I participated in the session of March 2017. In March, it was no luxury to have a warrior by your side. A warrior? Yes, a warrior, because no matter how pacific all the members of this mission were, every day we had a battle to fight. A fight that was often tough, not against misery, surrender or injustice, but a fight for Health. A fight to rekindle the flame, under the shelter, with armoury that was much too heavy and much too cumbersome for the little bodies of children. In my luggage, to pass the time during the stopovers, I had brought a book by Inoue Yasushi: “The Samurai Banner of Furin Kazan”.
The Takeda family, in particular its most famous descendant Takeda Singen, became famous through its art of military strategy. At each battle, two flags were flown for the Takeda clan. One gave thanks to the God of Suwa (worshipping the god of war), the other bore in letters of gold on a blue background the following motto: Fu Rin Ka Zan. This motto echoes a recommendation made to armies by Sun Tzu in his “Art of War”: an army as swift as the Wind (Fu), as gentle as the Forest (Rin), as fierce as Fire (Ka), as unshakeable as the Mountain (Zan). Takeda Shingen became famous for applying this motto literally, thus winning a battle that seemed lost in advance, his army being so much smaller. In all modesty we too could have embroidered this motto on the Docosteocam banner.
Swift, this was what we had to be, as there were so many children waiting for us. Swift enough to find the flame and rekindle it, without getting lost in the meanders of tissue already saturated by so much history. Swift between each treatment, always address the challenges, never, ever drop your guard.
Gentle and soothing like the forest can be when it provides coolness and rest. But there in the wood prowls the wolf. And so gently, without waking it, let the tissue speak, in the quiet, without any intentions. Gently using a towel to cover up the little girls cramped in their pleated skirts, hiding their secret, a secret they want to share with no one. Gentle like the “Mums” taking care of these children, day after day, with kindness and humility. Having treated some of them myself, their history has often been no easier than that of the children, and even so the love they have for them is unlimited. Gentle and respectful of so much love and abnegation.
Fierce as the fire, when gentleness is no longer the answer, when revolt is in the air. Moving forward in tight formation, cropping and slaying the hordes of “ghosts and ghouls” when it becomes urgent to preserve the flame from their attacks.
Finally, the Mountain, my friends, my brothers in arms, our group. Stolid from its snow-covered summits down to the first foothills covered with trees trembling with the wind, sometimes bowing under its assaults. How comforting it was to witness one person’s smile, another’s wink of complicity, to see a child sleeping, appeased by caring hands. How good it was to feel we were breathing in unison, all with the same purpose, united under the same banner, in spite of the diversity of our origins, and our training.
On the road to Prey-Veng, where anorexic cows graze in paddy fields surrounded by palm trees, we tested our “Haikus”. I offer you one of mine – true or false 21st century “Haiku” from the Berry region of France:
Eye to the infinite,
Waiting for Breeze and Tide.
Brave brothers in arms.
I prefer to finish with this one, a true Haiku from the 20th century by Santoka, a Zen monk (member of the New Trend which called for a repeal of the 5-7-5 syllabic rule):
silently the bamboo shoot
becomes a bamboo