Friday, May 23, 2014

Searching For The Missing Link

A few years ago, I shared the story of my childhood in this blog entitled Time & Its Healing Properties. And then a few months ago, when my grandfather fell sick, I visited him at the hospital and shared the account of that visit here. Shortly after that visit, my grandfather passed away while I was in New Zealand for the Ironman race.

This lately I've been thinking about my real grandfather, the Japanese officer who was posted to the then North Borneo Island, now Sabah. As a little boy, I overheard conversations by my late grandmother that he was a high-ranking Japanese Officer during the Second World War. But when the Japanese surrendered in the mid-forties, he had to leave Sabah to go home to Japan. After that all contacts were lost. Even my father have never met his own father.

The hope of meeting my Japanese grandfather today is very remote; if he's still alive—I doubt it—he'd be a very old man by now. But it's entirely possible that he had another family in Japan after the war. After all, he was still a fairly young man when he left Sabah all those years ago. 

Unfortunately, there isn't much that I know about him. Even his name is something of a confusion. My late grandmother knew his name, of course, and somebody tried to search for that name in the archive in Japan many years ago, but could not find any match. In fact, one has to wonder if there is proper records for all the soldiers at that time.

A few months ago, two of my close friends ran the Tokyo Marathon, and they had a lot of good things to say about the event. I'm therefore keen to join that race next year. However, it's not so easy to join, as that event is well sought-after, and one has to put one's name in the ballot system and then relies on luck for his name to be picked. When the Tokyo Marathon opens for registration, I will just submit my name and just forget about it for a bit. If my name gets picked, then I will run the race next year. If not, then I will try again the following year.

I'm not sure where exactly to start, but I will find a way to embark on gathering as much information as I can about my Japanese grandfather, and if there is a good lead, I may spend a little longer after the Tokyo Marathon—assuming that I can get a slot in the race—to search for possible relatives in Japan. It's just a matter of curiosity. Obviously, it is a long shot but one can never tell how these things may turn out in the end. All this is a very ambitious plan, but I'm not putting much hope for success. 

As a side issue, it's rather amusing that I was even contemplating learning some basic Japanese, so that if necessary, at least I can speak a bit of the language to communicate with them. But then I changed my mind when I was watching the movie Wolverine recently of which the story was set mainly in Japan. I was, like, "Oh wow! Japanese is an extremely difficult language to learn!" It is also spoken extremely fast! Maybe it would take me many years to learn even a bit! So I guess I will just focus on finding out more about the soldier first. Let's see what information I can get from the mostly-senile old members of my family in Sabah!

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