Excerpt of Honolulu by Alan Brennert
(Page 7 of 9)
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I was thinking perhaps misoyaki, he said with studied casualness.
They are Japanese.
I was more than mildly surprised, but said only, Perhaps some mochi for
When will they be coming?
Tomorrow evening at six oclock.
We spoke no more of it until the following evening at six, when a spindly
Japanese man in a threadbare suit entered the restaurant with his wife and
four children in tow. I was not looking at them but at himthere was an
earnest grace to the way he bowed to me, smiled and said, Hello. We have
table. I am Taizo.
I bowed in return. Konicha wa, Taizo-san. I am honored to meet you.
My name is Jinmy husband has told me much about you.
And he speaks of you with great fondness. This is my wife, Tamiko.
I looked at the woman standing behind him, holding an infant child, and
surely betrayed my surprise at seeing my old friend from the Nippon Maru.
Tamiko smiled and bowed, then said, as if we were meeting for the first
time: I am pleased to meet you, Jin-san. This is my daughter Sugi, my sons
Hiroshi and Jiro, and our newest child, who is also named Jin. Is that not a
coincidence? Her eyes glittered with amusement. In Japanese it means
Jae-sun appeared from the kitchen, greeting Taiko with evident warmth
as he escorted the family to a table. As Tamiko and I followed behind our
husbands we exchanged wordless smiles. But Jiro was regarding me uncertainly,
perhaps with a faint memory of crackseed on his tongue. I know
you, he said at last.
Of course you do, I said, pulling a chair out for him. We are all going
to be great friends.
As these ties were renewed, so were others. At the start of the
Christian New Year of 1924, I had received a letter from my
elder brother, informing me that Blossom, now sixteen years old, had made
another attempt to flee the Pak home. The weariness in which he couched
this news made me think that perhaps the time was finally right to again
broach a sore subject. Whats more, the following month would see the start
of the Korean Year of the Rat. It had been the Year of the Rat twelve years
ago, when Blossom first came to our home in Pojogae, and I took this as an
auspicious omen. After consulting with Jae-sun, I wrote to Joyful Day:
It sounds as if little sister-in-law is becoming increasingly
troublesome. Someone who so obviously hates where she is will hardly
make for a pliant and dutiful wife. Would it not be better for all
concerned if she were to come here to Hawai'i instead?
My husband and I are prepared to offer you the sum of one hundred
dollarstwo hundred yento dissolve Blossoms obligation to the clan.
We will also pay for her steamer fare to Hawai'i. You need do nothing but
apply for the proper papers. If Father will not consider sister-in-laws
well-being, perhaps he will consider what two hundred yen might do for
The reply, which arrived a month later, was brief and to the point:
Father has given due consideration to your generous offer and wishes
me to tell you that he agrees to your terms.
Please advise us on how you wish to proceed.
Your elder brother
I was ecstatic and wrote back to request they begin the process of applying
for Blossoms passport and visa. Once they had obtained these, we would
send them a steamship ticket and either mail or wire them the hundred dollars.
But in order for Blossom to enter the country, she had to be engaged to
marry a man in the United States. I discreetly inquired of several young men
of our acquaintance whether they would be willing to lend their names to the
fiction of an arranged marriage. Ronald Yun, the twenty-year-old son of a
neighbor, agreed to assist in this bit of subterfugeeven to marry Blossom
if there was no other way to get her into the country, a marriage that would
later be annulled.
Excerpted from Honolulu
by Alan Brennert, Copyright © 2009 by Alan Brennert. Excerpted by
permission of St. Martin's Press, a division of Macmillan, Inc. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.