requiem-frances itani

“A picture from Greg was enclosed, three large crayoned stick figures holding hands. It was labelled FAMBLY. A multicoloured rainbow arced across the upper right corner. At the bottom left were a stick-figure dinosaur and a hoodoo, both tiny, as if to let me know that the work I was doing was small, in comparison to FAMBLY.” (15)

i’ve renewed my remaining titles of the evergreen summer reading club the maximum number of times. it’s like if i don’t finish them, it won’t be over-like the wire. i’ve fallen asleep at least three times during the last episode of season five, so i don’t know how it ends. i really appreciated this selection as a continuation of the ongoing theme of alternate WWII stories as presented by canadians. i remember mister murao, my grade 9 math teacher, who grew up in an internment camp. he told us how he used his $21,000 cheque to buy a van. i guess you don’t report the stories of inhumane segregation and sub-par water reserves to a bunch of angsty teenagers-it was probably written into his contract somewhere.

“Like everyone in our Fraser River camp, we would have to pay for our own internment-until the money ran out and Father found a way of earning more.” (105)

“At the beginning, there was no fresh water. Drinking water in covered barrels was brought in by truck from outside the camp. Like everything else, the water had to be paid for, though many people had diarrhea after drinking it. When the truck arrived, men and women brought buckets, pots, any containers they could find, and these were filled from the back of the truck. Three old people died of dysentery and typhoid within the first month of our arrival.” (108)


2 thoughts on “requiem-frances itani

  1. from recruiting men for railroad building and cheap labour to recruiting women for nurses and maids, our country is built on the back of breaking families. now, we’re surprised that they’re broken. go figure:

    “As for me, I knew now why I had been given the extra dessert. My parents had known the entire day what was going to happen. And no matter how much I wept, no matter how much my mother and Keiko wept, I was sent out of the house of my family and moved to the home of my second father. The man I thought to be old, the man who owned an entire shelf of books that had pages of notes, and who was quietly known to everyone as Great Bear.” (184)

    “The truth was, I had never really said goodbye, not even when we were all still living in the camp. She was the one I had missed the most, ever since the day of the picnic, when I was given away. The memories of her were the ones buried deepest, but that had happened when she was alive, not after her death, when I was an adult. I had hunkered down, buried the connection-perhaps to protect it-and I rarely brought it to the surface.” (278)

    “A man who won’t leave the province. Another who won’t enter. Until now. I imagine a painting, panels, a diptych maybe, some sort of split canvas. If I were in it, I’d paint myself out.” (289)

  2. false mosaics:

    “Yes, their names had once been Hiroshi and Keiko. No, they hadn’t bothered to change them back. Yes, it did create confusion each time they applied for a passport. The same agencies that had taken their names away now demanded that the originals be pulled out of storage.” (37)

    “This was true, too. But we’d also seen graffiti scribbled across a subway wall during a recent visit to Toronto, which was /not/ an entirely white city. DEATH TO MIXED RACES we read as our subway car rolled past. Random hate, it seemed, could be anywhere.” (153)

    “I recounted none of these events to Okuma-san. Nor did I tell him that the covers of war comics occasionally turned up in my desk drawer in the classroom. There was always a Japanese soldier depicted on these covers. A soldier with an ugly yellow face, large buck teeth, eyes squinting behind thick glasses. I ripped up the covers and learned not to react. If someone started a fight outside, I did not run away. I did have a few friend, boys my age, and though they did not join the taunting, they did not come to my defense. I t was too risky for them.” (263)

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