Every so often you meet a word that you’ve been waiting to meet all your life, but didn’t know where to look. Researching for the A to Z April Challenge 2017 has introduced me to several such words that I know will become an integral part of my vocabulary. Hopefully, you’ll find them worth including in your vocabulary and conversations too.
One such word is Age-Otori, Japanese for… a word that I really could have used as a child.
I was always the kid that came home from having a haircut, looking like a cat that had had its hair plucked out, scarred for life.
I would come home, praying that no one would see me, then hide the rest of the day so no one but my family saw me. My parents, of course, were hardwired to love me, and not to laugh at me, but my older brother and my friends would regard my haircut as something that I had got for their express amusement.
It felt even worse if I had to go to school in the interim, which is why I preferred to have my haircut during the vacations. Schools in India don’t encourage headgear that might help you to hide the hairstylist’s mistakes. And so I had no option but to look silly for the benefit of the general public.
To this day, I don’t know why the salon people got their greenest recruits to practice their non-skills on my head.
If you haven’t guessed by now, Age-Otori (pronounced Aa-gey-oh-toh-ree) is Japanese for the characteristic of looking worse after a haircut.
So I would endure the laughter and the mocking until my hair grew out and then people moved on, until it was time for another haircut and then just like that, it was Age-Otori, back with a vengeance.
Have you ever been Age-Otori?
The other word I have for you is Akihi. A Hawaiian word that I bet they invented after meeting my husband.
The Husband, and I admire this about him, has an instinct for roads and where they might lead. Even in a new location, he manages to find his way around, with or without GPS.
Which is why, when he comes up short and doesn’t know which way to go, he will stew and squirm in the driver’s seat, wondering what he should do.
Should he go this way or that?
Hither or Thither?
He won’t admit that we are lost, that he is lost, hopelessly so, not even when I insist we are and present the evidence in his face.
What he will do instead is undertake a lengthy period of guesswork, where he attempts to figure out which way is the right one? And then he will drive down that road, and then 10 minutes later, we are back where we started.
Two roads diverged in a wood and I,
I took the one I thought was right…
Because it really didn’t make a difference.
Only then will he condescend to do something that I would have done a full half-hour ago: ASK FOR DIRECTIONS.
Then again the way he asks for directions is not the way we mortals might ask. He will ask a passerby for directions, (and heavy-duty ADVERB alert, be forewarned) listen carefully, nod intelligently, diligently ask the guy to repeat himself, then ask several questions, left or right? Blue wall or green wall? Tall wall or short wall?
Then set the car in motion.
The helpful guide who has pointed us down the right path is still visible in the rear-view mirror when the Husband will turn to me and nonchalantly ask, “What did he say?”
That’s what Akihi is: the act of listening to directions, then walking off and promptly forgetting them.
Have you ever seen Akihi in action?