A Japanese visitor

We missed my father terribly and it didn’t look like that he was coming home soon although he always wrote us optimistic postcards.
My mother was much less optimistic, she was very worried about the future.

One morning my mother received a phone call from Mrs. Sloekers, who told her that she just had a Japanese visitor, who was very polite and friendly so she told my mother.
The visitor had asked her if she could play the piano, she told him that she couldn’t play well but that Mrs. van Kampen ( my mother) played wonderfully well. The Japanese gentleman was on his way to our house, she told my mother.

But my mother was not pleased at all, she was very angry with Mrs. Sloekers.
Cora and I tried to calm her down, because it wouldn’t do us any good to be so angry before our Japanese visitor was coming.

A tall Japanese officer stepped out of his car when his Indonesian driver had opened the car door. I can still see him walking up the stairs greeting my mother very politely and he said that he liked her beautiful living room.
Luckily my mother wasn’t angry anymore so she asked him what he would like to drink and I remember that he asked for a lemon juice.
While he sat down he looked at us all and asked my mother if we were all four her daughters.
“No, my mother said, she ( pointing at Cora) is my eldest daughter’s friend and she stays with us for a while. I have three daughters”.

He then asked my mother if she would mind very much to play something for him on her piano. “Yes, I hope that I may keep my piano, I have this piano since I was 8 years old.” my mother answered. Our visitor just smiled and my mother started to play … beautiful as always.

While my mother played the piano our Japanese visitor closed his eyes now and then, he really seems to like the way my mother played. But he also looked at Henny several times and that started worrying me.
After a while my mother stopped playing and our Japanese visitor stood up and applauded for her. He said that she really played very well, he thanked her.
Then he wrote down something in Japanese on a piece of paper and gave that to my mother.
He said that he advised her to go to the Lavalette Clinic ( that was our hospital in Malang) with Henny. My mother could then hand over his note and they would call for him because he was a doctor working at this hospital. He told my mother that he wanted to examine my sister, he found her very skinny.
My mother asked when she could come and he told her that he would phone her.
He gave my mother a hand, thanked her again for the lovely music she had played for him, stroke Jansje over her hair, waved Henny, Cora and me goodbye and left us all astonished just standing there.
Within a week my mother had a phone-call from the Lavelette Clinic, they told her that Henny had to stay two weeks in the hospital, the Japanese doctor, our visitor had arranged that Henny should get artificial sun light since he had noticed that my sister had the beginning of rickety. My mother was advised to stay in Malang during these 2 weeks, and so she did.
She visited my father several times while she was in Malang.
Before Henny could leave the Lavalette Clinic again the doctor spoke one more time with my mother and he gave her a small box with all sorts of medicines, for instance quinine, aspirini, iodine and so on. I didn’t know this of course, she told me that many years after the war, when I mentioned once that I had found our Japanese visitor that day in May 1943,a nice and friendly man.
This kind Japanese doctor has given my sister a chance to get through the war, by giving her those two weeks treatment and giving my mother a small box with medicines, he has most certainly helped us a little when later on the Japanese occupation became a real hell on earth.
I have often wondered … did the Japanese visitor know what was coming? Did he know that we were going to suffer terribly and that many Dutch children were going to die?

I don’t know his name, but I like to say: “Thank you Japanese visitor, thank you very much for your help Japanese doctor”.