Kai's Mother (short story)
Creators: Gretel Ehrlich
Short story by Gretel Ehrlich told in the first person voice of an Issei woman as she rides the train back to California from Heart Mountain at war's end. The characters in the story were introduced in Ehrlich's earlier novel Heart Mountain .
As the story begins, the Issei character is heading back home to California after the closing of Heart Mountain and the end of the war. She recalls the difficult decision to return, since they have lost their home in Richmond while incarcerated. Her older Issei husband suffers from mental illness and had to be carried onto the train, while her son Kai is at the Military Intelligence Service Language School in Minnesota. She recalls her difficult life in Japan and contemplates her options in California, deciding that she will seek a domestic service job once she checks on their stored possessions.
In Heart Mountain , her son Kai Nakamura is one of the main characters, a Ph.D. student at Berkeley who becomes a draft resister at Heart Mountain before eventually deciding to join the army. The Nakamura's had owned a hardware store prior to the war. The Nakamura's other son, Kenny, is a decorated Army Air Corps flier modeled after Ben Kuroki . She is given no first name in both the novel and the short story.