You may recognize who I am. There are many others out there like me: ones that share similar pasts, and even similar physical and personal attributes. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with it: That I am not unique, or special, at least, this version of me isn’t. No, I am one of many who live in worlds made up by those who want to belong. Although she tells me that there is someone in her world like me, waiting to be born, but she cannot live, until I finish the story. I couldn’t believe her. Everything I had worked so hard for was all a lie. I wanted it to be real. However, I still wanted it to be possible, that if anyone out there, in those other worlds would listen to my tale, I would be remembered for something. So, I will begin my accounts, as I made a promise to not only her, but also the ones I love, that I will put our account to rest, so that the other me would begin hers.
It all began when I was a child, about five or six. It was a normal, chilly fall day in my home village of the name “Funshi,” which translates to “music.” It was recess. I sat on the steps. The girls on my right were playing dolls on the porch, while the boys in the middle of the courtyard were playing ninjas and samurai. I was a strange one. I didn’t particularly enjoy playing dolls, not because I didn’t like to play pretend, but because my story was one they never liked. They didn’t like my doll being a superhero, or a secret agent. They wanted my characters to be simple mothers with seven children. I never understood why anyone at that age would want to be something ordinary when their imaginations could take them anywhere. Instead of being a horse racer, or a store manager, they could be a commander on a space-station far away from here, or even a ninja, like the boys would often do. Why didn’t I play with the boys? I was too nervous. I knew if I asked, they would immediately question why a girl would want to play with them, and accuse me of being a cry-baby. If I knew what I knew now, I would never worry about what they thought of me. Of course, that’s what everyone says.
But today was the day I was going to muster up the courage to approach the boys. I walked slowly up to them, as they cheered and shouted war cries.
“Um…Excuse me?” I said in a mousey voice.
The group of boys broke up their circle and looked at me.
“Oh, it’s Kamara” one of the boys scoffed.
“Come on, you know girls don’t play samurai and ninja! They only wanna play…princesses and…other girly stuff!” said another.
But then, one of the boys, who had brown, unkept hair, wide eyes, and freckles, spoke up.
“Come on Joey, let’s give her a shot!” he encouraged, “Who knows? She may be a really good fighter!”
The boys looked at each other, then back at Joey, who was the ginger haired, glasses wearing kid that first addressed me. Then, he sighed.
“Okay, just…Try not to get in our way, Kamara!” He warned.
I remember the freckled boy handing me a wooden sword with a warm smile.
“Nevermind Joey,” he told me, “He just doesn’t like girls because he has annoying sisters.”
I looked up at him. “Do you?” I asked.
“Well, yeah, I do have a sister” he replied, “But she’s not annoying at all! We get along well.” I smiled.
“That’s nice. Momma wants to have a girl, but the doctor isn’t sure she can have any more babies.”
I don’t know why I was telling this to him, I had no reason to. But for some reason, when he mentioned having a sister that was nice to him, I suddenly felt comfortable. Plus, there was something really friendly about that boy that I didn’t see in anyone else. I normally didn’t like boys, because they always acted like they needed to prove something, even in that young age. I would never encourage my son to be that way. Sure, girls and boys are different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be nice to them, or treat them with respect.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. The boys shouted at each other in Japanese, as they believed ninjas and samurai always did that before battle (boy, were they wrong!). Then, we began to spar. I was a ninja. It started out so well. At the very least, I was able to defend myself. I stayed close to the freckled boy, as he was the only one I found I could trust. But something went wrong. Somebody got the jump on me. I don’t remember who it was. I suspect it was Joey. Whatever happened, I lost control. The wind…It came to my aid…But I couldn’t tell it what to do.
The freckled boy shouted my name and rushed to my help. Suddenly, a big branch off the cherry blossom tree in the courtyard snapped, and flew towards us. I ducked, but he didn’t have time to react. The branch blundered into his little body. I heard a snap, and a cry. The branch had rolled over him, but the tiny twigs attached to it sliced his face. Tears formed in his eyes, as the wound began to bleed. All of the adults came running into the courtyard, shouting and panicking. I stood there for a hot minute, frozen. I knew I was responsible. Then, I turned my heel, and ran. It was the first time in my life I ran away from my problems.
I didn’t exactly run away permanently. I eventually found my way home. I was cold, hungry, and dirty. I can’t recall my parents reactions. I can predict that they had been worried sick about me, and were angry, sad, and relieved at the same time. They had pulled me out of that school. I never saw anyone from that school again, even the freckled boy. Nor would I want to. I would be too ashamed. My mom decided to homeschool me. Looking back, that may have been where my problems began. I might have been safe from myself, and from others, but the fear never left.
So you might be wondering, dear reader, why I mentioned the wind. Why did I mention, “how it came to my aid?” I couldn’t explain it when I was little. My mother and father told me the wind was my friend, and it wanted to protect me. After the incident, I was afraid whether or not it would strike when it didn’t need to. Was it secretly a ghost? Why did it want to protect me, out of all the other little boys and girls? All of that changed when Sensei Wu arrived.
He arrived on a dreary afternoon in April. I was playing my violin. It was the one thing that truly relaxed me. When I played my violin, I felt more in-tuned with the natural world. I could hear the wind blow outside, I could hear it speak to me, not like a spirit would, but somehow, it would tell me what was coming over it. That day I could hear someone approaching my room. It was an unfamiliar entity. When the person knocked on my door, I replied to them to come in. It was not my mother, nor my father, but an elderly man. He wore a simple white robe and black belt, with wooden sandals. He had a bald head, which was covered with a straw kasa hat, blue eyes, and a long, white beard. He looked straight out of one of the old folktales my old teachers would tell me.
“Greetings little one” he said in a slightly hoarse, but cheery voice, “You must be Kamara.”
I nodded. “Yes, I’m Kamara. Who’re you?”
He bowed in greeting as he responded. “My name is Wu.”
“Are you my mommy and daddy’s friend?”
“Well, something like that. I’m a friend of the family. I am here to talk to you about your gift.”
Wu’s words frightened me. At first, I believed he was here to talk about the incident with the boys six months before.
“I don’t know what I did! I didn’t mean to hurt those boys! Honest!” I cried, “I’m sorry! I really am!”
Wu laughed. “Little one, I’m not here for that! I’m here to help you.”
“How?” I asked.
Wu walked over to my bed and slowly sat down. He patted the bed space next to me.
“Come. Sit with me.”
I looked at him for a moment, a little suspicious. Then I walked forward, and sat next to him.
“Tell me little one, what do you know about the story of how Ninjago came to be?” Wu asked.
“I know that a man simply known as the First…” I thought hard about the word I was trying to say, “…First…Whirl-itzu-?” My voice trailed off.
“Spinjitzu” Wu corrected.
“Yes, the First Spinjitzu Master,” I continued, “He created Ninjago using the four elemental weapons: the Sword of Fire, the Scythe of Quakes, the Nunchucks of Lightning, and the Shurikens of Ice. When he passed away, he left the elemental weapons to his two sons, so that no bad guys would get them and destroy the world.”
“That’s right, little one” expressed Wu.
The old man paused for a moment, stroking his beard. Then, he turned to me. “Kamara, it is quite possible that you possess one of this elements.”
My eyes widened. I thought for a moment that maybe I misheard him. I possessed an elemental power? Just like the elemental masters that we always hear about in History class!? An ancient power that no one had in the last 500 years!
“You have an elemental power, which in itself is rare, but what’s even more intriguing is that you have a power that’s even more rare than the four main elements!”
Wu stretched out the palm of his hand. I could feel the air in the room concentrating on the point that we were sitting. Then, in Wu’s hand, I could see concretely the air swirling at a fast rate creating a tiny tornado. I was in awe of what seemed like a dream.
“Wow…” I breathed.
Wu smiled. “Unfortunately, I cannot do anything bigger than this-” he turned to me, “-Not like you.”
I suddenly realized who this stranger was, and when I did, I was suddenly paralyzed. Not in fear, but in awe and wonder. I knew I had seen him before! A legend was standing right in my own bedroom. A legend from the day the First Spinjitzu Master breathed life into Ninjago.
“You’re…You’re his son!” I suddenly gasped, “You’re the son of the First Spinjitzu Master!”
Wu grinned. “You are correct” he answered.
“But how? I thought all of the elemental masters were gone, like he was!”
Wu shook his head. “No, not gone, only hiding, and watching.”
He stood up, and put his hands behind his back.
“Little one, I haven’t seen an elemental master in the past 300 years. But, the discovery of a wind user is a sign that time is beginning to change.”
“Is that why the wind always comes to help me?” I asked, disregarding his comment about “time is beginning to change…”
Wu looked up. “Kamara, I want to train you to control these powers. I want to teach you to be…unafraid of these powers, and use them for good. Will you let me help you?”
I was speechless for a minute. I have an elemental power! I’m a wind master! I have something no one has had for centuries!
“What about my mom and dad?”
“They have already agreed to let you go. Training as an elemental master can take weeks, even years. Of course, you are free to visit your family on holidays. But otherwise, you won’t be able to come home until you have completed your training.”
I lowered. I wasn’t too fond of the idea of leaving my family for all but a few days out of the year. I was six years old at the time. Leaving home felt like the most horrible thing I could do. But to become an elemental master… I knew better not to pass up such an opportunity. I looked up and nodded.
“I’ll do it.”