Reminiscing is supposedly a good way to engage persons with dementia, and helps to stimulate their memories whilst feeling good about themselves. Last week I asked mom about the time I was very young, which led to my previous post. This week, I asked her instead about the time when she was very young, which was when the Japanese occupation of Malaya took place. The following is her account:
The war with Japan? No, I don’t remember it.
Oh the Japanese came, and my father gave them liquor in his shop. They sat in the shop and had the liquor there.
My father told my mother to slaughter a chicken for them. Of course, someone else, not my mother, brought the chicken out to them. So they drank liquor and had chicken.
My mother kept her chickens in a dry well outside the kitchen. The well is covered with a wire mesh to keep thieves out. People steal the chickens.
No, it didn’t smell. We threw leftovers down the well for the chickens to eat. It was a large well.
When the Japanese aircraft flew overhead, my mother would ask us children to go under the bridge. This is a stone bridge and 3 or 4 of us kids would go under it where it was dry. The adults? The adults don’t need to go under the bridge…. Maybe… they hid somewhere else.
People washed their clothes under the bridge, but my mother told us to stay away from the water. You could fall in and drown.
Later my father arranged for my brother and me to go to Kuala Lipis to go to school. We two were the ones who could study. We were supposed to stay in a photographer’s house. But the photographer went out one day and died.. of a heart attack. And then his wife died, and his son died. So my uncle came, and saw the situation, and decided to bring us to Penang.
We went to Penang and I went to ACS girls school and my brother went to ACS boys school. Then my uncle was transferred to Butterworth and I went to the Convent school there. So for the first two years of school, I lived with my uncle, my father’s brother.
There was a vague familiarity about mom’s story- I must have heard it before. The three towns mom mentioned are on the map. Kuala Lipis is right in the middle, and as mom lived in a village nearby, it was away from the main Japanese route of invasion. The places she went to school – Georgetown in Penang, and Butterworth, are at the top left corner of the map.
I am glad for this opportunity for mom to remember, and remember accurately. Looking forward to new topics for reminiscing…