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Episode 41: Yugo and his mother are separated


When Hugo was four years old, his parents separated and his mother, Eneida, returned alone to her hometown of Porto Seguro.

Yugo's father wasn't particularly surprised because he had expected the separation to happen in this way.

"Eneida was just dreaming of the life in Sao Paulo that she saw on TV dramas."

"What a foolish son to fall in love with Eneida at first sight."

"I can't believe you went out to town without taking care of baby Yugo!"

My relatives said various things from the beginning.

While his father was working at the morning market, Yugo was always left in the care of his father's older sister, Harumi Tier 1, who lived nearby. This continued even after his mother passed away.

When he entered elementary school, Yugo often played games with his father at home. His father also helped him with his studies. His father was Yugo's best friend and hero.

When Yugo was about to graduate from junior high school, his father was encouraged to remarry. His wife was a former nurse who was preparing to go to Japan to work. His father was very worried. However, he refused the marriage, saying, "It's best for Yugo to graduate from high school in Brazil. I will never go to Japan by myself. I don't want to be separated from Yugo."

The three years of high school went by in a flash. After graduating, Yugo decided to go to Japan with his father. About a year before, Tia Harumi and her family had already moved to Yamato City, Kanagawa Prefecture, so Yugo and his family decided to live in the same town.

His father worked for an electronic parts manufacturing company, and Yugo worked part-time while studying to enter a vocational school. On Sundays, he went to night school with his father. The two of them aimed to take classes in Japanese.

Yugo quickly made many friends. He was a good conversationalist and grew into a young man who could get along with anyone. His father was proud of his son.

One day, he received a letter from his grandmother. The person renting out the house to Yugo's father had told him that a letter had arrived for Yugo, so he enclosed the letter. It was from Yugo's mother.

For the past 15 years, I have truly lived every day hoping for Yugo's happiness. I know I'm not qualified to be a mother, but I have changed. I want Yugo to understand that, even if just a little.

Looking back, although it was a short time, I was the happiest I've ever been when I lived with my family. I was a frail child, so I often went to the doctor and missed school, and I was spoiled by my family. When I was 17, I went to São Paulo to help out at my aunt's store, where I met your father and you were born.

Yugo was well taken care of by his kind father and Tia Harumi's family, but I gradually began to feel that I wasn't needed as a mother. I decided to go back to my parents' house for a while to think about where I belonged. I wanted to think things through with a cool head.

My mother got angry at me for being too selfish. She wanted me to go back to Hugo, but I was hospitalized due to a heart condition. It took a long time for me to recover, but even after I did, I continued to live in Porto Seguro, not having the courage to go and see Hugo.

Recently, I received a call from my aunt in Sao Paulo, who asked me to come and help out at the store again since she is elderly.

If Yugo is willing to meet me, I would really like to meet him.

Dear son,

Although he was surprised at first, Yugo was very happy because his mother's words touched his heart, and he sent her a long letter with many photos.

Someday, I'll pick up my mother and show her Japan.

Until then, I decided to study hard, work hard, learn more about Japan, and become a bridge between Brazil and Japan.

© 2022 Laura Honda-Hasegawa

Brazil dekasegi families fiction foreign workers Japan Nikkei in Japan
About this series

In 1988, I read a news article about dekasegi and had an idea: "This might be a good subject for a novel." But I never imagined that I would end up becoming the author of this novel...

In 1990, I finished my first novel, and in the final scene, the protagonist Kimiko goes to Japan to work as a dekasegi worker. 11 years later, when I was asked to write a short story, I again chose the theme of dekasegi. Then, in 2008, I had my own dekasegi experience, and it left me with a lot of questions. "What is dekasegi?" "Where do dekasegi workers belong?"

I realized that the world of dekasegi is very complicated.

Through this series, I hope to think about these questions together.

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About the Author

Born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1947. Worked in the field of education until 2009. Since then, she has dedicated herself exclusively to literature, writing essays, short stories and novels, all from a Nikkei point of view.

She grew up listening to Japanese children's stories told by her mother. As a teenager, she read the monthly issue of Shojo Kurabu, a youth magazine for girls imported from Japan. She watched almost all of Ozu's films, developing a great admiration for Japanese culture all her life.

Updated May 2023

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