Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The next few days....

During the next two days Ena and I cast around for other accommodation.  Not only was everybody very cramped at Dagoweg as a result of our arrival, but quite frankly, with the threat of internment hanging over us, we did not wish to be found in the same place where we had stored the belongings we had salvaged.

On the second day, our search found us cycling along the Houtmanstraat (road)nearby where we were hailed by some people sitting on the verandah of this particular house.  These proved to be friends of ours, Mrs Kruseman with her daughter and son in law, Elly and Leo Reindees .  The latter had been, as all other reservists, called up months before and was in the uniform of a captain.  A motor car accident a few weeks earlier had resulted in minor injury to his leg, and as he had been on the sick list when the Japs arrived, they had so far excused him from internment, but he expected to be rounded up any day now.

We learned that they had taken over this house, furnished, from a woman who had gone to Batavia to be with her husband who had been posted on duty there. The Reindees themselves had come from Batavia as Leo's duties necessitated his staying in Bandoeng.  In passing, I many mention that this shifting about of men from one part of Java to another was one of the shafts of criticism levelled at the methods of the military authorities, but I am naturally not capable of judging whether or not such criticism was justified.

As soon as Elly and Leo heard of our predicament, they immediately suggested that Ena and I share the house with them as there was any amount of room.  Their 18 year old son, Robbie, had already been interned and Mrs Kruseman, who had been staying with them for a few days, was returning to her own home on the morrow.  Consequently, they would only be too glad to have our company.

It was really a fine large house and excellently furnished and with such congenial companions we did not hesitate in deciding to take up our abode there.  So the next day, Monday, 6 April we moved in, not without having experienced no little difficulty in finding transport for the frigidaire which we had brought with us.  And, as we had an impression of permanency about this place, I had the piano also brought from the shop and installed in the front room.

The Houtmanstraat was, and still is, built along one side only affording a fine open view of level fields and the foothills some miles away, with the mountains in the background.  This street forms actually the eastern boundary of Bandoeng, and though it was rather far from the office and town generally, the quietness and lovely view more than compensated for this disadvantage.

On Tuesday evening, while I was giving a cinema show with my Kodascope,  imagethe 'phone rang.  It was a message for Leo to the effect that he had to report for internment at 9 am next morning.  It was on this evening, too, that we had listened to the BBC announcer glibly telling the world that the Dutch were still holding out in various parts of Java and that fighting was in progress in the hills around Bandoeng.  The world was apparently as sadly misinformed about the course of events in Java as it had been since the capitulation of the Japs in August, 1945 up to the date of writing.  Next morning Reindees left.  There were now only the three of us and we could not help feeling that a net was closing around us.

In the course of the day Ena and I went for the second time to Dennenlust in an attempt to contact Mrs Graven with a view to gaining possession of the trunks we have left behind.  I have forgotten to mention that we had gone to Dennenlust on the previous Sunday for this purpose but had not found Mrs Graven at home.  On that occasion we had the unique experience of burgling our own house.  Not being able to contact anyone we proceeded to 'Sunny Corner' just to see how it looked.  As the house appeared unoccupied we had wandered round to the rear premises where we found native 'djaga"' (watchman) on duty.  On enquiry we learned that two Jap officers had indeed already taken up residence but that they were usually absent from early morning until late afternoon.

When I asked the 'djaga' if he had a key to the house, he replied that he had, and when I told him to unlock the door he did.  So Ena just went in and grabbed as much as we could carry away on our bikes.  Music, gramophone records, ornaments and goodness knows what else of which we made two huge bundles and which we deposited in the house of a friend, a little way down the hill, to be called for later.  We just said "Terimah kasih" to the 'djaga' and gave him a tip of 25 cents.

On this second occasion, after a lot of running from one place to another, we succeeded in meeting Mrs Graven who assisted us in securing the trunks and in bringing them to Houtmanstraat in her car, Niekerk at the wheel as usual.

**** to be continued

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