Michael and Keiko (8)

Part VIII: Kyoto, June 10, 2011

Keiko Hirokawa, formerly Keiko Yamamoto, had one child. Her name was Meiko Mifune. Keiko was fifty-four years old. Meiko was thirty-five. Keiko and Meiko were very close — so close that some people thought they were sisters because they were so fond of each other and they looked relatively proximate in age. Meiko and her family lived a walking distance from Keiko’s home and she would come to see Keiko two or three times a week.

Meiko did something unusual today: she called on the phone before she came.

Michael & Keiko_8Meiko: “Mother, I am here cleaning up Grandma’s stuff for the sale of her apartment, and I just found a box of old letters from a Michael Tan of the United States. They were addressed to you. Did you leave them here?”

(A long pause on Keiko’s end.)

“Mother, are you there?”

Keiko: “Yes, daughter, I am here. Can you bring them over? I’d like to have them.”

The letters were from Michael. They were never opened. On top of the bundle there was a letter from Keiko’s mother to Keiko, written a few months before she died of cancer that year.


I must beg for your forgiveness. When Mr. Michael Tan sent you these letters in 1975, your father told me to burn them. Somehow I couldn’t bring myself to doing it, so I had them hidden in a box. Your father and I thought what you did in America was very wrong, and it brought shame to the family. So it was good to marry you off to Yoji although he was fifteen years older than you were. Yoji turned out to be a good and reliable husband, for which we were grateful.However, when you named your daughter “Meiko,” I knew I did something terrible to you and Mr. Tan. But it was too late; things could not be undone. 

Now that your father, Yoji and I are all gone, I think I should return these letters to you. I will carry the guilt to my grave. I am really sorry, my dear daughter. 

Your mother.

*** To Be Continued ***

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