Michael G. Malaghan
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
Editor’s note: We continue Michael G. Malaghan’s serialized historical novel, “Picture Bride — A Family Saga,” based on the Japanese immigrant experience. Malaghan’s trilogy takes readers from turn-of-the-20th-century-Japan to Hawai‘i in the picture bride era; the Islands during World War II, highlighted by the exploits of the Nisei soldiers; and beyond.
The novel, which is now available as a printed softcover book, opens with 12-year-old Haru-chan, fleeing her home in Amakusa, Kyüshü, for Hiroshima, where she becomes the picture bride of a Buddhist priest in Hawai‘i.
Author Michael Malaghan is a retired businessman who divides his time between Hawai‘i, Florida and Japan.
Fighting fatigue, Kenji drove toward Uno’s shrine from the Tebbits clinic, where after learning of Mayo’s passing and finding Tamatsuke sleeping, the nurse told Kenji that the doctor had dropped off Haru. His fists tightened around the steering wheel as he thought of officiating at the double-funeral later that day. Mother and daughter. There was no time to dwell on the senselessness of it all. In fewer than 48 hours, the strike would begin. A strike for which they were unprepared. Despite the tragedy, or more likely because of it, he recalled how the 1909 strike had failed due to lack of money. He ran down a list of Japanese business owners, tradesmen and those in the professional class that he needed to tap for donations. So little time. He was thinking of asking Sam to solicit funds from the paniolos (cowboys) when he spotted Haru walking from Uno’s shrine. He gave his horn’s bulb a quick squeeze. Haru turned and smiled with relief. Kenji slowed until the car stopped beside her.
“It’s already a long day,” said Haru, sliding into the passenger seat. She recounted Mayo’s last minutes. “Holding her hand, I was thinking of the evil Bilkerton has let loose.”
“A weak man,” said Kenji. “I doubt he ordered the burning of the Fujimoto home. Not a smart thing to do. But you have it right. He let loose the evil in MacFarlane with no qualms or consideration of its consequences.”
“Yet Bilkerton attends church. Calls himself a Christian.”
Kenji, who admired the life of Christ and his teachings, never left a direct attack on that faith go unanswered. “I don’t think Christ would have approved of Bilkerton any more than Buddha or the Shinto saints approve of Amakusan parents selling their children to brothels.”
“Sometimes I forget that it is man who twists the religion to evil ends in violation of the words of the founder.”
Having made his point, Kenji was eager to move on. “The workers have voted to strike.” After updating his wife on the strike vote, Kenji added, “We must prepare.” As soon as he spoke the words, he caught himself. “Okasan, you were right all along. I have been too accommodating to the owners, too satisfied with my small victories, too confident . . .”
“No time for that,” Haru interrupted. “Your actions now are what count.” Then, in a matter-of-fact tone, she reported, “Uno pledged to open his shrine to strikers.”
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