The End of the Sugar Roots Journey, Seeing the Old Sugar Mill Down the Road for the First Time
A letter written the following day from Sara to her teacher.
|Dear Mrs.Inouye, > I don't want them to tear down the mill. Right now tears are streaming > down my face because they are going to tear down the mill. Its a historical > place in my history and I don't want it to leave me even if it is not useful > its still not right. I am going to write a note to the governor and I would > appreciate it if you would help me. It made me understand about my history > and the Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Okinawans, Portuguese,and the > Caucasions. It's not fair!! It's my history and I feel that I will not let some > foreigner and her husband tear down that mill just to build their house. > They were not here long enough to even find out about the sugar plantation of > Hawaii and I don't think they even care if they tear down apart of alot of > peoples heart and history including mine. They were probably big business > people and they don't understand the value that that mill has. I don't want > my place in history to be teared down and I will try my hardest to keep that > mill standing. I don't care if it is collapsing, they should still leave it > up no matter if its up and well doing or ruins on that site. When I saw the > mill I had tears in my eyes and when I found the marble and the broken piece of > chawang bowl, I was astonished. I ran up to you saying look look what I > found. while I was touching it and holding it in my palm I could actually > picture every person on the plantation working in the fields or playing games > on the floor. I could actually see every one of the plantation workers in the > old mill and when I saw the old shutters up on the top I thought I caught a > glimpse of a Japanese worker sticking his head out and peering at me. It made > me feel cold yet warm inside. Please help me keep this mill standing or at > least not be teared down. Mrs. Inouye please call me. > > Your student that doesn't want the mill to be teared > down as seemed as the only one of my family, > Sara|
You are about to learn one of life's continual lesson. Time moves forward, the mill tore my heart the first time I saw it three years ago. That is why I guess I was drawn to go there again because it was a monumental blow to us the people, that the last siren has blown. I remember looking at the river flowing outward, the waves crashing violently against the base of the old mill, as though ebbing away at its skeleton. The sagging roof, like an old man who could move no more. Inside I said, "there is my culture, my roots, my memories." Playing on the dirt roads, seeing the cane trucks driving by with stalks dragging on the ground. There was the people who lived humbly and happily in all the camps throughout the state. That "old man" provided life, built community, gave identity and united people of many tongues together. I don't want today, I want yesterday. I want the good old days back. I used to catch swordtails, medakas, crayfish in the pumps. I played hours and hours in the cane fields and walked in the flowing waters. Those days, we were raw innocence. But, Sara that chawang bowl will always be in your roots. The only way it can be taken away is if you devalue your ancestors. When you saw the chawang piece, you felt the hearts of the plantation people. The "talking story" the visiting neighbors, the hot rice cooking over the kerosene stove. You saw men coming home at 3 pm taking off their soiled shirts, hanging their hats and maybe pulling out their pack of cigarette. You saw neighbors working with neighbors at the mill. The baseball games, the social gatherings. But, Sara, write about the past, hold it in print and in your heart. Move onward. Think what can a community be like in the future that will capture another young girl's heart and claim it's glory. If we do not let go, it would be a limited vision. That is not what history was meant to teach us. Mrs. Inouye told all of you that history is to learn from. Can we continue to starve our people? The immigrants cut their ties and moved onwards. They brought their roots to the new land and created something that we call, "The good old days." Their values, their innocence, their hard work and kindheartedness created the camp life. Our task is to create again, keep the values and take advantage of what we have today. But of all things be careful when we say, "Progress" Many of our people have thought that money and material conveniences brought happiness. But think again. Sara, the plantation will never leave you. You spiritually wrapped your heart and soul around it yesterday. Sara, the ancestors are grateful that you came. No one ever wants to be forgotten, they struggled for us, they prayed for our education, and to grow up to be whole descent virtuous individuals. You were a welcome site with your vivid conciousness of their souls. Your grandpa left deep values in you. But his time is over. Mrs. Inouye and all the people in your life will leave an impression with you, but you will move on. Grow Sara, grow.
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