I SOMETIMES WONDER, why do people do the things they do. Specifically, why did I become interested in focusing on wartime subjects when I was born and raised in times of peace?
My parents were born during the early 1920’s in the Dutch East Indies, a colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. My mother was sixteen and my father was twenty years old when the War began, which abruptly shattered their happy and prosperous youth, leaving an indelible impression.
Prosperity and privacy quickly became a thing of the past. Their families were separated and scattered throughout camps that were divided between those for men, women, and boys (10 years old and above), often without any knowledge of each other’s fate. Freedom and security were replaced by the grim bondage of, in my father’s case, slave labor. For my mother, it meant life in an internment camp, facing hunger, disease and the threat of being taken in as a comfort woman—a forced prostitute for the Japanese armed forces.