There was wide spread chaos when the war hit. People ran to hide from the oncoming invasion of the Japanese and soldiers ransacked houses for any hidden weapons or anything that may go against the invasion of the Japanese.
I remembered they took Father. They took him far, far away. Made him board a truck and drove off, Mother and I never saw him since. He was a good man. Had a modest business and was well read. We were doing well, as a family of three and lead an easy life, a life full of happiness and bliss. That was until the war came.
We all had to run away. There was no other choice. When father was taken away, I remembered that Mother was rushing around the house, taking whatever we needed. We were running away.
Mother held my hand on her right and was carrying a sack on her left. She yanked the door open, but we were too late.
The Japanese soldiers were standing right outside our door. Mother pushed me behind her back, a feeble attempt in trying to protect me. The soldiers advanced and every time, Mother would take a step back until we were both cornered.
They grabbed me from behind and took me away. I was only seven. I heard Mother screaming my name, all the while I was struggling under the Japanese soldier's grip. Until we reached the door, Mother's screams were cut short and I couldn't hear her anymore.
I saw a pool of blood form from Mother's lifeless figure before I was yanked hard on the collar and was told to move. The Japanese soldier did not walk far before we arrived at a colossal truck.
It was painted in shades of an ugly green and grey. Boarding the truck, I was not the only one. Other children around my age were all on board the truck, either tear-ridden or eyes swollen and puffy from all the crying. They have all given up fighting, just like I did.
The Japanese soldier locked up the truck and shouted something to the driver in Japanese before the engines of the truck revved up and started to rumble. We were soon driving down the dirt path, winding past wrecked homes and smoking piles of rubble.
All of us sat in silence. We were all scared. Where would they be taking us? What would happen? Many questions flooded my brain, but sadly all of them would be left unanswered.
With the rumbling stopping and the sound of the engine cutting, we knew we arrived at our destination.
Footsteps resounded before the door of the truck was opened forcefully with a horrendous bang that made all the children wince in fright. Barking out instructions in Japanese, the children did not need to understand to know that they were told to come out.
Standing up, their legs felt weak after the long journey as they were all seated down cross-legged. After everyone was off the truck, the truck left down the same route, most possibly searching for more children that they missed.
As for the group of us, we were herded like a group of sheep into a building that just spelt misery and loneliness. Entering through the huge metal doors, we came to a huge courtyard. Father showed me pictures of this kind of places before. This was definitely a prison.
Going into the main building, my sentiments were right. Cells were aligned in neat rows on either side. They were no bigger than the size of a dinning table. One by one, the soldiers gripped us by our forearms individually and assigned our cells to us.
The children surrendered in defeat and as they were locked up and left in that claustrophobic room. I was the same as all the children, no special treatment or anything. Knowing nothing I do could get me out of there, I lay down on the pile of hay they called a bed and tried to let sleep embrace me.
Lying on the same pile of hay five years later, I remembered the events of that day as clear as day. How could anyone forget such a painful event?
Staring out the small window of the cell, the weak light of the moon, shone in. Everybody was supposed to be asleep, but I could not. It was my birthday today. I remembered the date as every night on my birthday; the moon would shine the brightest and was the roundest.
"Happy birthday." I muttered silently to myself.
I hung my head as the wounds on my back throbbed. Different from five years ago, wounds and scares overlaid my body. I was a rebellious prisoner you could say; I had way too many breakout plans. But this prison was heavily guarded and there was just no way out.
I was whipped on a daily basis. The other children would helplessly watch as strokes and strokes were befallen on me. I would not shout. I would not scream. That would just make it enjoyable for those Japanese fools. Beads of sweat would pour down my face as I clenched my teeth in pain. It would be over, I coaxed myself. It would be over.
Now letting my smelly and messy hair fall over my face, a new plan was forming in the crevices of my mind. Out of the blue, a lone light from a torch was shone into my cell, straight into my eyes. The blaring lights made me jump and caused the wounds to open and I winced.
My eyes adjusted to the light to see that it was a Japanese soldier who was the bearer of the torch.
The first thought that came into my mind, they are here for me. Gesturing for me to move closer to the bars, the soldier had a tensed expression on his face. I made my way cautiously over, not knowing what they had in the mind of theirs.
Now face to face with the soldier, he whispered to me in rapid, fluent Chinese.
"I'm helping you. Helping you break out. Be quiet and follow me. This is your only chance."
I gave the soldier a questioning look, wondering why he chose to help me instead of the others.
Reading my thoughts, he said silently, "You remind me of my daughter."
Happiness and relief flooded my body. I could finally escape! The door to my cell was opened with the softest creak escaping. The soldier passed me a sack, containing some necessities that would help after I escaped.
Leading me to the far end of the room, there was a window big enough for me that was just over a few shrubs and trees. The soldier told me that the window had no fence below it and that once I landed on the ground below, I was free.
I gave the soldier a hug; it felt like I knew him for too long a time. He hugged me back and boosted me onto the window's ledge. Nodding towards the soldier, I jumped without a care and landed with a soft thud on the cushioned ground below.
Peeling myself off of the shrubbery, I heaved my sack and ran towards freedom.
This gift that was given on my birthday that no one could understand how much it meant to me, was the best gift I would and would ever receive.