We were poor Japanese people who lived in Fukuoka and had little land. We lived in a small grass shack, hardly big enough to fit my wife and five children. Every day my children would cry for food and my wife and I felt that we were not giving them the support they deserved. We didn't have enough money to buy food, and so for every meal my wife would go and peel the bark off of the bare trees and boil them in a small metal cooking pan over a fire. It was hard work, but if we wanted to eat we had to do it. After she boiled it, my oldest daughter would help her wrap little one inch balls of rice inside. Sometimes when we were really lucky she would put in a piece of pickled radish, but this hardly ever happened.
One day we heard horse hooves on the ground and we knew that someone was coming. We got dressed and ran outside. There sitting on a horse was a tall strange looking Haole. He was dressed in a fancy black suit, probably the best suit I had ever seen. He got off of the horse and every one curiously walked over to see what was going on. He talked in a strange language, that I later learned was English. We didn't understand so he talked with his hands. Our leader, the only one who spoke English, understood and translated it to us.
He said, "I am here to take some of you to a land of beautiful scenery and beaches. It is called Hawaii." "But why?," I asked. He said, "You will come and work in the sugar plantation. You will have fair pay, comfortable housing and great medical care."
I soon had a picture painted in my mind. I thought this place must be beautiful with gold paved roads and money growing on trees. I told my wife, "Maybe I should go. Our rice field has not changed for a long time and I think that I should make use of this opportunity. My wife said, "You are right, we do need the money." I said," I will send back money to support you and come back when my contract is over. It's a three year contract, but I'll get by." "Alright," said my wife. "I'll be missing you." When the boat left the dock, all five children and my wife were there, crying and praying that I would come back as soon as possible and bring back money to support them. But most of all they grieved over the leaving of their dad and husband.
The boat ride was very long and I felt sea sick and home sick. There was no place to use the bathroom and so the boat ride was a very putrid one. About one third of the persons on that boat died because of the long ride, sickness and the smell. I struggled to live and I was one of the survivors. When I got to Hawaii, my picture changed completely. It became the same picture I saw every day in my home town in Japan. People were sweating over work in the burning sun, with grass shacks to live in. But what I saw that was different was that on the top of a big hill were enormous houses with big expanses of land. I decided that one of those must be my house. But when another strange man came, he took me and a few others to old grass shacks. I was stunned. I said, "This is not what you promised me in Japan." But the man only said that he was my supervisor, that this was my house and that I would work in those fields and get paid 99 cents a day. I was very upset with these unknown people, but I took it in and pushed it out while I worked in the fields in the burning hot sun.
One night I found the time to write a letter to my wife about the life on the plantation. "Just horrible," I said. I felt tears swelling in my eyes and soon mailed the letter.
Every morning the strange men came to my shack and whipped me to get up at four in the morning. By and by I got used to getting up early. One day while I was out on the fields, weeding the sugarcane, I asked a man, "Who are those strange white people?" He said," They are the Lunas, the foremen. They make sure we get up and work in the morning. They man the fields as boss." Suddenly one came up to us and said, "You were talking," whipping us and said, "Get back to work."
One day I got sick and I didn't get up. The Luna came to whip me, but I was too sore to lift myself. I couldn't move. They called in a doctor and he didn't understand what I was saying. Finally he gave up and told the Luna that nothing was wrong. They forced me up and out of bed. I made it through that day.
One day, I decided that I needed some help so I sent over to Japan a picture of a new young worker instead of a picture of myself in order to get a picture bride. When the Japan boat came to the Hawaii dock, I ran over and pulled my "signed contract" wife on to the side and told her that I was her husband. She was mad and started weeping over her "bad fall down the hill". I felt so sorry and ashamed that I had fooled her and hung my head down low. I tried to soothe her but she pushed me away and asked me where my house was. I told her and she ran to it, tears streaming down her face. After my work was done for the day and I went home, I found the shack very tidy and my wife came out. She said, "I'm sorry for doing that."
We became like a family and soon were complete when we had two boys and one girl. My wife then stayed home and took care of our children, but soon we didn't have much money. We needed money and so every day my wife went out to the fields and stripped the sugar cane leaves with our children on her back. The only thing protecting her face from the sun was her large kerchief.
One day there was going to be a Japanese sumo wrestling match among the laborers. I went and brought along my wife. We watched for a little while, bringing back memories about our hometowns. Then, I started thinking about my family, my real family back in Japan, the worried little faces of my kids and my wife, crying and waiting impatiently for my homecoming. I felt weak and went back to my shack. The next morning, I couldn't get up again, I felt very weak. My wife didn't know what was wrong and the Luna hustled me out of bed and out into the fields. I got weaker and weaker and soon I lay down and never got up. The Luna came and whipped me and soon I saw my wife's face looking down at me. It took up all my strength, but I took out a piece of paper from my bag and wrote a letter to my Japan wife as my Hawaii wife looked at me:
Please take care, and as my last words, good bye. I am now gone.
Yuki closed his eyes and never woke up. The Luna mailed the letter.
In about a month Yuki's wife and children in Japan got the letter and burst out into tears. The mother had to hold on to dear life itself from the hurt that her husband was gone. The children were so very sad. The next day, the oldest daughter committed suicide.
His Japan wife was in so much hurt and pain from the loss of her two most beloved; but, as the days passed on she decided, it was not her time to leave.
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