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, Georgia and Japan.
Dr. Tebbits had left the waiting room with Takeshi and Tommy on his heels.
“I’ll find Kenta,” said Sachiko.
Haru stood up and took a step before stumbling. She grabbed on to a chair arm with one hand while the other clasped Sachiko’s shoulder.
“Okäsan, are you all right?”
“Am I all right?! I might be a widow in an hour!”
Haru immediately regretted this outburst.
“I’m sorry, Sachiko. I am so scared; I didn’t think.” She stepped back, her face flushed.
“You and Hiromi stay here. I’ll find Kenta.” When Sachiko opened her mouth to protest, Haru continued. “You two need to be here in case Dr. Tebbits needs your blood.”
Without waiting for another objection, Haru walked out of the room and fast-stepped toward the cafeteria. She entered the wide space, her eyes surveying each table in the room. No Kenta.
“Is this the only place to get coffee?” she asked the cashier.
The woman nodded her head absently as she rang up the food of a customer holding out a dollar bill.
Haru trotted back to the waiting room. Nobody. Feeling light-headed, she sat down, only to get up again a few seconds later. I have to stop him, she thought. All these years a secret kept. No harm to anyone. She half-ran to the nurse’s station.
“Have you seen Kenta?” Seeing their confusion, she explained, “He’d be carrying coffee. There would be two girls with him.”
“Yes. Oh yes, Kenta. The cute one. They were heading to the blood bank. You take the elevator, then . . .” Reading the panic on Haru’s face, the nurse hurried around the counter. “It’s easier if I just take you there.”
Haru followed behind the nurse, nearly tripping over an electrical cord and wishing the strolling woman would step it up. Over the next three excruciatingly long minutes, they waited for the only elevator car and rode slowly down to the basement level. After a series of left and right turns, they finally arrived at the door labeled “Blood Bank.” Haru gasped at the sight of her sons sitting in chairs, each one with an IV attached to an arm and a hanging bottle filling up with their red blood.
A young nurse technician was talking to Takeshi. “It looks like you have a full tank,” she purred and then leaned across him unnecessarily to disconnect the IV.
Haru didn’t notice Takeshi’s embarrassed smile — her gaze had frozen on Kenta’s arm.
At that moment, Tebbits strode in, snapping off his rubber gloves.
“Good news, Haru. We stopped all the bleeding. We’ve stitched him back up. The operation went very well. We got all the cancer and saved half his kidney. He should recover fully.” Looking at the three boys with IVs attached, he added, “Your father’s blood pressure is low, but as soon as we administer the transfusions, that will normalize.”
The nurse handed him the glass bottle holding Taka’s blood. “I’ll bring up the other two bottles to the O.R. in a few minutes.” Holding the bottle of blood in both hands, Tebbits hustled out the door.
Haru stood stricken, her eyes still on Kenta, silently pleading with him to somehow extricate himself from this disaster.
“I already knew I was type A, Okäsan,” he said casually. “Coach Malloy takes blood samples from all the football players in case any of us gets injured and needs blood.”
Relief flooded over Haru’s face. In the next instance, her body went limp and she slid onto the floor in a dead faint.
To be continued . . .