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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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A story about war [20131107|16:04]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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(My dad told me this story during our last visit. I’m writing it down because he’s only just started telling me things like this and it’s made me increasingly aware that he won’t necessarily be around to tell them again to Humuhumu. Also, we approach Remembrance Day.)

My dad was born in Manila during the second world war in the midst of the occupation of the Philippines by Japan. He was born under the house, although his birth certificate doesn’t say this.

One day when he was only a few months old, his mother was taking him down the street to visit a friend. She turned a corner to find herself face-to-face with a detachment of Japanese troops. The commander’s eyes lit up when he spotted the baby in her arms. He spoke no Filipino and she spoke little Japanese. Through gestures, he conveyed to her that he would like to hold the baby.

My grandmother hesitated. She knew the stories: Filipino babies had been bayoneted by bored patrols of Japanese troops for sport. She handed over the baby. He cooed and giggled. The happy commander, juggling the baby on one arm, fished around in his pockets while she waited with terror in her heart.

He found what he was looking for and handed it to her: a black-and-white photo of a woman holding a small baby boy. With his troops behind him and my grandmother at his side, warily watching in case his mood turned, he paraded up and down the street with my dad in arms, talking to him in Japanese and smiling at my grandmother. Some minutes later, he handed the baby back and my grandmother continued her journey.

The next day, someone knocked on my grandparents’ door. It was a Japanese soldier, and in his arms was a big box of rations, sent by the Japanese commander. “For the baby”, he said, in halting Tagalog, smiled briefly and left.

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/897627.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.

[User Picture]From: gutbloom
2013-11-07 22:09 (UTC)
That's a good story.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-11-11 19:11 (UTC)
Yes. It was weird hearing my dad tell it, though. He has this funny, disjointed way of telling stories that eliminates all the potential for painful emotional impact and instead makes them amusing or just part of the flow of conversation. I have no idea if this is a talent he's deliberately cultivated. The style is so non-linear that I find I can't capture it when I record what he's told me.
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[User Picture]From: bryangb
2013-11-07 22:34 (UTC)
Lovely story. It's important to remember that for all the evil done in their name - and for all the evil done in war - the Japanese (like the Germans) were not all unthinking evil stereotypes.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-11-11 19:12 (UTC)
I imagine that commander was homesick, and he was happy to have a chance to experience a little of the joy he was missing with his own son.
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[User Picture]From: cosmiccircus
2013-11-08 02:24 (UTC)
Even though your dad is still alive today, that whole story made me nervous that something horrible was going to happen!

On another note, are any of your friends/relatives in danger from the typhoon that's hitting the Philippines?
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-11-11 19:13 (UTC)
It's a good thing you're reading my writing then, and not hearing my dad tell it! He has this incredibly circuitous way of telling stories that can be absolute torture for anyone who's not heard it before.

Please see locked posts re: the Philippines.
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[User Picture]From: soliano
2013-11-08 03:08 (UTC)
Good story. I agree, hard to paint all participants in war with the same brush. Better just to avoid war in the first place. Certainly thankful that it all turned out well for your Father, otherwise we would not have the lovely you to share stories with.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-11-11 19:14 (UTC)
Thank you. And I agree that a lot more diplomacy and less diving straight for the pointy/boom sticks would be a great strategy for the future. What a wonderful legacy that would be.
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[User Picture]From: jixel
2013-11-08 10:39 (UTC)
Wow what an intense story
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-11-11 19:15 (UTC)
Yes. Once I had it written down linearly, I felt the full emotional impact of it.
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[User Picture]From: sanat
2013-11-12 23:02 (UTC)
I did, too. That was amazing.
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