Shikata Ga Nai (it cant be helped)

In the night they were removed by train, allowed to take only what they could carry. Shikata ga nai.

Behind, grandmother’s kimonos hung in closets. Family photographs were left in drawers. Shikata ga nai.

Grandfather left his business, home, and heirlooms with his attorney for safekeeping. They were sold at auction, forever lost. Shikata ga nai.

Aunt Mary died under mysterious circumstances. The family was not allowed to collect her body. Shikata ga nai.

Japanese Americans were held in horse stalls at the racetrack for weeks, months in the cold of winter. Shikata ga nai.

My father’s siblings – separated, parent-less, off to different camps. Shikata ga nai.

Father in Minidoka Idaho’s “Hunt Camp”. Minidoka, desert. dry. hot. flat. Shikata ga nai.

Fights in the desert, blood seeped into the sand. Many years later, Father sinking to his knees in this same place, tears seeping where the blood had been…Shikata ga nai.

Driving a camp coal truck at age 13. Shikata ga nai.

Forced labor in the farmer’s fields. Losing a finger in a tractor. Shikata ga nai.

A drowning in the irrigation ditch. Shikata ga nai.

We ask,  Weren’t you mad? Why didn’t you refuse to go? The elders say “All people make sacrifices during war time. This was the sacrifice we made for our country”. Shikata ga nai.


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