THE SLEEPING GHOST

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By: Bonifacio G. Perpuse

My father,  Juan,  Sr, who is  still alive at age 87, is a veteran of World  War II. He was  a new recruit  of the Philippine Army  during  the Japanese  Occupation. He was  designated to used the machine gun.  But after the infamous  Death March of which he was a lucky survivor, he became  a  member of a guerilla force operating  in Pangasinan, his home  province, while waiting for the return of the American  forces.  Their task was to monitor the night movement of the Japanese patrol. They were told to avoid encounter with the enemies. They were not  meant to fight them because the civilians would suffer the consequences  of reprisal.  Besides, my father’ group was not fully armed.  The group  had only one short  and long  fire arm and with limited ammunition.  They were seven in that group.

One bright night  when they  were on their  tour of duty, they decided  to sleep.  But they were in the middle of a rice field which was  not really  a comfortable place to rest for the night. They had to avoid  sleeping  in that place, the sneaky  Japanese soldiers  might see and catch them  easily.  The Japanese soldiers  had the ability of stealth- they can  attack  quietly, their enemies were always caught  off guard.  My father had this bad experience with them before.  He recalled how they were  caught  by  the Japanese before their planned surrender to Join the Death March.  During  that fateful morning, they decided to take  their breakfast  first  before surrendering . But as  they were  about to  start their meal, they  were pulled up by someone by their collars.  As they looked behind, they  saw that the Japanese soldiers were already there with their bayonets pointed at them.

Concerned for their story safety,  they looked  for a safer place to sleep.  They were  lucky  to find a leveled ground in a nearby river.  the ground  was under  a tree  and was  well hidden by bushes. They built  a makeshift  sleeping  area by putting  several bamboos  and woods across on the  ground  and on a portion of the narrow river.  The structure was high  enough to keep their  backs  dry from  the river. Feeling safe, all seven of  them went to sleep.  In the middle of the night,  one of them  got up to take  a pee.  Upon  his return to his place, he counted his companions  to check if anyone  was missing.  He was surprised to count seven. There were supposed  to be only six since he didn’t count himself. To be sure, he counted his comrades yet again.  He still  counted seven bodies.  The next thing he did   was to wake the others. When all  seven of them were up,  one body was  still fast asleep. Without any word,  my father and the rest scampered  away, unmindful of the possible from the Japanese patrol. They  were sure, that was  an entity sleeping with them.

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