Heiji (short story)
Creators: Jeff Tsuyoshi Matsuda
Short story by Jeff Tsuyoshi Matsuda about a disheveled elderly Nisei widower who goes to a empty field in his Westchester, California, neighborhood every day for reasons that no one can figure out. In slowly revealing the reason for his quest, Heiji Taguma's wartime family history is revealed. His family had farmed twenty acres in the area before the war, but lost their crops and their farm in the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Heiji's father Masu was among the Issei arrested by the FBI and was taken to the Bismarck , North Dakota internment camp, eventually rejoining his family at Manzanar . But he returned a broken man: while Heiji resettled in Chicago , he refused to leave Manzanar and died there just after the end of the war. Heiji's odd ritual seemed to have been triggered by the death of his wife Keiko, who had once cooked all his meals and washed and selected his clothes.
"Heiji" is an excerpt from Black Sheep , a "novel in progress" that was the winner of the James Clavell Japanese American National Literary Award. It appeared in the Rafu Shimpo holiday edition in 1998.