We had returned home to Air Temple Island just a few days ago when Dad called me into his office. I followed him in and after shutting the door behind us, he took a seat in his chair, there was something about the way he was looking at me, something I couldn’t quite place.
“What is it, Dad?” I asked.
“Jinora, I’ve thought a lot about what you asked me and how you handled yourself during our recent battle with the Red Lotus. I’ve come to a decision. I’ve decided, that you’re ready to receive your tattoos.”
“Dad, you really mean it?” I asked.
“It’s hard to believe that my little girl is ready for her tattoos, but yes Jinora. After the way you led the rest of the airbenders in taking down Zaheer and getting Korra to safety, you’ve more than proven yourself.” He replied. He looked at me in a way he never had before, I’d seen him affectionate, I’d seen him angry, exasperated, annoyed, but this was something new. He looked at me with, respect… like I was, in some way, his equal.
“we’ll hold the ceremony in five days. We’ll gather the other airbenders, the rest of our family, everyone, in the temple. I’ll give you your tattoos in the morning, then that afternoon, we’ll present the newest airbending master.” Dad explained.
It took all of my self-restraint not to jump into the air out of sheer excitement as I walked out of Dad’s office. Finally! Everything I’d spent my whole life training for and working towards, it was all about to pay off!
The next five days felt like an eternity. I just wanted to get my tattoos already! It felt like everything slowed down. I ate, I helped Dad train the new airbenders, I trained, I meditated, just like normal, except all those things felt more like stuff that was standing between me and that ceremony. Eventually, though, the week did pass, and the night before, I stayed up reading a book about the hundred-year war because I was too excited to sleep. Late that night, I heard a knock on my bedroom door.
“Come in,” I said, not bothering to look up to see who it was.
“Jinora?” asked a familiar voice.
I looked up to see GranGran standing in front of me with her hands behind her back.
“GranGran! You came!” I exclaimed, jumping over and wrapping my arms around her.
“Of course Dear, I wouldn’t miss this for the world!” She replied. “I brought you something.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“Here, see for yourself,” she said, handing me a little locked chest.
GranGran was eyeing me with a look that told me this wasn’t just any gift. I could feel the weight of it in my hands, it was heavier than I expected. “What’s inside?” I asked.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” she said. It was obvious she was really happy for me but at the same time, there was a strange sadness to the way she looked at the chest. It made me wonder, but before I could ask her about it, she explained as though she’d heard my thoughts. “I’ve never opened it. It’s not really from me. It’s from your grandfather.”
“Grandpa Aang left this for me?” I asked.
“Yes, even though he passed away before you were born, he knew that there would be a new generation of airbenders eventually. When it began to appear that he wouldn’t live long enough to welcome you into this world, or, to see this day come, he put certain things into that chest and locked it. He gave it to me for safekeeping and told me to give it to you when you received your tattoos,” she explained. “You’ll find the key to the chest in a little sleeve on the bottom.”
I sat down on my bed and stared at the chest for a few minutes, barely noticing the tears streaming down my cheeks. “I’ve always wished Grandpa was still around. There are a ton of things I’d ask him if I could. It seems strange considering I never actually met him but, I miss him.” I admitted.
“I know Sweetheart.” She said, spreading her arms out, inviting me to come to her. I set the chest on the bed and walked over to her, letting her wrap me in a warm embrace, still crying, when I looked up, she was crying too. “I miss him too. He wanted so much to be here when you and your brothers and sister came along, and make no mistake, if he could see you now, he would be very proud.”
“Thank you GranGran,” I replied.
“Your welcome Jinora. Goodnight my dear, I’ll see you tomorrow at the ceremony. I can’t wait.”
I gave her one more hug before she left. “Goodnight GranGran, see you tomorrow,” I said.
She left the room, closing the door behind her. As soon as she left, I sat back down on my bed, took the key from the underside of the chest, and opened it. There were several things inside, on top was a scroll rolled up and tied with a cord made of braided fishing line. I carefully pushed the chord off and unrolled the scroll to reveal a letter that looked like it was written in what I had to assume was Grandpa’s own hand, excited, I started to read:
If you’re reading this, then the day has finally come. You’re about to reach one of the most important milestones in a young airbender’s life. Congratulations! I had hoped to be there with you to give you the contents of this box myself, but if you’re reading this letter, then I must not be. I prepared this gift for you not long after Tenzin, your father, and his wife Pema, your mother, were married since I knew then that they would give rise to the next generation of airbenders.
The first item you will find inside is a bison whistle.
I peered down at the chest in my lap and I saw it, a little wooden bison whistle on a string. It looked very, very old. I picked it up and turned it over between my fingers, examining it closely, then put it down on my bedside table and kept reading...
It may not seem like much, but don’t underestimate its value! That whistle has saved my life and the lives of my friends, more times than I can count, ever since the day I found it by chance in an Earth Kingdom marketplace when your grandmother, your great-uncle Sokka, and I were on our way to the North Pole.
The next item is an amulet. It looks like a very large necklace with wooden beads, four beaded tassels, two on each side, and a big wooden circle with wind spirals carved into it. This was another item I came across in my travels, and unfortunately, it is one of very few genuine Air Nomad artifacts I have to give you. In finding this amulet, I learned the hard way that in the early years of the war, Fire Nation soldiers stole many such objects from the original four temples and used them to lure the survivors into traps. Despite this, it is still precious to me, and I am very grateful that I have it to pass on to you. Be careful, it was over a hundred years old by the time I got it!'
I found the amulet and carefully lifted it up for a closer look. The tassels were a little ragged-looking, but it was still beautiful and it was amazing and humbling to hold something that had once belonged to my pre-war, airbending ancestors. I set it down next to the bison whistle and read the end of Grandpa’s letter.
The third and final gift I have for you is a journal. Inside you will find everything I can remember about what life was like as an Airbender before the war, as well as everything I learned and experienced in my travels. This will take some time to read, I tried to include everything I possibly could. This way, even though I’m not there, I can still teach you all that I can. Understand this, I left this chest and its contents for you because I love you. Even though you do not yet exist as I write this, I love you. Even if you can’t see me, I am there, because we are part of each other, connected by blood and by the gift we share. I’m not sure how, but I would like to think that I would know, even in the Spirit World, that this day has come, and I am so proud of you.
As I read the last part of his letter, I started to cry. This was it. It was everything I could’ve asked for and more, to read his letter, to have his journal, to hear him, even if it was only in my mind, speaking directly to me. I always wanted it, but I never knew how much until I had it.