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I think it started in December 2017, when my Mama sent me to Japan to take care of my grandparents, Baba and Jiji, alone. I had been to Japan almost every year since I was eleven years old, and several times before that too, but this was my first time without Mama. When Mama was there, Japan was filtered through her. I could poke bits of myself through her editing and approval. I could read street signs because of the way she read them, and I could understand my grandparents’ sighs from the timbre of her translation. That December, though, I had to see and hear alone. The tiny shakes in Baba’s legs and the indentation in Jiji’s forehead from when he fell down the stairs crystallized in my memory, and I had to write about it.
This project includes a series of creative nonfiction and fiction pieces centered around telling my family stories. Writing from interviews, observations, and generational memories, I weave together these story fragments to discuss Asian American identity and immigration, WWII trauma, aging, and inheritance.