Mona Oikawa writes towards the end of “My life is not imagined: Notes on writing as a Sansei lesbian feminist” about her father’s experience of loss and how it informs her practice.
I remember a story told to me by my father. He is standing in the empty room of his old boarding house in Vancouver. He has come to look for his belongings that were left in this room before the Canadian government forced him to go to a work camp in Ontario in 1942. ‘Clothes do not matter,’ he says to himself. ‘But my writing. My composition of music and lyrics, where did they go?’ ‘Losing my writing was one of my greatest losses,’ he told me over and over again.
I can never retrieve those writings for my father. But in my mind I return to that room and others like it, where creative searching spirits tell stories and give me comfort and support.
There is quietly a possible temporal shift here in imagining creative searching spirits at work and play in a time before trauma if we think that the return is to a time before the father’s return to a site of loss and yet even if it is a return to emptiness there is the speaking of story. But the lesbian Sansei feminist does not leave us to dwell here long for in the next paragraph she is marking time: “1992 marks the five hundredth year of resistance by First Nations people to the invasion of their land.”
To be found in All Names Spoken poetry and prose by Tamai Kobayashi and Mona Oikawa.
And so for day 371