While closing his eyes, his mind took him back to 1941 to the exact location of Karawang, West Java. He revealed that several parachutists had landed in the Sungaibuntu area, northern Karawang. They turned out to be "paratroopers" or platoon members from a Japanese army paratrooper unit, who were deliberately parachuted into enemy territory.

Enemy territory? Who is this "enemy"? "Who else if not Japan. They are our enemies and we are their enemies," said my late grandfather, when he was still able to speak fluently.

He was 93 years old when he was telling this story. But don't ask about his memory. Extraordinary!

I got this story in 2019, precisely during Eid al-Fitr that year. As usual, Angrybow tries to inform readers through this short storytelling. As usual, every time we celebrate Eid al-Fitr in our family, we always try to gather together - from me as the child's generation, my mother, our children as the grandchildren's generation, and our late grandfather as the great-grandfather's generation. 

My grandfather was the only great-grandfather who was still alive at that time, because my grandmother had died in 2017 or two years earlier.


My grandfather in 2019. He is my mother's dad.


And just this year, 2022, my grandfather left us forever at the age of 96. We can only accompany prayer, through unseen prayers and dhikr for him and my grandmother, when on pilgrimage. Now, all we have are the memories we have of him, especially the stories of his struggles when the deceased was still active in the Indonesian Army and Indonesian Air Force. Yes, there are two dimensions that he has handled while on duty.

In the Indonesian Army, my grandfather initially joined the army when he was only 16 years old, as a spy for farmer fighters. Then when Japan came, grandfather became part of the PETA formed by Japan. Then from PETA, my grandfather was recruited by BKR which later changed its name to TNI. When in the Indonesian Army, my grandfather was in the first batch of special forces. 

But somehow, apparently my grandfather was also able to operate a fighter airplane. Eventually he was transferred to become a pilot. From then until he retired, my grandfather was listed as Chief Sergeant of the Indonesian Air Force.

Born in January 1926, since child, my grandfather was used to wasting time such as betting, fighting at the market, and even being sent into the jungle to help the 'Dutch meneer' who liked to hunt animals. That's why my grandfather was able to learn unusual movements in the field, quickly.


Me and him


So, back to the story when Japanese troops were deployed in Karawang, my grandfather was still 15 years old at that time. Cirebon, Indramayu, Karawang were his favorite areas for adventure when he was young. Understandably, while studying at the Islamic boarding school, my grandfather's academic performance was not brilliant, so he mostly did activities outside of school. However, his ability to read and write, especially Arabic letters and Dutch spelling, is very good. From that ability, my grandfather was often asked to spy on situations.

In 1941, at that time the Netherlands had independent cities or regions that were left independent by the VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie), including Karawang. The city, which was also made independent by the Dutch - to have its own government, of course became a coordinating area during the Dutch occupation. Including in terms of handing over tribute.

"That's why Japan deliberately sent out its spies, to study the situation and make a strategy. Finally in 1942 in Tarakan, North Kalimantan, Japan was able to defeat the Dutch," said grandfather. But what's interesting I want to know is, what did they do after jumping and landing in Karawang? 

"Their appearance is similar to Chinese traders. They can speak Chinese too. So they are trading in Karawang, collaborating with traders there. But while trading, they steal information," said the grandfather.

However, according to grandfather, it seems that Japanese spies came to Indonesia before 1941, of course on various occasions. 

"Maybe there are those who come from land routes, disguised as investors, businessmen, or whatever. Maybe it's also done like now, where Chinese workers are said to be circulating in many parts of Indonesia now," said the grandfather, referring to the issue of Chinese workers arriving here, to work on infrastructure projects since early 2019. 

But will China behave like Japan in the past? Hmmm, I hope not, I guess...