Unique are the seasons of life. Their lengths vary; sometimes cut short; sometimes, painfully prolonged.
How well I recall my Spring of life. A child of five, happy and free. Our ten-year-old brother towered above us, ready to fend off harm. The next, a year younger, laughed, pranced and sang. A source of joy. Then my sister. Two years and six months my senior, my dearest companion held a wealth of knowledge.
I trusted they’d be near forever.
Another sister arrived.
Then bombs tore us from home and Japanese invaders ended the Spring of our lives.
Summer was harsh. Our bodies scarcely grew in size except to swell and swell. Beriberi.
With bellies like pregnant women and feet twice their normal size, we thought we’d burst like balloons…
But still we were together.
My brothers, with boyish glee, roamed the countryside. Adventure beckoned. They ran wild in search of food and fun. The hot sun beat down upon them but on they tramped …
My mother, my sisters and I stayed home. The days passed. Our strength ebbed away. We longed for food – and slept.
My first taste of death.
Rats fed on the dead – dead birds, dead animals, dead people. Disease spread; entered our home and stole my sister. Plague.
My baby sister burned with fever; her body sprouted sores. No doctor. No medicine. For days and nights she burned. Smallpox.
Miraculously, she recovered.
The eldest shivered and quivered even in the hell of summer. Drank the bitter herbs we picked – but couldn’t eat. Emaciated and exhausted, he sank down, his strength sapped. Malaria.
Weak and tired. No food to eat. We lay in bed, awaiting death …
Far off we heard – not harps of angels greeting us – but sounds of bagpipes on the plains. It lashed our bodies like a whip. We rose in answer to the call.
Soldiers marched, kilts swayed, kettledrums flourished and pipers led the way. Hope and freedom followed in their wake.
My brother rose, like a ghost, cured by a dose of mepacrine. Saved – we thought.
Still in the summer of our lives, we moved back to the bombed-out city. We lived like squatters in a store, but went to school and learned much more …
Three years since the bagpipers played, God called the eldest to his grave.
The second death.
Years passed. Britain left and Burma bled. Anarchy raged. One by one we fled.
I remained. Alone, but poised to leave.
Finally, I stretched my wings and flew away; my studies incomplete. Torn asunder from kith and kin, what lay in wait, Down Under?
I drank freedom and breathed joy. With open arms love beckoned. I nestled there; content.
Now in the autumn of my years, I listen to the songs of birds, inhale the fragrance of a flower with my dearest friend and lover.
Each day we watch the sun rise and set. It’s autumn. Will it last forever?
Winter must come, but when it does, we’ll meet the future hand-in-hand as we depart this glorious land.
A Synopsis of my memoir: See No Evil: story of a warchild
Published in 2013 Seasons Anthology
by Carindale Writers’ Group.