“My father liked to speak English,” Michiko said. “He preferred it to his mother tongue. I never asked him why he liked English so much.” Even though she was staying nearby, with a college roommate who had immigrated to Oregon, she wouldn’t come to this store again, but then she didn’t know how she could leave her father lying in the cart. If only somebody saw him and screamed in surprise. If only somebody said there’s a man wearing spectacles and a bathrobe lying in your cart. But people walked by without looking at Michiko’s father, or at Michiko. They didn’t notice her. She had not been noticed, except by Watanabe-san, who had looked stricken when she’d told him she was leaving Japan for an “indefinite amount of time.”
“I feel like I’m burying my mother under all these things in my cart,” the woman said. “The truth is, I get so tired taking care of her that sometimes I wish she would die. Does that make me a bad daughter?”
“Hattori-san dou omotte?” Michiko said. “That’s what the father said to his daughter in that movie. It means, ‘Do you like Mr. Hattori?’ But it didn’t matter, because Mr. Hattori was already engaged to somebody else. My father knew all the lines from Ozu’s films. I think he wanted to be a movie director. He didn’t want to be a museum director at all.”
“That’s how I met Margaret,” Michiko’s father said. “She was sitting in front of me at the New York Film Festival, eating popcorn. She had red hair in a bun this high.” He waved his fingers over the pineapple. “I couldn’t see the screen. Instead of watching the movie, I watched her big hair, even when the screen got dark.”
“Larry loves the movies,” the woman said. “His favorite movie is Bonnie and Clyde.”
“Beautiful hair,” Michiko’s father said. “Her pride and joy. As you are mine.”
Michiko wasn’t sure exactly what her father had said. Something good. He had said something good about her; he had bestowed rare praise. But now he just looked tired. His dreamy look had been replaced by a weary one, as if death were wearing him out. The pineapple slipped from beneath his chin and rolled into the crook of his arm.
“I cooked pork for my father,” Michiko said. “Some Japanese don’t like meat, but he liked it too much.”
She bent over the cart, but couldn’t bear to touch her father again. Her mother had been ill. She saw things nobody else saw, talked to people nobody else could see. Michiko and her father had gone to visit her, together, when Michiko was a child. Her father always whispered in his wife’s ear. “I miss you,” he must have said. “Come home. We’re waiting. I miss you so much.” Michiko tried to lift the pineapple, but it remained in her father’s arms.