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Flowers grow amidst the ashes

The end of the war liberated my mother. Like many other Japanese, for the first time she was able to imagine how she might make a life free from the oppression of the patriarchal, military state. Having survived the horrific fire bombings mom felt like she had been given a new life and emerged ready to break out of the constraints that Japanese women were subjected to and live free from the domination of men. The women in my family were certain that the war had been caused by the immaturity and violent nature of men, who were less evolved creatures than women.

It was a time when everything was in flux, presenting the opportunity to do things that had never been possible. Claiming she knew some English, my mother boldly sought a job at the US general headquarters, and when an American she met there asked her to date, she took a chance and went out with him. When he later asked her to marry, she decided that she was willing to take on that challenge too and accepted his proposal.

My grandparents must have been moved too by the new space that existed in society, because they allowed the American to move into their Tokyo home. The American, who became my father, was also crossing boundaries and stepping into the unknown when he decided to marry a Japanese, have children with her, and live with her family in Japan.

She had three children and we and our cousins were among those born after the war, cherished as flowers blooming amidst the ashes, new life springing forth with hope and promise from the devastated land.

Adapted from my book, When Half is Whole, p. 7

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