Deidre Tautua – Fanene
“A Promise to Live For” is a book about a 10-year-old girl who was given a responsibility by her parents to care for her 6-year-old brother and make sure they get to Japan safely from Manchuria at the end of the war.
Written by Izumi Michizuki-Greubel the story was told by her mother Iku Mockizuki who was the 10 year old girl at the time of her journey during the war and what it was like been given the responsibility of an adult at a young age.
The book was first published in Japanese in 2016 and was translated into English last year.
Michizuki-Greubel said “A Promise to Live For” is about how her mother “Iku” and brother, joined other refugees to walk more than 500 kilometers to get to their destination.
She said her mother could not remember what they ate during that time, but she recalled how there were dead bodies on the side of the road.
Some were without clothes and others were mothers who had to bury their dead babies because of starvation.
Most of what is being published in the book as well as photos were told and drawn by the author’s mother.
But as a 10 year old there were gaps that needed to be filled, so the author had to undertake research in order to complete the book.
She went as far as gathering records from the government to confirm details like the ship her mother and brother boarded in Huludao, China, to make that final journey to Japan.
Michizuki-Greubel found from her research that many who experienced the war did not want to talk.
“A lot of people who experienced the war don’t want to talk about it but I was lucky,” she said.
“My mum was eager to talk, not all the time but once in a while she would want to talk about it.”
The mother is now 83 years old, and the author is grateful that letting her mother talk about her journey gave her closure on a terrifying chapter in her life.
She said it was a healing process for her mother to speak of what had happened during the war.
Iku Mockizuki is now promoting World Peace.
‘A Promise to Live For’ is available at Samoa Stationary and Books.