Day 18 of the A to Z Challenge is the letter “R”:
R is for Rohwer and Rocks
I’ll write about the really important “R” topic first – Rohwer Relocation Center. Rohwer is the internment camp that my characters, Sachi and Nobu were “relocated” to in The Red Kimono. Last week, I was honored to attend the dedication of the new WWII Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee, Arkansas, the city closest to the site of the Rohwer internment camp site.
It was the second time I’d visited McGehee and the Rohwer site. The first time was a few years ago, when I was doing research for The Red Kimono. Then, it was a desolate plot of land in the middle of nowhere, with a couple of monuments and several grave markers. I wrote about my visit and the secrets I learned here, in a post called “Rohwer Whispers.”
On the visit to the museum dedication, I met several “real” former internees, including George Takei, and found myself humbled by their grace and saddened by their memories. I’m grateful to Cindy Smith and all the people who were involved in bringing this museum to life so that we may all remember a time in our history we should never repeat.
Next, “R” is for rocks. I stack rocks as a form of meditation, because the concentration it takes to put one rock on top of the other without the the column of rocks tumbling down does not allow anything else to occupy my mind.
I created a story around this meditation in The Red Kimono. In the following excerpt, Sachi and Jubie stack rocks after they are saddened to learn that they share something in common–the loss of their fathers.
Then, the butterfly—the beautiful, blue fairy—danced at the edge of her vision. She watched it land on the rocks she had stacked earlier.
“Maybe it will never go away, but Papa taught me how to take my mind off things that bother me.”
Jubie wiped her tears with her sleeve. “Yeah?”
“That stack of rocks I made? The one you were going to put the little stone on top of?”
“Uh-huh. What, it got some sorta magic or something?”
“Yes, you could say that, sort of like magic.” Sachi watched the butterfly move its wings up and down. “Remember when I told you to concentrate?”
“Yeah, but I couldn’t ’cause you was talking to me.”
“Right. Well, what Papa always used to tell me was to concentrate and put everything out of your mind. Don’t think about anything except balancing that next rock.”
“Trust me. I’ve tried it. It works.” Sachi looked around. “Where is that rock you had?”
“Right here,” Jubie said, opening her hand.
“Come on. Try. Put it on my stack of rocks. Right where that butterfly is.”
The butterfly left its perch.
“Just remember. Put everything out of your head, so all you’re thinking about is balancing that one rock.”
Jubie dangled the stone over the five rocks. Sachi held her breath. Wisps of hair tickled her face in the breeze, but she dared not move.
The stones clicked softly. Jubie let go . . . waited for a second . . .moved . . . her hand. The rock stilled, stayed.
Jubie smiled. “Your papa was right. It worked.”