Shiho Shinoda Nunes

From “Growing Up with Ghosts”

The story of Sanae and her mother’s ghost I heard some years later from a girl from Mälua who lived in our dormitory.

Sanae left home when she was fifteen to go into domestic service with a haole family in Hilo. Her mother had died the year before and the mother’s income as a field hand was sorely missed.

It was a big jump from a dirt-floor kitchen to a linoleum-laid one, from a cotton pallet on a floor crowded with brothers and sisters to a soft bed of her own in a room with ruffled white curtains. But Sanae made the jump with ease. She quickly learned to use every electrical appliance in the house: the toaster, which popped up bread the likes of which, with butter and jam, she had never tasted at home (their toast was browned — or often burned in a frying pan over a kerosene flame); the electric iron, which made a joy out of a weekly chore, unlike the charcoal–heated one at home. And the washing machine!

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