Teaser Tuesday: Gamelan––Growing up under Japanese Occupation
I’ve been researching and trying to write a story based on my family’s experience in World War II for about ten years now, ever since Dad started to open up about his experience. For ten years we’ve been sitting down with each other, talking about events, locations and his experiences, getting clear about the “when” and “wheres” of his time as a prisoner. When we first sat down together, it was difficult for him to remember just how many prisons he was in and how long he had been a prisoner. But, together, we pieced the puzzle together. I’ve read that “why” isn’t a very spiritual question. I kind of like that insight.
I’ve tried five different times to write the story as a novel. And, well…it just wasn’t happening. Each attempt fell apart for one reason or another. And then, after I’d taken only a few storyboarding classes at Art Center at Night, creative fireworks went off and I saw the whole story. I like to write my novels cinematically, so I guess the transition to screenplays is natural, even as I have a lot to learn. Part of the reason why this story hasn’t come together as a novel has to do with the fact that the scope of the story has seemed so epic to me, spanning several generations, and like my screenplay writing instructor said, “that’s the trouble with true stories”…all the details. The story needed focus and that’s what I’ve been working very hard on over the past few months. Here is the opening scene from Gamelan.
EXT. JAPANESE POW CAMP, TJIMAHI, OCCUPIED JAVA 1943
A bamboo and barbed wire fence. An old, white man’s emaciated wrinkled, shaky hand clenches three cigarettes. The boney, but steady hand of HANS (19) takes the cigarettes from the old man.
HANS hammers a crooked nail into a rough-hewn wooden plank.
NINETY YEAR OLD MAN WITH A DUTCH ACCENT (V.O.)
Liberty is something you can’t understand until it’s taken away. You become a different person. You become a prisoner. You learn what it is to survive.
Last weekend my family had a reunion where we celebrated Dad’s 90th birthday!
Happy Birthday Dad!