“You seldom know exactly what someone is thinking, but when sharing food, you know just what the person is experiencing. They ate in silence.” (136)
“Four broken hearts were trying their best.” (209)
happy canaduh day, i’m in america. i chose this one because it’s another alternative world war II story that’s been chosen by the ontario librarian’s association. this time, a mixed-race man pieces together the stories of his grandparents, and it’s kind of the reverse of david suzuki‘s latest book to his grandchildren. i like that he brought to light the similarities of the misery of war, to show that strange human propensity to go to great lengths to be at war, when it’s so much easier not to be.
“It mattered little that Canada’s national security-army, navy, and RCMP-were all on record stating there was no security issue. Vitriol of that degree gets attention. It whips up, it grows, and it often wins.” (90)
“The huts were built of wood and had a dirt floor. They had been hastily set up. The Japanese had not anticipated capturing prisoners, let alone bringing them to Japan.” (130)
“Ralph would think later that it was ironic. Of all the things that had taken him to the edge-bullets, mortars, bayonets, diphtheria, the hellship journey-of all these things, it was snow that had come closest to sending this Canadian boy to his grave.” (131)
“Scarcity leads to tough decisions. Should they take family albums or extra rice? Letters from family in Japan or an extra blanket? They were in survival mode and didn’t have the luxury of being sentimental. You couldn’t eat pictures, and letters wouldn’t keep you warm on a cold winter night unless you burned them.” (99)
“You can do a lot of things when dignity is set aside. You wrap your dignity up and gently place it in the back of your mind, like a cherished heirloom. It may not see the light of day for months, but the knowledge that it is there is the most important thing you have.” (120)
on this birthday of our nation, i think it’s important to note this part of our history, but also the huge capacity to move beyond it. i remember my grade ten math teacher, mister murao, who told us that he didn’t know that he grew up on a beet farm because everyone he knew and loved was there, and later when he got a settlement from the government, he bought a van. shouts to him, and his family that must’ve been on some life is beautiful shit.
“At five, he’d been beaten enough to understand that the strong can force themselves on the weak. He had never been the strong. He liked turning the tables.” (25)
“He told his mother he was fine, but his handwriting gave him away.” (121)
“Like the decision to send Ralph Augustus McLean to war.
Like the decision to intern Mitsue and Hideo Sakamoto.
The decisions made within this room had sealed my grandparents’ fate. They had been condemned there, apprehended there, abandoned there. They had been left for dead there.” (232)
“My grandparents bore witness to the worst in humanity. Yet they also managed to illuminate the finest in humanity. Their hearts were my home. I saw none of the ugliness they had. I felt none of the bitterness.
How on earth did they manage that?
Forgiveness is moving on. It is a daily act that looks forward. Forgiveness smiles.” (237)
“Ralph broke down sometimes. All the men who had been in the war had.” (172)
“Mitsue and Ralph became instant friends. There was an unspoken understanding between them. They were both far too polite to state it, to address it. But they felt they knew each other. Deep down, they knew each other. They had both discarded the past, keeping only what they needed, leaving the rest behind. They did not compare hardships or measure injustices. They knew there was no merit to that…..Breaking down is the easy part. Anyone, at any time, can break down. The act of coming together again is what makes a hero. Moving on, with an open heart, seems, at times, impossible. But it’s not.” (182)
“But I realized now that forgiveness is not a a transaction. It is not an exchange. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the past.” (237)
i guess that old adage is true-smile and the world smiles with you. frown, and you’re a miserable lonely cunt.