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.
The stench of smoldering timber permeated Kenji’s nostrils as he walked over to the Japa-
nese language classroom Bilkerton had built shortly after Kenji had arrived in Waimea. The school stood only 50 feet behind the Fujimoto home, a smoking canker to the men gathering inside. He scanned the room jammed with standing workers, shouting, “Bilkerton!” “MacFarlane!” “murder!” “strike!” Rank body odors fouled the air. At the front, an oil lamp stood atop the teacher’s desk. Kenji wiggled sideways through the crowd until he was standing behind the wooden desk. He motioned to Kurume to take the teacher’s seat. As the men settled down, a man shouted, “The Christians talk about an eye for an eye. I say we put on masks and march back to Bilkerton’s house.” Applause roared in approval.
Kenji spotted the school bell at the edge of the desk, picked it up and rang it like a fire alarm until everyone had quieted down. “Do you want to hang alongside MacFarlane, Nakayama-san?” challenged Kenji, eyeing the rabble-rouser inciting the assembly. “Or, do you want justice and better living standards?”
“Strike!” another voice shouted.
Better than torching the house, thought Kenji. “I need a motion.” A motion was put forth, seconded and, by riotous acclamation, adopted. Kenji raised his hands. The workers needed to understand the commitment they were making. He used his oratorical “ask questions” technique to temper the rush to rashness. “Who remembers the O‘ahu strike of 1909?”
Half the hands went up.
“Did you experience the strike on O‘ahu or hear about it while you continued to work?”
That question sapped the crowd’s energy. Only Kurume raised his hand. The strike had bypassed the Big Island plantations. Kenji knew Kurume had stood in food lines and slept rough for six months. “Let’s hear from Kurume.”
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