#MondayMakjang Take Two – this time without any inappropriate words

I’m fascinated by family secrets, by what people choose to tell to others and what they choose to keep silent. But what if it’s not a secret but purely knowledge that hasn’t been shared?

That’s what happened in my family.

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    During the second world war my grandfather (my mother’s father) was in the resistance and he distributed newspapers that were sharing news of the Allied victories. Clearly illegal at the time. A year before the war ended, he was arrested but he miraculously survived and made it back home. When I wrote my second novel, I dedicated it to my grandfather’s memory, mentioning what he’d done. I sent a copy to my mother and waited for her to call me to thank me for doing that.

    The call never came.

    I thought the book must have been delayed in the post and she just hadn’t seen it. When I talked to her the next week, I asked if the book had arrived and if she’d liked the dedication. She told me she’d seen it, but that she had no idea what I was talking about. She said that they never knew why my grandfather had been arrested, he’d never told anybody why, and so she had no idea why I would have written that he’d worked for an illegal newspaper.

    To say that I was shocked would have been an understatement. For a horrible two days, I wondered if I’d made it all up (which was of course possible).

    Then I spoke to my father, who at first had loathed to disagree with my mother but at last admitted that he knew about the newspaper too. As did my brother. By this stage, my mother was getting quite upset: if everybody knew, then why didn’t she? We were talking about her father, telling her things that she, as his child, had never been told.

    She didn’t believe us.

    Finally, she picked up the phone to her cousin, who was a decade older than her. During the war, my mother had only been a child but her cousin had been eighteen when the war ended and far more aware of what was happening. The cousin confirmed that yes, this was what my grandfather had been doing and yes, this was why they had arrested him.

    My mother is left with the question of why she was the only person in the family who didn’t know this ‘secret’. All we could think of was that after it happened, when my grandfather first returned after a year, it was too horrifying for him to talk about it, but when the grandchildren arrived he could tell it as an exciting heroic story of survival. A therapist friend of mine suggested another answer: my mother had been in the house when my grandfather was arrested and for her it might have been so traumatic that she repressed that memory and everything to do with it. Yup, amnesia.

    I think my mother is happy that she now knows, especially as her cousin died a month after this all happened. Still, it’s tinged with sadness that it’s too late to have asked her father about it.

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      I am racking my brain to think of a Theme of the Month this can be submitted to. It was beautiful. I loved reading it so much.

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        There should be a Theme of theme Month titled, “That [trope] happened to me!” I’m sure most of these soon to be posted stories would make it.

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      This is fascinating, and very makjang if indeed your mother had selective amnesia!!!
      May I ask what country are you from?

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        I’m from the Netherlands.

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          Ah. I figured somewhere round there.
          Maxing that he made it back home.

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            How he made it back home is another truly amazing story. In fact, so weird that I didn’t believe it and had to look up that this stuff had really happened.

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            A lot of those WWII stories are batshit crazy and I know several of them so I’m not surprised. Would love to hear it one day though!!!!
            (also what kind of bookses have thee written?)

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            It’s a very long story….

            And to answer your second question, I write crime fiction (but am currently working on a story where the OTP are a woman and her online friends)

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            @cloggie if u dont mind, can u share your book title please?

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      Wow. How interesting! Glad your mum is in a happy place now?

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      I can imagine a drama plot from your story. It is so beautiful.

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      It’s weird how selective amnesia really does happen to young children… Over the past several years I have found out many non secret facts about my family that I never knew. I think baby Cocoa was almost willfully oblivious? Like, my brother had childhood cancer. I found this out a couple of years ago and suddenly I recalled all the time I spent in hospital waiting rooms that I never questioned as a child.

      Hmm, maybe that will be my next makjang story.

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      Ohhhh that was nice! I’m glad you got to post it. I could see it as a drama with Mr. Sunshine kind of budget. I’d watch that.

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      That was a beautiful story, thanks for sharing Cloggie! What your grandfather did is incredible and this really sounds like it could be a drama.

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      I’m always so interested in WWII stories of bravery and survival. I can’t imagine what its like. So glad your grandfather made it out okay and that your mom now knows of what he did!

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      That’s truly amazing. So amnesia isn’t such an unbelievable trope after all. The stories out of war times are usually stranger and more harrowing than fiction. Thank you for sharing this!

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