We mentioned to my almost 86 year old uncle that we recently visited the National Museum. There was an exhibit about the Second World War and Japanese Occupation of Singapore.
It made him recollect: “When we heard the sirens we ran so fast.” It was during the war, he and his family used to run to a richer relative’s house to take shelter behind the staircase. There were no bomb shelters. “I was 5 years old.”
Also he recalled the conversations of adults around him although he didn’t actually witness the acts. “The Japanese soldiers were very strict. They slapped people. It was terrible” Remember this is from a little kid’s perspective. Far worse things happened.
One thing I didn’t know or didn’t even think about, was that his education was disrupted and he only attended primary one at age 10. I can’t imagine what that was like?
These days I feel sorry for the disruptions children face due to the pandemic, but a total halt in education is devastating. I think it was also because primary school education was not compulsory then.
Immediately my mind went to the children facing war in the Ukraine and even worse the Afghan girls who have been denied education by the Taliban takeover. I can’t imagine fearing for your safety every minute of every day. So I feel extremely fortunate in contrast.
My uncle’s mind is still so sharp, although his body may have weakened. I am so impressed by his memory and look forward to hearing more stories about old Singapore. I feel especially warm inside when he mentions my dad, his little brother, in his recollections. To know that my dad was loved and appreciated by someone other than myself is something I need.