A childhood memory
A childhood memory
I was very spoiled as a child, and specially spoiled by my mother. I suppose that was because I was the youngest of the family.
I was particularly close to one of my brothers, who was just three years older than me. He was the youngest of the boys, as I was the youngest of the girls in the family and we both were very spoiled by our parents and everybody around us. At home we both had the same teacher and we played together most of the time, while our other brothers and sisters were much older than us and paid us no attention.
My brother liked to tease me, and I often rushed to tell my mother to get him ‘scolded'. And each time my mother told me: “He just wanted to tease you, but he loves you”, nevertheless she scolded him gently to please me, and I was very happy with that.
After the Japanese coup d'état, (I was about seven years old) my father and the other ministers resigned from their posts so that the Emperor had a free hand to form a new government. We went to live in our country house. My brother and I went to the same small school. It was on the hillside just five minutes walk from our house. Each time we returned home, my mother asked me whether my brother had been kind to me, and each time I replied "No", and he was "gently" scolded, and I was very happy ... !
During that period there were often air raids by the American bombers against the Japanese invaders. The schoolboys and girls, the "elder" ones, and the teachers had to dig individual or collective trenches on the hill slope behind the school. Our gardener and driver (they were kind of handymen in the house) went to the school one afternoon to dig two individual trenches, near to each other, at the foot of some bushes on the hill slope, for my brother and me. My father also offered to the school to have four big collective trenches dug by the villagers (otherwise it would be part of my brother's job, because he was amongst the "elder" schoolboys ! And so the trenches would then be ready in just one or two days' time !).
Each time the air raid siren was heard, the schoolboys and girls had to rush to the trenches, each one to his place. My brother always came to my class to fetch me so that we could run to the hill together. One day, when I was already in my trench, I saw the American bombers coming directly towards us, but my brother was not yet in his trench, I heard him still running, busy looking for something around the bushes. I shouted to him with all my strength: “Get into your trench ! Get into your trench !” But then he came upon my trench and dropped a leafy branch he had just ripped from some bushes, and hastily ordered me: “Cover yourself with it, your robe is too bright !” (because I was wearing my beautiful scarlet red silk tunic, the one my mother had had made for me some months previously as I was designated to offer flowers to the queen on her visit to the girls' school I frequented, just before the Japanese coup d'état). Then my brother tumbled down. I had not heard him jump into his trench yet, when the American planes were right over our heads, skimming dreadfully over the hillside and series of deafening bombs were heard right next to my trench (but in reality the bombs were dropped far away). Panic stricken, I called to him, sobbing, but had no answer. Miserably I thought: “He is dead because of me ! He loves me !”
When we returned home my mother asked me the usual question “Has your brother been kind to you today ?” I said : “Yes”. Both my mother and my brother were startled. And from that day on, my answer was always “yes”, and I have never caused him to be “scolded” since then. But my mother and my brother didn't know and have never known why there was such a sudden change on my part.
I'm sure that he has long since forgotten this anecdote. Why should I remind him ! But for me it's a precious memory.
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