Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I Killed For Merdeka

Dear Mr Javalier,

My name is Haji Samad from Mersing, Johor. I'm 77 years old, and dying of old age. I write this to you now to release what I've been keeping in my heart and mind for the past 50 or so years. Even my family does not know of my past. What I write to you now, I hope you will spread to others so that they know what war can create in a man. I will try to detail events that I remember and experience.

Back during the Japanese occupation, I fought for Malaysia, but really, I fought for myself. I am the only child of my family. I was 15 years old that early December 1941 when the Japanese came into my kampung in Kota Bahru, Kelantan. Three Japanese soldier came into my house, ransacking and pillaging food and supplies that they can find before leaving. My father tried to stop them but they killed him in front of my mother and I. I fought them as well but they slashed me at the stomach, and I fell. Two of them left my house while another tried to rape my mother.

The cut was not deep, and in bloody rage, I managed to grab a knife and plunge it deep into the back of the Japanese's neck. That was my first kill of many. The other Japanese heard the commotion and came back into the house. That's when my mum told me to just run, get away through the kitchen door. I wanted to run, but I cannot leave her alone. The two Japanese pulled my mother up, making her face me. They asked me to come closer. Then they thrust a sword right through my mother's body, smiling and laughing, coaxing me to fight them. They were careful not to hit vital organs in my mother's body, then they twist the sword with my mother crying in agony. They pulled out the sword, and thrust again. Amidst the crying, my mother shouted me to get away. I think it was the third thrust that I left, after hearing my mother said her final prayers.

I couldn't remember how long I ran. I was not found that day. During the night, I met a few other survivors in the forest, and most were young. I did not talk to them. I found knives and I kept two. I cannot recall the details of my first few days living alone in the forest. My father taught me well on jungle survival that I was able to find food and water easily. I was more fueled by revenge to feel hungry or thirsty most of the time.

My second kill came within a week. I came up behind a soldier and slashed his throat, and he fell. He didn't die straight away as I didn't slash deep enough, and he was shouting for help. I hid, for about a minutes I hid listening to him calling out for help amidst the blood oozing out from his throat and mouth. I came out of hiding then, looked at him right in the eyes. War then turned me into a monster. I took our my sharp knife. I stabbed him in the stomache, and remembering how my mother died, I twisted the knife that was still in his body. He body went into violent shiver at the pain, I pulled out the knife. Again, I stabbed between his right ribs, and again I twisted the knife. Again the soldier shook.

That was the turning point of my humanity. I was not only doing it for revenge, but I was enjoying it. Many days afterwards, I repeated my tactics. Everytime I spot a soldier, I will watch him for hours before making my move. Everytime I sprang at them, I will be careful not to kill them, but instead silent them enough to not allow them to shout. I will let them look at me, and let them see the way I stab and twist, stab and twist, also careful not to hit important organs. Then I leave them there to die slowly. It was an adrenalin rush torturing them before death. I smiled, I laughed, I turned into one of them.

Stab and twist. That was my lust. It feeds my already darkened soul and it was my only source of entertainment. Days come and go, I started to be partly insane. I learn human anotomy by my own knife. I learn where to stab, where to cut, where to twist to inflict the most pain, at the same time to prolong their dying minutes. A month later, I came across Malayan soldiers. I've already lost count of my kills after twenty in just three weeks. They took me in after I told them of my ability and my experience.

I was only with them for two weeks. I grew tired of battles in the forest, and capturing and questioning of surviving Japanese soldiers for information. I'm not at all thrilled with the capturing of prisoners and questionings. It slowed my time, it slowed my need to kill. One night, I killed all four Japanese prisoners and left the group.

Without realising it, I was travelling southbound. I stayed alive by hunting and fruits, and I kept killing. By the time the war ended four years later, I have not make any friends. I was 19 then, and showed myself for the first time in Negeri Sembilan. A family took me in to be one of their own. The kampung has two sympathetic Japanese soldiers who stopped getting involved in the war since early 1942 and has stayed in the kampung, under the guise that they are still loyal to their nation, but has actually decided to help out in the kampung.

For two months I was with my new family in 1945, when I decided to be on my way again. I left the house in the middle of the night, headed southbound, but not before I have taken care of two victims. My hatred for the Japanese was too great to leave them alive in the kampung.

It was in Mersing that I settled down. I was accepted into the community, got married and had children. I was content. No one knew of my past. I changed my name. Samad is not my given name. Then I got to know of Merdeka. I respect the late Tunku Abdul Rahman for his diplomacy in giving Malaysia its independence. I do not have the patience for diplomacy.

My contribution to my country is by taking people's lives. I am not ashamed of that, but I cannot make that an example for my family. I am at awed at how the Japanese shifted from military strength to industrial strength. Until today I still hate them. Nothing can change that.

Life does not come without irony. My daughter has a Japanese husband. She claims he's a very nice man. They got married in 1985. I gave her my blessing, but I did not meet him, nor did I attend their wedding. She did not understand why, nor did my wife or my two sons. I only tell them that I grew up in the Japanese occupation and left it at that.

Forever my hatred for the Japanese will be in me, and I believe it will follow me to my death. I do not regret it. If it wasn't my thirst for revenge and my hate, I will not have lived until today. I have sometimes believe that I was the one who killed my mother, by killing that Japanese soldier. It might have turned out differently, but I cannot change the past. Even if I can, I will do the same, killing the soldier than letting him have my mother.

Malaysia was liberated by diplomacy, but the road to freedom was by blood. I wish for all Malaysians to understand, at least to relive how it feels like to be a prisoner in your own home, only then can we understand freedom. Happy 48th Birthday to Malaysia, and thank you Mr Javalier, for having the time to read what I had to write.

I can die in peace now, that the skeletons are out of the closet.

Haji Samad Solehuddin

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