Since 2021, Kumi Taguchi has been the host of Insight, the SBS mainstay that takes a deeper look at current affairs. This year, the program has delved into everything from catfishing to conspiracy theories and the ramifications of unexpected deathbed confessions. Next Tuesday at 8.30pm, Insight is looking at what it’s like to meet your biological family later in life. Guests on the episode include Australians who’ve found half-siblings as adults as well as those connecting with their birth parents for the first time.
For Taguchi, this episode is a particularly resonant one. “I don’t have a lived experience of not knowing my parents, but it did move me in the sense that I didn’t really grow up with my dad. I only reconnected him with him in my 20s,” she says.
“We have one guest in our studio who always felt a bit different to his siblings and didn’t quite feel like he belonged. And I felt a little bit that way in my family – my mum and my sister were very similar and I always felt different in terms of my interests in journalism and sport. Then when I reconnected with my Japanese dad, we started talking about soccer and politics and gambling and the ethics of X, Y, Z in his broken English. And for the first time in my life, I remember feeling this incredible sense of, oh, I can see where I come from and where these parts of me come from. It made me realise how strong that genetic coding is.”
Decades later, Taguchi considers a family memento her most prized possession. Here, the longtime journalist tells us why she would rush to save a small but very sentimental rock from a fire, as well as the story of two other important personal belongings.
What I’d save from my house in a fire
I would save a little rock. It’s small, smooth and has two little googly eyes stuck on it. It’s one of the very few things I have of my dad’s. I remember being little and looking at the rock sitting on the bookshelves among journals and dictionaries. Later it migrated to a spot underneath the handbrake in Dad’s car, carefully stuck there with Blu Tack. It stayed there until Dad died, at 84.
I was in Kyoto when I found out. My sister called me and said that because of the way Dad died, most of his possessions had to be destroyed. The first thing I thought of was the rock. Through tears, I asked her whether it had survived. I still find it strange that in that moment I was a little girl again, yearning for something from my childhood.
My most useful object
Gosh, this is hard. On a purely pragmatic level, my phone is my most useful object. My rice-cooker is useful because I can’t cook rice any other way – but I don’t use it much. So I am going to choose my coffee grinder.
It’s similar to a pepper grinder and I bought it during the 2021 lockdown. I felt the need to go analogue as much as I could. I think it was an instinctive thing – knowing I needed to be still, create rituals and feel a sense of connection to tangible things.
Using it is a joy. It is heavy and feels just right in my hands. I love filling it with beans, clicking the gears to adjust the grind setting and winding the lever around. The sound is meditative, the smell and taste wonderful – but it’s the process that is the real gift. I even enjoy cleaning it. I undo all the parts and use a small brush to dust off the spring and washer and conical grinder and gears.
The item I most regret losing
Piglet. He was my first soft toy. I was born three months early and Piglet sat on top of my humidity crib. He was made of navy blue corduroy and had two flowers embroidered in wool on his tummy, one yellow and one red. He had red silk inside his ears.
He came with me through multiple house moves in my 20s and 30s. To be honest, it was more just to keep him, not because I really loved him. Or so I thought. In one house move, who knows where or when, he went missing. My other (favourite) toy made it but Piglet didn’t. I don’t know what happened to him and every now and then I still get a deep pang in my chest remembering that he is out there somewhere, wondering where I am. It truly hurts my heart that I didn’t look after him well enough.