Gam, is the first of the young people to stand up for No-Ra, a woman who is trying to make it back into civilization, after 20 years in the 'no-man's-land' that is her marriage.
At the other end of the spectrum is the scene where the "young-Cha" is sitting with Grand-Mother, gulping down her food. Young Cha also has a voracious hunger for Grand-Mother’s stories, such as when the six year old No-Ra drank rice wine at the village festival and teetered as she danced around.
The young Cha (fabulous actor) responds to Grand-Mother’s question with a ‘yes’ and a giggle, and in his voice we can hear delicious enjoyment. He revels as the old woman tells him stories. We learn from the grand-mother that No-Ra is not related to her by blood. No-Ra’s father died when she was young. Her mother abandoned her. No-Ra was taken in by a woman who will be both father and mother to her.
We learn that Cha is a boy who is a boarder at the school he attends with No-Ra. His mother died when he was a young. His father is remarried. He will miss seeing No-Ra dance on stage at 18 because of a phone call, informing him that his father has collapsed.

We learn that Ra Yoon-Young, also a classmate back in high school, was something of a bully and very catty young woman. When she scoffs at the young Cha’s budding attempts at producing, No-Ra is the country bumpkin who stands up to Yoon-Young and encourages Cha to forge ahead. In defending the awkward Cha, No-Ra brings him out of his shell. He follows her home and befriends Grand-Mother.
I like this connecting of the generations. I can easily close my eyes and feel as though I am 5, sitting on my Grand-Father's lap, listening to his heart beat, calmed by his slow breathing, and noticing how he listens, then responds to others in the room.

Twenty Again is a series that present several characters that either are orphans or they are virtual orphans. The ‘keeper of the connection’ with the source of life contained in the village stories, is a young boy who steals away from boarding school on weekends to go sit in a rice-cake shop and listens to the stories of an old woman. He will dangle the smell and taste of Grand-Mother’s rice-cakes in front of No-Ra and hint to her that the root of his deep-seated anger toward her is No-Ra’s disappearance from Grand-Mother’s life.
Is Cha the handsome man and famous producer, who rides in on his white horse to do everything for No-Ra? Perhaps. But he is her connection to the old woman who gave life to No-Ra. He knows her story. Her origin. Her genesis. Her history. He not only saves No-Ra, but he saves Professor Kim Woo-Chul. He saves Professor Kim Yi-Jin. He saves Kim Min-Soo. And, he saves himself. By passing on love and life from Grand-Mother.

As I watch No-Ra eat rice-cakes, I can hear the motor on my grand-father’s boat as he comes in to dock; I can see him gutting the trout; I watch him rolling the fish in batter; smell it frying; taste the trout in my mouth. I remember my grand-father’s stories. There isn’t one I have forgotten.

If Twenty Again is fiction, it nevertheless has truth: a city kid with parents who work hard at their jobs and get home at six and are gone again at six, will listen to your stories about your grand-mother and your grand-father. Your stories will give a young person origin, genesis, history, identity.

Twenty Again reminds us that when there is a loss of connection with elders, it does not take much to pass on to a young boy or a young girl a bit of history. About a trout. About a six year old getting drunk on rice wine.

No matter our age, we gathered together on Friday and Saturday night to listen to this story. We listened to So Hyeon-Kyeong’s story. When I hear the voice of the young Cha as he answer ‘Yes’ to Grand-Mother, the sound of his voice is delicious. Like my grand-father’s trout.

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