themselves on him, took his gun, beat him, and then ran away. The story wentaround the camp like wildﬁre. We all waited, trembling with fear, for theconsequences.A week later we saw the Japanese guard with a black eye and his arm in a sling.He patrolled the camp looking around viciously for somebody who didn’t bow. Butthat was as far as his retribution went. If he had admitted to his superiors that hewas attacked by ﬁve defenseless women, he would have lost face.The guards often were cruel and capricious, but I remember one who wasdifferent from the rest. Takashi arrived without fanfare on one of the days wewere digging trenches. Each day we had worked in the hot sun until lunchtime. AJapanese soldier would lay in the shade of a tree and make sure we weren’t idle.On this day, however, the usual guard did not turn up. In his place came Takashi,small and insigniﬁcant.We didn’t take much notice of him at ﬁrst. We simply went on working as usual.But Takashi did not recline under the tree as his predecessor had, instead hevisited each of the trenches. He seemed greatly amused that we needed ropeladders to get in and out of them, and he tried to make conversation with us, butwe couldn’t speak Japanese and his Malay was very broken.At noon, we had an hour off for lunch. All we had to eat was dry tapioca bread. Itwas a dirty gray color with black spots in it and had the texture of rubber. Takashiate his lunch alone under the tree. Then something extraordinary happened. Hewalked over to where we sat and handed me and another girl the rest of hislunch. It was real white bread with butter on it! “Trimakasi!” I exclaimed, thankinghim. He waved his hand and sat down next to us. He said something andgesticulated toward the spade. Clearly, he wanted to know what it was called.“Patjoel,” a girl replied. He smiled happily and repeated it. And so beganTakashi’s ﬁrst lesson in Malay. He was a keen pupil and before we knew it ourlunch hour had stretched to two hours. We could not believe our good luck.The next day Takashi brought a bag of sweets and two packets of cigarettes. Heproceeded to talk to us in sign language, waving his arms in all directions. Hethen covered his mouth with his hand and pointed to the sweets and cigarettes.He shook his head until he was dizzy and then jumped up and stood to attention.Then he gave himself two hearty slaps on his cheeks. We all burst out laughingand Takashi shone with delight that his effort had been a success. We all clearlyunderstood that he did not want us to tell anybody about these gifts.