Garuda is a short story I wrote that’s been published in Volume 6 of Curiosities, under their World War II edition. It’s inspired by my uncle’s memoir, which he wrote prior to his 80th birthday as a record of our family’s roots and how they survived WWII and the Japanese Occupation. His book is not available for general purchase — it’s family only — and this story is set in a part of the book where my family hid from the Occupation in a forested area. Southeast Asian people whose families went through the Occupation would be familiar with the start of the story: the women in grey clothing with their heads shaved, hiding in the trees away from a refugee camp upon rumour of there being soldiers in the vicinity. It was one of the more prevalent stories I saw shared during one of those twitter memes that did the rounds, about family WWII stories. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was a story unfamiliar to non-SEA people.
The effects of WWII still linger. South Korea reached a settlement with Japan over ‘comfort women’ in 2015, whereby Japan apologised to victims and created a fund to help them. The Yasukuni shrine visits remain a matter of controversy each year. Further, it amazes me that Nazis are a thing again. Even in Melbourne. It’s a strange timeline we live in now, with darker times ahead. I don’t know whether things will get better.
Understandably, my uncle’s memoir was less concerned about geopolitical themes, instead going into the intricacies of everyday life in the camp. I found some of the details unexpected when I first read the memoir, and I’ve incorporated a tiny fraction of my favourite things into this short story. Hope you enjoy Garuda — and the rest of the stories in the anthology. You can buy the book here.
Story Stats for Garuda
Submitted: June 2019
Contract Received: 17 Jul 2019
Edits: 19-24 Jul 2019
Published: December 2019