The question of honour is a difficult thing. For some it means all. For others it isn’t. But then there comes the time where honour, in all its forms, is what you make of it… and yourself.
One must defend honour and family. All else is negotiable.
Honour is an interesting concept when you think about it. Some think that it means nothing—it is a word and nothing more. The idea of someone having honour is, to them at least, nothing more than a fantasy. But, in certain cultures, honour is everything. Honour is more than life, more than anything in their world. To have honour, to have the respect of others giving you that for your actions, beliefs, or something else that means something …
… that’s where things can occasionally come to blows.
Honour was what brought Savannah to where she found herself.
She was back where she never expected to be when she accepted the honour that had been offered to her. Before that moment, she had no honour, no reason to exist; she was invisible in her culture … save for those that wanted to use her.
She stood in front of the home that she had known for many, many years, where she faced the trials and tribulations of her family, remembering the goals they had set for her, ones that she had tried, often, to meet in order to please them. The thing was that there never really was any acknowledgement of her successes, even if they were very important ones to her. No, there was, usually, only a stern look, a short dismissal, and then she would bow—for that was to honour her family—and she would continue on.
Her family expected that she would have a certain education, a certain career, and, of course, when the right suitor, at least from her family’s point of view, came to court her, she would submit to that and become that which was honourable to her family. It was, after all, the honourable thing to do.
But her life didn’t quite go as her family expected. Oh, she did all of the things that they demanded, for honour’s sake, but then, one day, it became too much, and then she needed to make a choice: to shame her family or honour them.
And to be honest, at the time, it was better to honour them.
She looked down over the railing of the bridge to the rushing waters far below. As she did, the scene changed in her thoughts to that moment in the past when …
… when she was standing on the railing about about to jump.
She had felt at peace then, knowing that stepping off would take care of all of her problems. She began to do so, but a voice called out to her …
It was in English, not her own language, but of course she understood it very well, probably better than most native speakers. Of course, honour demanded that she reply, and she did so almost automatically …
She cursed herself then, knowing that she did not reply in English but in her own native tongue. Another bit of honour lost for not being perfect. She stepped down from the railing and turned to walk away from the woman that had asked her why …
… and realized that would not be honourable. Turning to see who it was, she found herself … frozen. A woman, stunningly beautiful, was standing a short distance away. She appeared to be European or American or possibly Canadian; Savannah really wasn’t sure. But she was sure of her green eyes and pleasant smile.
The stranger bowed to her, and in response, of course, Savannah did the same. Then the woman calmly said: “Honour is what we each make of it. You have honoured yourself with a life in which you have done many good things for many others. You have honoured your family name by doing as your family has asked. Nothing that you have done is in any way without honour.”
Savannah was confused. How could someone like this understand the meaning of honour that she felt inside? “My apologies. Your society does not understand honour as we do.”
The woman crossed her arms over her chest: “Perhaps. Perhaps not. However, losing you would be a great loss, and in that would be dishonour.”
Savannah sighed deeply. It wouldn’t be a loss. She had made sure of that. Her family would be taken care of and their lives would be better for it. “I must go.” She turned to leave and found herself walking headlong into the woman that … had been behind her?
“Forgive me. I …”
“You have nothing to apologize for. At least not up to this point in your life. What comes after this moment, however, you can either apologize for or find the honour in it.”
Savannah opened her eyes and looked at the river again, again in the present, again with this woman who was now her mentor and friend.
“What are you thinking about?”
She turned to Tera, who was leaning against the railing, her back against it: “About what you said about honour.”
Tera smiled … a smile that was a little bit troubled. “The honour you have is the one you have made by taking on a challenge that few can accept.”
“I want to tell them. Explain to them that what I have done matters.”
“Obviously you cannot do that, Savannah. There are things you can say, but not that.”
“What would you have me tell them?”
Tera shrugged: “The truth: that you have a place, that you have honour there, value there. That the one you look up to believes in you.”
“It is not likely to be enough.”
“Then we’ll go there together and see.”
Savannah was quite shocked by what Tera had suggested: “They’ll never accept you. You are …”
“I know what I am and what I’m not. What I look like is less important than what I represent.”
Savannah tugged at her bangs with one hand in concern: “What do you represent?”
Tera pushed off of the railing and walked to Savannah: “I represent honour given. I represent the one who gave you a place where they never expected you to be.”
Savannah chuckled: “I know they probably have seen the newspapers, reports of the good works we have done.” Then a sigh: “I know these things are honourable, but do they?”
Tera touched Savannah on the shoulders and turned her to face the home of her parents, the front door open. Her parents, old and wise, waiting there for her. “There’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?”
The walk was short and yet it was the longest that Savannah had ever faced: over the sidewalk, up the short cobblestone steps, and then standing one head lower than her parents. She bowed to them both respectfully and greeted them in the proper, honourable way. She introduced Tera to them, again, respectfully and in the honourable way. Tera then greeted her parents with words that were old, measured, and deeply meaningful to those that knew them. The giving of honour to one’s elders in a way that was not done as much, or as well as it had been in the past. This was note perfect, not a syllable out of place.
There was a long silence, Savannah had looked to the ground beneath her, not wanting to see her parents response to Tera’s words in their eyes.
“Daughter, will you honour us?”
She looked up to see that her parents … seemed at peace, accepting. They bowed and then asked Tera to enter before her but Tera nodded slightly and said, so everyone could understand, “The honour is yours Savannah-chan.”
She said the only thing she could: “Thank you Tera-Sensei.”
Tera’s answer was clear, and her parents would not be able to miss it: “Thank you for the honour you gave when you said yes.”
The only thing that Savannah could think of as she entered was that she was thankful that she didn’t have to explain her horns and tail. That would be … awkward. But the honour of serving in the way she did would be, always, was the greatest honour she would ever know …