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  • Pauline Kok

AUTUMN COLOUR MEMORIES

When you reach a certain age, you are often looking back more over the past years. Sometimes I sit down, often outside, and disappear in my memories. I walked yesterday along the river, looking at the colors of autumn; the wonderful colors, so familiar and yet each year so new and haunting. In Canada we are wonderfully blessed by autumn’s beauty. So very different from the same time in the South Pacific, where the climate is tropical year round. I remember walking with my father when I was young and we lived in Indonesia. We didn’t live close to a river, but those walks were fun anyway. And they were precious. There were always the two of us, Mom didn’t like to walk and my brother and sisters were still small. They would soon be crying and wanting to be carried.


Did I ever have a father who then in time, and now in memory, really was my father? Yes I did.


Did I see hidden smiles moving over his face, when Mom was cranky for me not behaving like a girl? Yes, I did.


Did I ever have conversations with him, which I would never dare to have with my Mom? Yes I did.


Till I was nine years old and he disappeared in a Concentration Camp in Burma.


Till he returned years later to never open the door I knocked on to let me in.


Till during the war years, he lost his easy laugh, his feeling for humor, his gentle teasing and his interest in us, children.


Till it became too difficult to talk to him.


Remembering my own experiences during the years of Japanese imprisonment, I understood, but not my young brother or little sisters, whose memories were not like mine. I buried those memories 67 years before I had the courage to share them in my book: ‘The Remains of War’. By then he was gone and thinking about him brings only tears.


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