My origami crane earrings have lost their crisply folded luster after 18 years. The art student from Calcutta who lived with us in Savannah bought them for me from a Japanese fellow-student. After all these years of wondering at the skill necessary to fold such a tiny crane, I decided give it a try.
First I had to relearn the folds. I groused as I always do when the directions call for knowledge I lack: "make an inverse interior fold." Eventually, it happened: a crane. Then a smaller one. Then a tiny one--not crisp and perfect, perhaps, but maybe next time.
I cannot imagine the heartache felt by Japanese mothers and pregnant women as they worry about the health of their children. I wonder how many of them are folding 1,000 paper cranes, busying their fingers until a better solution becomes clear.
About a year ago, I heard a news story on NPR about gaman, a Japanese word that means to bear the seemingly unbearable with dignity and patience. We Americans need 16 syllables to say what can be said in Japanese with 2. I don't think this is a time for gaman, though. Dignity and patience won't protect those children from radiation. I wonder what Japanese mothers would reply.