There are no family photographs, only memories. Memories of a five-year old imprisoned by Japanese soldiers. Memories of love, courage and most of all hope. Hope that there was a God who would walk through the valley of death, known as WWII, with her. And He did.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Death by Boredom

There just can't be anything worse in life than not being able to run and play. Here I lay on my tieker (bamboo woven mat) getting more bored by the minute. The only thing to keep me company are stacks of dirty clothes and my pain. My eyes are now infected and the wound on my leg hurts so much.

Mammie is trying to make my eyes better. My Oma took a few leafs of a red plant, rolled them in her hands then placed them on my eyes. More lying on my tieker and doing nothing. But it does feel very nice on my eyes--cool and it doesn't smell too bad. Maybe the sharp pain in my eyes will go away soon.

Since I can't run around I am suddenly noticing that my head is very itchy. Mammie says I have koetoe ramboet (hair lice). "Stop scratching," she whispers. Easy for her to say. Looks like all the children in our camp have the same problem since I see everyone scratching their heads. Not a pretty sight. All we can do is wash our hair. But that doesn't seem to help much. We still have koetoe.

I also have an awful tummy ache. Most do. My brothers, sisters and I are lucky. Mammie still has a lot of money. So she goes to the fence late at night, always praying that the guards don't see her, and digs a hole. She leaves the money there and her Indonesian friends come and bring her bananas. I have to eat the whole banana with the yellow banana peel. How gross. When I can't manage the peel she scrapes the inside of the peel and makes me eat that. I do it because I don't have to go to the bathroom anymore. Tummy ache gone.

So here I lie, on my tieker which separates me from a dirty cold floor, checking to see if there are holes in the roof. Only three, or are they shadows? Will I ever walk again? Maybe I should sing a song. Even the guards like that. Well, maybe. Boredom is very bad for my soul.

I guess other children are worse off than me, like standing in the hot sun with hands tied behind their backs and no water. Better stop complaining.

Tuhan, Tuhan, Tuhan...
Engkau sungguh baik bagiku
Tuhan, Tuhan, Tuhan...
Engkau sungguh baik bagiku
Tuhan, Tuhan, Tuhan...
Engkau sungguh baik bagiku
Karena Engkau sudah membuat apa yang dunia tidak bisa membuat!

Lord, Lord, Lord,
You are really good to me
Lord, Lord, Lord,
You are really good to me
Lord, Lord, Lord,
You are really good to me
For you've done what the world could not do!
(Song Source:)


Sharon Lynne said...

It was so good to read another "chapter" of your mother's book!

I think this will be of interest to many people. Keep up the good work!

Dana said...

Thank you so much for your writing, it touches my heart to read about your family.

The Gatekeeper said...

Thanks Sharon and Dana. It's been quite an experience talking to mom and trying to bring out these memories.

Dirty Butter said...

I'm so glad to see that you are writing more of the story! I hang on every word.

Take care!

Llama Momma said...

I'm thrilled to read more of this story. It's powerful and so needs to be told.

Willow said...

Oh, I'm glad you're back writing again! I was wondering whether you were going to be back.

Willow said...

I just read 'Dad's Story' under the family blogs side bar and was interested to see that Oom Willy lived in New Guinea. We too lived there, in the Bird's Head, Manokwari!

The Gatekeeper said...

Willow, my parents mention Manokwari all the time. I'll have to inquire a little more.

L.L. Barkat said...

Sigh. This has a paradoxical beauty.

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Vincesapplemac said...

Dear SirhI,

I wonder if you would be able to help me, my mother was a Civilian Internee of the Japanese in various camps in Sumatra, one such camp was Bangka, as my mother approaches her twilight years she has shown an interest in trying to contact fellow internees of the camps she was held in and as such I am trying to find out sources who may be able to help me assist her in this,

With this in mind I would be grateful if you know of any way I might be able to contact or put my mother in contact with her long lost childhood friends she made in the camps.

My mother will shortly be providing me with a list of the camps she was interned in, which i am more than happy to provide you with if this will help in anyway.

The brief details I have at the moment are :

My mother name at the time of internment : Jane Reid
She was interned with her mother, grandmother and 4 siblings, Dirk, Roy, James and Erica Reid, sadly her grandmother died in the camps, they were originally captured after the ship that they left Singapore on was attacked/disabled, the ship was the “Vyner Brooke”, one of the camps they were in was immortalised in Paradise Road with the story of the vocal choir that was formed there. I also believe the surviving Australian nurses of the famous beach massacre at Banka Island were in one of the camps she was interned in.

Some further information i have is as follows

REID Mrs Marie wife of J.H. ‘Jock’ of PWD. Aged 38 in 1942.Palembang
women’s camp 1942. Sumatra internee with 5 children [Erica, Jane. James, Dirk & Roy],
Vyner Brooke survivors. Repatriated on Antenor from Singapore, arriving Liverpool 27.10.45.
To Paisley. Returned to Penang post war.

I hope this will help in starting to find my mothers dear friends.

Please let me know if you can assist or if you can point me in the right direction.

Yours Sincerly

Vincent Elgey

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