• Hina Matsumoto

An Open Letter to My Lost Self and to Other Lost Children

Dear 10-year old Hina,

Life's changing. The childhood bloat is beginning to smoothen out, and your golden yellow skin is turning paler as you spend more time inside because books and the television have pulled you in from the outside world, like a magnet. Like every other classmate, puberty is hitting you like a garbage truck, trudging along curbs to pick up baggage. Slowly, but surely.

See, your childhood is different compared to your classmate's. Of course, we all have cried until our eyes are puffy and raw, laughed until pain shoots through our stomach, and snuck our Nintendo DS's under our covers past our bedtime.

But when other kids got an ice cream cone as a treat for simply bearing through flu shots, you got an ice cream cone after renewing your green card. When you opened your lunchbox that your loving mother made to see fish cake and rice balls, the other kindergarteners peered over, only to grimace and poke you with invading comments.

“It smells in here!”

“My mom doesn’t feed that to me.”

Each comment jabs into your soft skin, like a flu shot.

When it was only three months into third grade, you begged your mother to, "please pack me grape jelly sandwiches and apples like everybody else."

As the school years passed by, rice balls turned into ham and cheese Lunchables, and your Japanese became sprinkled with English.

But I cannot tell when exactly you will completely come to terms with yourself. Time will tell me at some point, and I am excited for it. However, you will take a trip to Japan that will pull you into a culture you once loved before- but that will be for another letter.

Ignorance is bliss, people say. I know that this isn’t true. Ignorance caused trauma, misery, and angst. I want to let you know that nothing about this is easy. And I do not say this to downplay what you went through. What I am trying to emphasize is that there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to your culture. Out of 7.5 billion people in this world, you are you. It can be scary. Many times it will be difficult.

But I promise it’ll be okay.

The moment you realize you aren’t alone is nearing closer, and I want every other child who feels out of place to know that it will come at some point.

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