Don’t call me Bachan

Uncle George ,Sugie, 2-8-1892 , 1965 ,Sugie & Yaemon,3-8-1880,Uncle Jay, 1918-1960

                               my grandmother died at 73
                               the age that I am now
                     her thin grey hair was tied back in a bun

                               was she ever young?

                               coming from a foreign land
                         her songs were of an old Japan
                               coming to America
                               a picture bride
                                "fresh off the boat"
                                a timely phrase

                                 did she ever love?

                              Grandpa and Grandma
                              bickering mumbled sounds
                              long ago
                             my mother remembers
                            "when papa drank sake"
                             fights were brutal and bloody
                             now with age just words

                             how do you get out
                            of this slave trade world
                             your children are the keys
                            work and save
                            work and slave
                             send your sons 
                             to be a doctor

                            but Uncle George died at 22
                            Uncle Jay died at 42
                            a doctor whose dream 
                            to be an artist
                             was it suicide

                              Grandmas' dreams flew by

                             only English was my mistake
                              back then when--
                              Japs were defeated in war
                              I only wanted to be American
                              NO, "I don't speak Japanese"
                        and Grandma don't speaku Enguirish

                               so we are pigeons in the dark

                               we never touched
                               I'm not sure why
                               did we ever play

                                        Bill Wither Sings
                         "grandmas, hands played a tambourine so well"
                                  my Grandma never did

                               I tried to understand
                              but it's been so long ago

                                 picking strawberries 
                                     cracked hands
                                filled with fresh hopes
                                scorched from the sun

Bachan means grandmother in Japanese. I don't like to be called Bachan and Grandma because I don't feel like a grandma and when I digged deeper I remembered my own Bachan. Her story was so sad. She was creative, a great cook but her life was tragic. I suppose that may be a reason why I don't want to be Bachan--call me Auntie. Aloha Auntie.
I spoke pigeon English to Grandma--so speaku Engurish means  speak English.





Published by genienakano

I love writing--It's my joy, my therapy--my confession. I'm a performer, dancer, yoga and meditation instructor, write a poetry column for Rafu Shimpo. Growth and love of life is a key to my happiness.

6 thoughts on “Don’t call me Bachan

  1. Grandma picking strawberries
    cracked hands
    filled with fresh hopes
    scorched from the sun

    Beautiful cycles of new old and new again

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice photos and poem..if only photos can talk to us now…with all the technology…don’t you wished we could talk to our ancestors and hear their stories?



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