“Women are weak, but mothers are strong.”
“We lost weight and grew thin. We stopped bleeding. We stopped dreaming. We stopped wanting.”
“We forgot about Buddha. We forgot about God. We developed a coldness inside us that still has not thawed. I fear my soul has died. We stopped writing home to our mothers. We lost weight and grew thin. We stopped bleeding. We stopped dreaming. We stopped wanting.”
“That night our new husbands took us quickly. They took us calmly. They took us gently, but firmly, and without saying a word. They assumed we were the virgins the matchmakers had promised them we were and they took us with exquisite care. Now let me know if it hurts.
They took us flat on our backs on the bare floor of the Minute Motel. They took us downtown, in second-rate rooms at the Kumamoto Inn. They took us in the best hotels in San Francisco that a yellow man could set foot in at the time. The Kinokuniya Hotel. The Mikado. The Hotel Ogawa. They took us for granted and assumed we would do for them whatever it was we were told. Please turn toward the wall and drop down on your hands and knees (...)
They took us violently, with their fists, whenever we tried to resist. They took us even though we bit them. They took us even though we hit them (...).
They took us cautiously, as though they were afraid we might break. You’re so small. They took us coldly but knowledgeably — In 20 seconds you will lose all control —
and we knew there had been many others before us. They took us as we stared up blankly at the ceiling and waited for it to be over, not realizing that it would not be over for years.”
“It's all in the way you breathe.”
“A Japanese can live on a teaspoonful of rice a day. We were the best breed of worker they had ever hired in their lives.”
“Etsuko was given the name Esther by her teacher, Mr. Slater, on her first day of school. "It's his mother's name," she explained. To which we replied, "So is yours.”
“We forgot about Buddha. We forgot about God. We developed a coldness inside us that still has not thawed. I fear my soul has died. We stopped writing home to our mothers. We lost weight and grew thin. We stopped bleeding. We stopped dreaming. We stopped wanting.?”
“Overnight, our neighbors began to look at us differently. Maybe it was the little girl down the road who no longer waved to us from her farmhouse window. Or the longtime customers who suddenly disappeared from our restaurants and stores. Or our mistress, Mrs. Trimble, who pulled us aside one morning as we were mopping her kitchen and whispered into our ear, "Did you know that the war was coming?" Club ladies began boycotting our fruit stands because they were afraid our produce might be tainted with arsenic. Insurance companies canceled our insurance. Banks froze our bank accounts. Milkmen stopped delivering milk to our doors. "Company orders," one tearful milkman explained. Children took one look at us and ran away like frightened deer. Little old ladies clutched their purses and froze up on the sidewalk at the sight of our husbands and shouted out, "They're here!" And even though our husbands had warned us--They're afraid--still, we were unprepared. Suddenly, to find ourselves the enemy.”
“It would be autumn, and our fathers would be out threshing in the fields. We would walk through the mulberry groves, past the big loquat tree and the old lotus pond, where we used to catch tadpoles in the spring. Our dogs would come running up to us. Our neighbours would wave. Our mothers would be sitting by the well with their sleeves tied up, washing the evening's rice. And when they saw us they would just stand up and stare. "Little girl," they would say to us, "where in the world have you been?”
“Or was their guilt written plainly, and for all the world to see, across their face? Was it their face, in fact, for which they were guilty?”
“There was a man of the cloth—Reverend Shibata of the First Baptist Church—who left urging everyone to forgive and forget. There was a man in a shiny brown suit—fry cook Kanda of Yabu Noodle—who left urging Reverend Shibata to give it a rest.”
“We loved them. We hated them. We wanted to be them. How tall they were, how lovely, how fair. Their long, graceful limbs. Their bright white teeth. Their pale, luminous skin, which disguised all seven blemishes of the face. Their odd but endearing ways, which ceased to amuse - their love for A.I. sauce and high, pointy-toed shoes, their funny, turned-out walk, their tendency to gather in each other's parlors in large, noisy groups and stand around talking, all at once, for hours. Why, we wondered, did it never occur to them to sit down? They seemed so at home in the world. So at ease. They had a confidence that we lacked. And much better hair. So many colors. And we regretted that we could not be more like them.”
“Mostly, they were ashamed of us. Our floppy straw hats and threadbare clothes. Our heavy accents. Every sing oh righ? Our cracked, callused palms. Our deeply lined faces black from years of picking peaches and staking grape plants in the sun. They longed for real fathers with briefcases who went to work in a suit and tie and only mowed the grass on Sundays. They wanted different and better mothers who did not look so worn out. Can't you put on a little lipstick? They dreaded rainy days in the country when we came to pick them up after school in our battered old farm trucks. They never invited over friends to our crowded homes in J-town. We live like beggars. They would not be seen with us at the temple on the Emperor's birthday. They would not celebrate the annual Freeing of the Insects with us at the end of summer in the park. They refused to join hands and dance with us in the streets on the Festival of the Autumnal Equinox. They laughed at us
whenever we insisted that they bow to us first thing in the morning and with each passing day they seemed to slip further and further from our grasp.”
“Because the only way to resist, our husbands had taught us, was by not resisting.”
“MOSTLY, they were ashamed of us.”
“Surely there must be something they had said, or done, surely there must be some mistake they had made, surely they must be guilty of something, some obscure crime, perhaps, of which they were not even aware.”
“Was it their face, in fact, for which they were guilty? Did it fail to please in some way? Worse yet, did it offend? IN”
“They ate at the table like grown-ups. They never cried. They never complained. They never left their chopsticks standing upright in their rice. They played by themselves all day long without making a sound while we worked nearby in the fields. They drew pictures in the dirt for hours. And whenever we tried to pick them up and carry them home they shook their heads and said, “I’m too heavy” or “Mama, rest.” They worried about us when we were tired. They worried about us when we were sad. They knew, without our telling them, when our knees were bothering us or it was our time of the month.”
“They learned that they should always call the restaurant first. Do you serve Japanese?”
“A girl on North Fremont is discouraged by the postman, who tells her that only a traitor would dare exchange letters with the Japanese. NEW”
“They learned that some people are born luckier than others and that things in this world do not always go as you plan. STILL”
“Not once did we ever have the money to buy them a single toy. AND”
“BEYOND THE FARM, they’d heard, there were strange pale children who grew up entirely indoors and knew nothing of the fields and streams. Some of these children, they’d heard, had never even seen a tree.”
“Vi kastade oss in i vårt arbete och blev besatta av tanken på att dra upp ett ogräs till. Vi lade undan våra speglar. Vi slutade kamma håret. Vi struntade i smink. [...] Vi glömde bort Buddha, Vi glömde bort Gud. Vi utvecklade en köld inom oss som ännu inte har tinat upp. [...] Vi slutade skriva hem till våra mödrar. Vi gick ner i vikt och blev magra. Vi slutade blöda. Vi slutade drömma. Vi slutade längta. Vi bara arbetade, det var allt (s. 52-53).”
“One must not get too attached to the things of this world. AS”
“We praised them when they were kind to others but told them not to expect to be rewarded for their good deeds. We scolded them whenever they tried to talk back. We taught them never to accept a handout. We taught them never to brag. We taught them everything we knew.”
“A fortune begins with a penny.”
“SOME SAID that the men had been put on trains and sent far away, over the mountains, to the coldest part of the country. Some said they were enemy collaborators and would be deported within days. Some said they had been shot. Many of us dismissed the rumors as rumors but found ourselves spreading them—wildly, recklessly, and seemingly against our own will—nonetheless. Others of us refused to speak of the missing men by day but at night they came to us in our dreams.”
“Many of us had lost everything and left saying nothing at all. All of us left wearing white numbered identification tags tied to our collars and lapels.”
“In time, the Navy would compile statistics showing that for a career Navy pilot, i.e., one who intended to keep flying for twenty years... there was a 23 percent probability that he would die in an aircraft accident. This did not even include combat deaths, since the military did not classify death in combat as accidental.”
“It made her sad, thinking about the consequences of their anger, their thirst for revenge. Her husband was gone, ripped from her, and for what? People were dying, and for what? She thought how things could've gone so differently, how they'd had all these dreams, unrealistic perhaps, of a real change in power, an easy fix to impossible and intractable problems. Back then she'd been unfairly treaded, but at least she'd been safe. There had been injustice, but she'd been in love. Did that make it okay? Which sacrifice made more sense?”
“Then, Zil and a half dozen of his crew swaggered into the plaza from the far side. Astrid clenched her jaw. Would the crowd turn on them? She almost hoped so. People thought because she wouldn’t let Sam go after Zil she must not really despise the Human Crew’s Leader. That was wrong. She hated Zil. Hated everything he had done and everything he had tried to do.
Edilio moved quickly between Zil and a few of the boys who had started toward him, sticks and knives at the ready.
Zil’s kids were armed with knives and bats, and so were those who wanted to take them on. Edilio was armed with an assault rifle.
Astrid hated that this was what life so often came down to: my weapon is bigger than your weapon.
If Sam were here it would be about his hands. Everyone had either seen what Sam could do, or heard the stories retold in vivid detail. No one challenged Sam.”
“There is nothing more satisfying than having plans.”
“What are you?" she asked. "A monster," said Kell hoarsely. "You'd better let me go." The girl gave a small, mocking laugh. "Monsters don't faint in the presence of ladies." "Ladies don't dress like men and pick pockets," retorted Kell. Her smile only sharpened. "What are you really?" "Tied to your bed," said Kell matter-of-factly. "And?" His brow furrowed. "And in trouble.”
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