Monday, July 11, 2011

Nenek In Her Mystery World

Seeing Japanese soldiers around Nenek's house in Kempas was a usual sight during Japanese Occupation as these soldiers used to ask her ( Nenek's ) mother, to cook for them.

But there was once, when one of these soldiers while walking past Nenek's house, he saw a Chinese woman, into her late pregnancy.
One of the Japanese soldier caught the woman, tied both her hands to her back.
Both her legs were tied too.

Then, without showing any sympathy, the Japanese soldier thrust his long sword into the woman's big belly...

Nenek pre-schooling age then, ran into her house.
She told her mother of what she had just saw: The Chinese woman's belly oozing blood...

Her mother without further delay, quickly bundled her.
They ran further into the deeper jungle of Kempas, to Lukud.
Lukud was the third place of residence for the family of two in Johor Bahru, since Japanese landed in Tanah Melayu, Malaya.

Before, they were staying in Stulang Darat.
Their house was bombed by the invading force.
The only house in the village that escaped the bombing, despite all surrounding houses flattened and on fire, was that belonged to Haji Rashid's.
But that was with his family's rituals safeguarding it.

Often, the young Nenek saw Haji Rashid with his children would sit around the house.
Then ritual prayers were recited.

When Nenek could feel the earth trembling and wobbling, she knew that the very big and very tall giant guard that looked after Haji Rashid's house, was walking around his compound.


For the past few nights, the Japanese soldier who strike the pregnant Chinese woman's belly with his long sharp sword appeared in Nenek's sleep.
He brought along the woman with him.

He went to Nenek, asking for rice for him to eat. 

"Tak mau, tak mau kasi engkau. Engkau setan."

Nenek refused to give him any food.
He was a satan to her.

Both the soldier and the woman appeared in Nenek's sleep for a few nights, before Nenek prepared a handful of rice grains mixed with turmeric and rock salt.
She mixed them together and throw it around her house.
Then the dream stopped.


That was what was being said by Nenek when my daughter and I visited her in her new house in Kempas.

The girl was very close to her Nenek.
The grandmother used to be our next door neighbour.
She treated my daughter as her own grandchild, always showed the girl her greatest concern, always preparing her favourite asam pedas kepala ikan sembilang, whenever the girl was around.
The grandmother was forever willing to stretch her limited finance that she had, for her granddaughter.

I knew that Kempas used to be a black area.
It is only recently that housing development in Kempas took place.

I had heard of communist activity in Kempas area.
One of my husband's friend, his brother disappeared for good in the jungle.
Until today, there is still no trace to his alive or dead body.

My husband's cousin was caught, beaten and thrown into jail.
All of my husband's siblings and relatives, except him, went to Chinese school.
The cousin was suspected to be a communist as one of his friend had vaguely linked to the jungle party.

My husband said, being Chinese and staying not far from forested area, they easy fall prey into becoming one.
So, any Chinese then, could be suspected to be a communist.

The cousin however, was freed from jail.
Alive and kicking today, thriving in his automobile business.


It was only yesterday that I knew Kempas had its own story of Japanese Occupation to tell.

Life has almost comes to a complete circle for Nenek.
Her house she lives in, today, is around the place where she fled after seeing the Japanese soldier with the pregnant Chinese woman.

The peaceful river in front of Nenek's house, with spring water flowing down stream, she said yesterday, its water used to be red.
It was where can easily be found, many Chinese heads and bodies... separated.

In the meantime, Nenek is till mixing a handful of rice grains with turmeric and rock salt.
She is still placing the mixture all around her house.

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