Make It Anywhere – The School of Hard Knocks

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere,” goes the famous song about New York City. Is there a place — a city, a school, a company — about which you think (or thought) the same? Tell us why, and if you ever tried to prove that claim.

When I thought of my parents and grandparents who had to experience the Japanese Occupation in Singapore in the 1940s as young teens and parents respectively, I saw them as giants, heroes and heroines for facing such hardships and heartbreaks. As I grew up blissfully unaware of their past and they also looked after my generation and the next as if that 2nd World War never took place on our soil or was not experienced by them. Of course we learnt from history classes and some public broadcast programs about our history, but it seemed something remote and far away from us.

I feel that what they had faced cannot be compared to anything that this generation in developed and peaceful nations are facing such as issues on gender inequality, income disparity, age biasness, etc. What are these compared to hunger, torture, sexual abuse, slavery and horrific killings. The silence of my parents and maternal grandmother (the only grandparent I grew up with) on details of this event made me realise or suspect that it was a memory they wished to erase as well as knowledge they wished to shield us from.

True grit is what I see in them and they can make it anywhere for sure. It is these people in my life that sacrificed everything for future generations. They made me believe that I can make it anywhere because they had proved it by their selfless life for us. There is no need for me to prove anything as it is recorded in history books.


Make It Anywhere – DP


6 thoughts on “Make It Anywhere – The School of Hard Knocks

  1. I agree, too. I have a book, THREE CAME HOME, written by Agnes Newton Keith about her time in a women’s Japanese POW camp in Borneo. Her husband was imprisoned in the men’s camp, along with captured Allied soldiers –mostly Aussies. She describes their survival in this setting — the deprivation and suffering — tastefully yet vividly.


    • Yes, indeed it was not only the local community that faced the atrocities, the Allied forces and British soldiers were victims too and we have a museum among other memorials here commemorating them including people you mentioned in the book.


  2. Ken Burn’s documentary “The War” gave a glimpse into the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, which was probably not unlike the occupation of Singapore. What is amazing is that your relatives endured these horrors and then rebuilt their lives, although they suffered greatly. I agree: in my part of the world, at any rate, nothing can compare to those dark times.

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