Thursday was no better.
My uncle and his family were anxious and troubled by the events but undecided about what to do. They were as relieved to see us as we were to see them. We felt somewhat reassured by the fact that they weren’t as affected by the happenings. While they were sympathetic about what had happened to us, they were not completely convinced that anything like that could happen in Muar. They were prove wrong all too soon.
On the day after we arrived, at about 4pm, after tea, my father and I decided to take a walk. The cloudless blue sky and the calmness in the town soothed us so much that we were actually beginning to relax in the uneventful afternoon. But our simple pleasure was short-lived. I looked up squinting at the sun and in the distance caught sight of some glinting silver objects falling from the sky. I nudged my father and pointed upwards. All he took was one look before he grabbed my arm and started to run. “Run! Run!” he yelled. As we dashed back into the house we heard the drone of low flying planes. The whole family, mine and my uncle’s, dived under a bench in the store room in the kitchen.
(At this point, I had to ask my dad, how a bench could provide any protection from the bombings. Likewise, I wondered how safe a staircase could be since my dad and his family had hidden under one the day before. To this my dad responded laughing, “We never thought about that. We had no clue what to do and we hid under anything that we thought could protect us from falling objects.”)
Trembling under the bench we heard the bombing of Muar town and river. The assault sank a cargo vessel which was going upstream with supplies for the settlements on the banks, and whipped up panic and frenzy among the gentle folk of the small town. Once again the attack that was meant more to frighten and to warn the people of an advancing superior power than to destroy, lasted for about thirty minutes.
As soon as the blasting stopped the family assembled together. My uncle was a man of considerable influence in the small town and so all the Indians quickly gathered in the house as well. We all decided to leave together. Again, the bigger group gave us more courage. Our lives had been shattered, our belongings lost and whatever we thought was normal was completely destroyed. The only solace that we could find was in familiar faces and in camaraderie.
We decided as group, to move inland and away from the main thoroughfares.
Chapter Navigation Links
Part 1 - Languid Plantation Streams
Part 2 - Storm
Part 3 - Calm but murky waters
Muar and an uncertain certainty