I am not quite sure how to begin this story, because what I’ve heard I don’t know to be real or true. My grandfather, Luis Gomes, was born into the original dysfunctional family. His father never cared too much about his 16 children or his dedicated wife.
Luis was a handsome young man, my grandma says. Every morning women waited for him to walk by their doorstep on his way to work. Luis was tanned and strong. His straight black hair hung above his dark brown eyes.
My grandparents met at a wedding. Rosa Latuf was only 15 years old when she stumbled upon the person she’d spent the rest of her life with. The third daughter of a Lebanese and a Brazilian, Rosa fell in love young and was married by the time she turned 17.
It was a rainy Saturday. On January 6, 1953 at 6:07 p.m. church bells rang announcing the union of this new couple. Even now that my grandfather is no longer here to tell me his version of the story, their love is palpable.
Luis began his studies late in life, after putting aside enough money to go to law school. By then he was married with three kids, awaiting for the fourth.
My mom nearly died during birth. Cassia Rosana was born on April 15, 1963 weighing one kilo, seven hundred and forty eight grams. On the other side of the world, in Yamaguchi, Japan, my dad, Kenji Sasagawa, was starting Pre-K.
My dad likes to think of himself as a free spirit. He says by the time he was 15 he already knew his dreams that couldn’t fit inside the small town he had grown up in. After a year studying International Business in Tokyo, he decided to go abroad to learn a new language.
My parents met at a friend’s fifteenth birthday party. My dad didn’t understand Portuguese at the time, but they decided to date anyway. He used to carry around a notebook where he wrote down everything my mother said. When he got home, he would look up the words he didn’t know in the dictionary and make sense of her ramblings.
Time flew when they were together. Before they knew it, it was time for my dad to go back to Japan. My parents wanted to get married, but their families vehemently opposed the decision. My mom was 17 at the time and my dad 21. They couldn’t make it on their own — at least not then. Cassia and Kenji tried a long distance relationship but it didn’t last.
Two years went by from the day my dad had left Brazil and my dad finally graduated from college. My mom was 19 now. She was still trying to move on with her life when the past knocked on her door. My dad had never forgotten her, he says. Right after he had finished university he returned to Brazil.
One day, unexpectedly, she stumbled upon my dad sitting at her doorstep. That same day they decided to commit their lives to each other. They married nine months later, upon my grandfather’s request. He didn’t want anyone to think his daughter was marrying to cover up a pregnancy. It was a rainy Saturday. A day after the wedding, they hopped on a plane and moved to Japan.
I didn’t have a glorious entrance into this world. It was a rainy Saturday at 7:37 p.m. My mom was in labor for more than 16 hours. The doctor kept on telling her it wasn’t my time. When my heartbeat began to decelerate, she was taken to the nearest emergency room. Waiting outside, my grandmother followed the doctor’s advice and had started praying. I was born a purple baby, but quickly recuperated from my traumatic arrival, after all I was born in a loving home.
Rainy Saturdays have always been a part of my life and if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be here today. Every storm washes a soul and prepares it for the next drought. That’s how I feel every time it rains. It allows me to create a new beginning for what could have been an end.