>> sedikit cerita perjuangan Aron di tanah karo pada masa pendudukan
Jepang Agustus 1942.

The Japanese Experience in Indonesia: Selected Memoirs of 1942-1945
Book by Anthony Reid, Oki Akira, Jennifer Brewster, Jean Carruthers;
Center for International Studies, Ohio University

Suppressing the Aron Rebellion in East Sumatra

In the eyes of the Allies who reoccupied Sumatra In 1945, and of most
Indonesians in the area, Captain Inoue was the epitome of the
mysteriously powerful Japanese committed to mobilizing a dangerous
Indonesian terrorist force for obscure but sinister purposes. He is
the only representative in this book of those who chose to join their
former proteges among the Indonesian nationalists after the Japanese
surrender, rather than face arrest and possible execution by the Allies.

Inoue was born in Fukuoka, northern Kyushu, probably around 1910-12.
He studied at the Agricultural Faculty of Hokkaido Imperial
University, a school famous for inculcating a pioneering, ambitious
spirit. After graduation he went to Brazil, where he founded and led
for two years an agricultural training school for (Japanese migrant?)
farmers, in San Paulo. He returned to Japan in 1934 by way of a
lengthy tour in the ‘Southern Regions’, and established his own farm.
In 1937 he was conscripted into the army and sent to China on
Intelligence duties. With the outbreak of the Pacific War he appealed
directly to General Yamashita in Singapore to be allowed to go to
Indonesia to develop training Institutions for farmers.

Inoue arrived in Medan at about the same time as the Chokan, General
Nakashima, in August 1942, and immediately gained his confidence —
perhaps because he combined an unusually good education with a
dynamic, confident manner. For a time Inoue acted as Nakashima’s
secretary, in addition to being simultaneously police chief and
administrator of the key Deli-Serdang district. When he withdrew from
these functions in May 1943 to concentrate on his original idea of
developing an agricultural training school (Talapeta), he by no means
withdrew from the limelight. Readers of the Japanesecontrolled press
could have been in no doubt that his project was seen by its founder
and by Nakashima as the front line in implanting Japanese patriotic
ideals among the widest possible group of Indonesians.



( Tokyo, Kōdan-sha, 1953), pp. 50-80

From early in the morning I was busy writing my memoirs in my ‘palace’
[jungle hideout], having changed my routine in response to a request
which Abdi had brought me from Murni [Chadidjah].

Living in hiding in the jungle I naturally had no desk, but I managed
to write by sitting on the ground between the entrance and the sunken
hearth, and facing the bed. This position made the height of the
bamboo matting bed just right for writing, which I did by the light of
a lamp. While I told myself that my motive in writing was simply to
fulfil Murni’s request, and that one never knows where or when one’s
end will come, in reality her request reinforced what I had been
wanting to do myself. I had been thinking already about writing a
memoir to give to some reliable Indonesian.
Before and After the Aron

A night in early August 1942. The setting is the official residence of
the Shu Chokan [Resident] of East Sumatra, Jalan Sukamulia, Medan. It
was an unusually sultry night, and I was having difficulty in
sleeping. Shortly after the cuckoo clock struck 1 a.m., I was suddenly
roused by the insistent ringing of the telephone.

‘Hallo. Hallo. Rumah Gouverneur disitu? (Hello. Hello. Is that the
Chokan’s residence?).’ The voice of the Indonesian on the telephone
seemed very agitated. Moreover I was aware of some commotion in the
background behind the speaker, and guessed that something must have

‘Ah, Tuan Keimubocho * is it? This is the switchboard at the Arnhemia
Police Station. I will convey an emergency report from the
Fuku-bunshucho [Sub-district head], Tashiro:

Arnhem. 6 August. 1 a.m.

Report of Fuku-bunshucho Tashiro of Upper Deli. Some members of
the aron * from the region around Arnhemia, who have been staging
demonstrations to demand the unconditional release of farmers detained
on the charge of illegal cultivation, suddenly launched as assault on
the police office here at 12.30 a.m. Casualties so far confirmed: on
the aron side, two dead, five seriously wounded, an unknown number of
minor injuries; on the police side, two seriously wounded, two
slightly injured. After trying to placate the aron insurgents, I am
now with the leaders . . .

The telephone was suddenly disconnected at that point, and I could get
no response thereafter, even though I called back repeatedly. While I
was wondering what had happened, the telephone rang again. It was from
Lt. H., head of the Medan Kempeitai.

‘We have received a report from the police in Arnhemia . . . Ah, you
know about it already. The Kempeitai here is preparing the immediate
dispatch of a squad commanded by a certain sergeant-major. What is the
view of the Gunseibu on this?’

‘Ah, yes,’ I replied. ‘Thank you very much for your trouble. When we
received the report this morning, we planned to deal with the aron
incident ourselves. However, since our police forces are inadequate
and you have already begun preparing a force, we would like you to
settle the incident however you wish, though I am sorry to ask it of
you. I must stress that the Gunseibu still adheres to the policy that
a peaceful solution must be found to the aron problem, and that you
should bear this in mind at all times.’

I put down the telephone, went out of the room and awoke Chokan N
[Nakashima], who was asleep in his room directly opposite mine. I
briefly reported the sequence of events. The Chokan looked troubled
and pondered for some time. Then he abruptly told me to call up the
Divisional Chief of Staff. When I had got the Chief of Staff on the
phone, the Chokan outlined the Arnhemia developments to him. The Chief
of Staff must have been giving his opinion, to judge from the Chokan’s
responses – ‘It would be good if you could do that . . . I am most
appreciative . . . Thank you very much.’

The Karo Batak word aron normally refers to a group of villagers who
harvest collectively, moving through the fields of each in turn. It
was the only term by which the 1942 movement among Karos to cultivate
estate land illegally was known.

However, the conversation ended with the Chokan saying, ‘In any
event, please leave the matter in our hands for a while longer. If we
reach a deadlock, we will certainly call on your ample military
forces.’ He hung up and went back to his bedroom, saying to me, ‘I
want to think this over lying down. Let me know if there are any
important developments.’

I waited for the next developments, but no further reports came in
from either the Kempeitai or the police. Thinking that the disturbance
must have been put down, I began to relax and fell asleep. Before I
knew it, it was dawn. Feeling heavy in the head, I gulped down a
strong cup of coffee, and as usual I got to the Seicho [Residency
Administration] office before the Chokan. At the time, I was holding
three positions at once: in the morning I was Shu Keimubucho [Head of
the Residency Police], working in the police section of the Seicho; in
the afternoon I was Bunshucho [equivalent to Dutch AssistantResident]
of Deli-Serdang, working in the office assigned to that post; and all
the time I was secretary to the Chokan, whether I was in the Seicho or
the Deli-Serdang office.

Immediately, I contacted the Fuku-bunshucho and the Chief of Police at
Arnhemia by phone. I was told, ‘The casualties are the same as have
been reported already. The aron rioters, who had been insisting on the
release of the detainees, were persuaded to withdraw temporarily by
the kempei who came to help, leaving the question of the aron movement
unresolved. The Arnhemia area appears to have now returned to normal.
As Fuku-bunshucho I consider we had better release the detainees. What
do you think?’

I ended the conversation by instructing, ‘Don’t be in too great a
hurry. Watch the movements of the aron closely from all angles, and at
the same time take all precautions against another possible attack by
the aron.’

While I was still thinking over possible means of settling the
problem, the bell suddenly rang above my head. The indicator showed
that it was the Chokan’s room. I went quickly up to this room on the
second floor where I found Flora, a blue-eyed maid attached to the
Seicho, who said, ‘His Excellency is waiting for you in the secret
meeting room.’ The Chokan told me, ‘On my way here to assume my post
as fourth Shibucho [head] of the East Sumatra branch of the Military
Administration and first Shu Chokan * of the region, I talked over
many things with the [25th] Army Commander. The thing he emphasized
most was: “Uprisings caused by the aron secret society are a cancer in
the law and order situation in North Sumatra. The situation has now
reached a critical point. I must ask you to make a special effort to
solve the problem.”

‘As you well know, after the Kempeitai confessed itself beaten by this
problem, the civil administration of East Sumatra, from the time of
the first Shibucho to myself, the fourth, has tried every method and
every combination of people that might reasonably be expected to prove
effective in solving this problem. Unfortunately, we have still not
found even the glimmer of a solution. Meanwhile, as we can see from
the incident last night, the aron are becoming more and more violent.
Moreover, the same trend is spreading with every passing day into
Tanah Karo and Upper Serdang. * As Chokan I am extremely worried by
the situation. Last night the Divisional Chief of Staff recommended
that I mobilize his units to provide a military solution. Since I am
basically a military man myself, I am tempted to use such methods.
However, not only would it leave an indelible stain on the history of
our military administration, but it might also prove a serious source
of political trouble in the future.’

‘I thoroughly agree with you,’ I replied.

‘Right. Well then, I am going to have one last try, win or lose, at a
political solution. I have neither a clear plan nor any real
confidence of success. I have thought about it a great deal since last
night, and reached the conclusion that I must pin all my hopes on you
this time. I feel there is no alternative but to entrust both the
planning and implementation of a solution to you. Do you think you
could do it?’ The old Shogun repeated, ‘How about it? Will you do it
for me?’

At the time I had no more idea how to pacify the aron movement than
the Chokan did, and no more confidence that it could be done.
Nevertheless, I immediately answered, ‘I will do my best to live up to
your expectations.’ Inwardly I came to the simple conclusion that I
would be prepared to the for this Chokan, and would atone with my life
in the event that I failed. That very afternoon I received my official

East Sumatra Policy No. 1. Operation Order to Captain Inoue
Tetsuro of the Army:

You are to proceed to Upper Deli district as quickly as possible,
and to bring about a settlement of the aron incident. Fuku-bunshucho
Tashiro of Arnhemia will be ready to provide immediate support to you
in any emergency.

After dinner [on August 6] I managed to escape from the Chokan, as he
seemed about to begin his customary eulogy of Bismarck. Back in my own
room I leafed through a thick file of documents on the aron which I
had brought from the Seicho. I hoped that the sources on the history
of the movement would provide a basis for developing an appropriate
policy. The following Kempeitai report was the first document to draw
my attention. *

. . . During the disturbed time when the Japanese were landing in
Sumatra, one or two members of the Fujiyama [i.e. Fujiwara] Kikan
made propaganda among the people, especially those of Upper Deli
(Batak and Karo people) # hoping to win their favour. They told them,
‘When the Japanese come, the native chiefs will be thrown out, and you
can own whatever land you like.’ The people believed them and expected
to have their hopes realized, but a month after the Japanese landing
the native chiefs still held power and the people had to obey the
existing land laws. They became increasingly dissatisfied with the
Japanese military administration. It was only to be expected that
ambitious leaders of political parties would realize the opportunity
presented by the frame of mind of these ignorant people and
distort the rash promises of the Fujiyama Kikan members to mean the
Japanese Army’s recognition of their demands. They instigated innocent
people to cultivate land illegally and to become members of the aron
secret society. Then, native leaders such as the Dai-soncho and
Chu-soncho, * and their retainers, were frequently assassinated,
injured, robbed and assaulted. If possible, they tried to cut down the
chiefs and replace them; or failing this, they aimed to strengthen
their own power by such actions.

. . . The aron problem was created by the land problem. As long as
the authorities maintained the existing one-sided land law which was
based on a secret contract between the traditional aristocrats and the
Dutch planters, the prospect of a return of public order in Upper Deli
was unlikely . . .

I also found the following in a written report by the Fuku-bunshucho
of Arnhemia:
1. The major incidents caused by the aron in June (leaving aside the
question of illegal cultivation):
3 June The Soncho of Sumba [Sembahe?] was
[ 1942] killed.
5 June The banana plantation of the Soncho of
Tangkahan was seized.
8 June The Dai-soncho [Datuk] of Gunung Mulia
[Suka Mulia?] was terrorized.
14 June The Soncho of Sibolangit and his wife
were both killed.
20 June The house of the Soncho of Lau Cih was
plundered and burned.
25 June The wife and children of the Soncho of
Namo Mungkuru [Namokamura?] were
27 June Twenty pigs belonging to the Soncho of
Puneng [Penungkiren?] were stolen.
2. Initiation procedures for the aron and number of aron members by
the end of June:

New members had to bring a white chicken to the aron leader. Its neck
was wrung, and all drank the blood. Uncooked rice was put in front of
the new member, who had to swear his loyalty to the aron and promise
secrecy. Then the new member had to insert the grains of rice sideways
into his mouth one by one, and swallow them.

There appear to be about 15,000 members of the aron initiated in this way.
3. Attitude of the general population towards the aron:

The clever concealment and strange doings of the aron had brought it a
series of successes, but the majority of the population were as
terrified of the aron as they were of phantoms and ghosts, and after 6
p.m. everyone shut their doors and dared not put a foot outside.
The next report to attract my attention was written by Police
Superintendent Arifin, * who was at the time my righthand man in the
Police Affairs Department (he was a notable figure in the native
chiefs’ group and a relative of the raja of Serdang).

. . . Based on the above observations and many reports from spies,
I venture the following opinion on the question, ‘Who are the leaders
of the aron?’

1. The top leader is Iwan Siregar, chairman of the Gerindo party in
East Sumatra during the Dutch period.
2. Although the role of Suleiman, * vice-chairman of Gerindo, in
the aron movement is not clear, there is no doubt of his important role.
3. The remaining leaders of the aron all live in Upper Deli and are
followers of Iwan Siregar. Kitei Karo-Karo, Gumba Karo-Karo, Hussein
Surbakti and Keras Tarigan are prominent.

Although there were a variety of other reports and opinions about the
aron, I thought it unnecessary to check all of them. Right at the end,
however, I came across some which looked like petitions. When I read
them I found they were all from nobles connected with the Sultan of
Deli, with the titles Tengku and Datuk. # Every petition complained,
‘Because of the influence of the aron we cannot attend the office and
therefore we cannot collect taxes. We beg that it be suppressed as
quickly as possible.’

After checking through the aron file, I went out on the balcony in
search of the fresh night air of the tropics, and to ponder the
question how to fulfil the Chokan’s expectations and shoulder the
burden of pacifying the aron.

By the morning of the following day [7 August] I was already busy with
important preparatory measures for the Upper Deli business. While
carrying out the suppression of the aron in the area, to ensure that
my work would not meet any uncalled-for obstacles and that the people
of the area would not be influenced, I arrested those regarded as
influential among the local leaders, as well as the mysterious Iwan [
Siregar]. To begin with I managed to assemble tactfully about 60
popular leaders at the Seicho, of whom 40 were allowed to go home with
a warning, while the other 20, whom I sensed might be important, were
detained there. Next I had to deal with Iwan Siregar. With the secret
consent of the Chokan, I drove out without using a chauffeur or
wearing a military uniform. I expected Iwan Siregar, who was at that
time an adviser to the mayor of Medan, * to be at home because it was
the time of the siesta. When I got out of the car and knocked at the
door, a tall slim woman, who had the look of a Eurasian, came out. In
answer to my enquiry whether her husband was at home, she replied, as
expected, that he was sleeping. ‘I am the Keimubucho of this
Residency,’ I said. ‘I have come here by order of the Chokan to
collect your husband. Please tell him to get ready immediately’.

The woman frowned slightly, but walked into the back of the house
calmly, saying, ‘is that so? Just a moment, please.’

Iwan, who soon emerged, was an extremely ugly man, quite the opposite
of his beautiful wife. He had frizzy hair like a Papuan, large bulging
eyes, thick lips and a black face. He was dressed simply, and clutched
a shabby hat. On seeing me he bowed and murmured something, but his
words were inaudible, perhaps because he was anticipating the worst. I
put Iwan in the back seat of the car, and as I grasped the handle I
said to his wife, ‘Sorry to have disturbed you.’ She answered,
‘Selamat jalan (Take care), I and forced a smile, but her face was

In no time I was at the gate of Medan’s second prison. I summoned the
director and explained the circumstances to him. Then, saying, ‘It’ll
probably be dull, but be patient,’ I drove off, leaving the bemused
Iwan there.

Back at the Seicho office, I gave a brief report of this to the
Chokan. Then a sudden thought occurred to me and I called
Superintendent Arifin to my office. ‘ Arifin, I’ll come to the point
at once,’ I said. ‘I have locked up Iwan in the Second Prison.’

‘Really? You’ve got Iwan at last! Bagus tuan, bagus tuan (Well done,
well done, air).’ Arifin’s oily features expressed astonishment.

‘I have something I want to say to you – that it will be the Suebo
(myself) who is in charge of Iwan while he is in prison. In other
words, nobody except myself is allowed to intervene in any matter
whatsoever concerning Iwan. Is that clear?’

‘Yes,’ he replied. I am going to leave the office at about 9 p.m. and
make a house search at Iwan’s. You may come with no.’

‘Yes, I will be there,’ answered Arifin cheerfully. In contrast to
him, I could only feel gloom.

When Arifin and I knocked at the door of Iwan’s house at 9 p.m. that
night, the lights were off, perhaps as a deterrent to us. A woman in a
long nightgown came out from the back, holding a candle in her hand,
her hair still damp from being washed. It was the same woman I had met
earlier. I apologized for disturbing her at night, and explained
politely the purpose of our visit. This time she reacted very calmly
to my visit and said, ‘Please feel free to search anywhere.’ She held
the candle to guide us to Iwan’s study.

Superintendent Arifin, like a hunting dog showing the way to his
master, began to pull out drawers and search energetically through
documents. However, the woman appeared completely unperturbed. I lost
interest when I realized that there could not be any important
documents left as long as a woman like this was in charge of the
house. I asked her, ‘What were the aims of the Gerindo party which you
led during the Dutch period?’

‘The annihilation of the Dutch Government! The expulsion of the
Dutchi! was her bold reply.

‘Well, why weren’t you exiled to Boven Digul, then?’ I teased her.

She sailed and replied quickly, ‘Because the manifesto of Gerindo
stated that the aim of the party was the improvement of the living
standards of the Indonesian people.’ When she smiled she was extremely

Arifin reappeared carrying a bulging bag and reported that he had
finished the search. His oily features were puffed with triumph. What
a disgusting fellow!

I said, ‘Well, ma’am, I am very sorry to have troubled you. You need
have no misgivings on this question, as we have found nothing
suspicious in our search. Although I say so from my own personal
feelings, the Chokan is particularly concerned about you over this
business, and has telephoned the mayor of Medan to order that Iwan’s
salary be paid as usual. Furthermore, I intend to take personal care
of your husband while he is in prison in the matter of meals,
entertainment and so on. Please don’t worry on account of these matters.’

The woman, who had been standing erect like a statue, suddenly
collapsed on the floor and burst into tears. Feeling that clumsy
attempts at consolation would be out of place, I beckoned Arifin, and
we quietly left the house.
The next day or the day after, I was hard at work on the preparations
for my departure. I was impatient because my orders had stated ‘as
early as possible’, but day after day my departure was delayed by all
the things to be prepared studying the itinerary, selecting the
attendants, communicating with the relevant local rulers, contacting
the families of the detainees, and procuring the necessary supplies
such as medicine, cakes and provisions.

It was about noon when the Eurasian maidservant Elly came into my
office with a namecard which read, ‘Hurni Iwan Siregar’. * I said,
‘Please show her in, and call the interpreter, Yoshida.’

The woman who was shown in by Elly a moment later was without doubt
Iwan’s wife. But today she was dressed magnificently in pure
Indonesian style. Her choice of kebaya and sarong bespoke her highly
cultivated personality, and hinted at hidden depths. She had probably
been expecting to talk to me in English, as she was carrying a small
DutchEnglish dictionary. However, we did not have long to wait before
the interpreter arrived.

She began, ‘I think you are fully aware of the important role my
husband played as one of the top leaders of the F [Kikan] when the
Japanese landed in Sumatra, and what great service he has since
rendered to the Kempeitai and to the Medan municipality. Iwan is of
course anti-Sultanate, but sensible enough to know that he cannot
eliminate the authority of the sultans through reckless measures like
those of the aron. Iwan is indeed the “father” of the people of Upper
Deli, but certainly not a leader of the aron. I came here today to ask
a favour of you on these grounds. I beg you – please find a way to
release Iwan.’

‘Your husband’s arrest was based on purely political requirements,’ I
replied, ‘as declared by the Chokan himself. His arrest has nothing at
all to do with his being a leader of the aron. I should like to tell
you in confidence that although we have gathered all sorts of evidence
relating to the relations between Iwan and the aron, there is nothing
that proves any definite involvement. Thus we must ask both you and
your husband to be patient with us until the “political requirements”
no longer apply.’

Murni cried, ‘Oh, poor Iwan! That he should be so rewarded for serving
the Japanese Army at the risk of his life! I came to you, trusting in
your competence as Keimubucho. I beg you – release him and pardon him.’

‘No,’ I replied, ‘whatever you say, this matter lies outside my
jurisdiction, and there is nothing I can do. I should like you to
accept this and go home.’ Her face became wet with tears as I spoke. I
decided to say no more. After a long silence, she apologized for
having taken my time, and despondently took her leave.

However, she was back at my office the following day. She appealed,
‘Isn’t there some way you could get Iwan released. I don’t mind how
you manage it – even in the form of huis arrestatie.’

‘I am terribly sorry, but as I told you yesterday, it is beyond my
competence, and there is nothing I can do.’

She suddenly began to show some spirit. ‘Well then, could you please
introduce me to the Chokan. I would like to appeal to him directly.’

‘No,’ I replied. ‘it would be pointless, at least as long as the
“political requirements” remain.’

‘Well then, when will the “political requirements” no longer apply?’

‘That depends for one thing on the progress of the aron affair,’ I
replied. ‘I am planning to go there myself in two or three days’ time.’

‘In order to subjugate the aron?’

‘You may suppose what you like.’

‘I am sorry to have to say it, I she said, ‘but have you even begun to
understand Indonesian politics? If you are really hoping to solve the
aron problem, you must definitely release Iwan at once.’

‘No,’ I replied, ‘I have quite the opposite opinion.’

Again an awkward silence hung between us. Abruptly she broke it. ‘Are
you aware that many members of the party are ready to swing into
action in that district as soon as I give the word?’

I reacted angrily. ‘Be careful what you say! I am not foolish enough
to arrest a woman like you. If you are planning to obstruct my work –
fine! You give any orders you want. Let us see which of us will
prevail. However, by way of warning, I want to make it clear to you
that if you make out to be a defender of the people, I will appear
before the people of Upper Deli with much more sincerity than you.’

Breakdown! The charged atmosphere eventually forced her to withdraw. I
felt that the situation was becoming more difficult.

On the evening of 10 August, I was talking with the Chokan over a cup
of tea after dinner. I announced, 11 want to leave tomorrow, since
everything is ready at last.’

‘Really? You have a very difficult task this time. I hope you will do
your best. How long are you planning to be there?’

‘If it all goes smoothly, I should be back in two weeks.’

‘Ah yes,’ he said. ‘Well then, I an going to appear an old fuss-pot,
but I think you should take at least one squad of soldiers. You are
venturing into a remote area of which even the Kempei are afraid. If
you want I will ring the Divisional Chief of Staff and ask . . .’

‘Thanks very much,’ I replied, ‘but I am hoping if at all possible to
avoid anything that will provoke the people, so I am restricting my
party to two interpreters.’

‘You may feel it’s all right, but I still feel uneasy,’ he said.

‘Ha . . .’

The Chokan continued, ‘How about cracking a bottle of Bordeaux to
celebrate your departure?’

‘No thanks,’ I said, ‘I still have a few things left to do tonight.’

Back in my room, I went straight to my desk and took up my pen. I
wrote two letters, put them in envelopes, and addressed them. On both
I wrote ‘testament’ in red down the side. One was to the Chokan and
the other to my family in Japan.

With this, my preparations for departure were complete. Just as I
began to relax, the servant Tjokro suddenly appeared and said, ‘Dari,
Chokan kakka (From the Chokanll. He handed me a bundle of bottles of
sherry, on which I found a handwritten note, ‘I pray for your success.
Memoir on the Suppression of the Aran in Upper Deli
11 August

At 10 a.m. all the members of my pacification team gathered at the
residence of the Fuku-bunshucho in Arnhemia, the capital of Upper
Deli, about 17 kilometres south of Medan. The team consisted of 44
persons in all – myself, interpreter F (Indonesian language),
interpreter S (Karo language), Teguh (a Karo Batak sawah [wet-rice]
expert) as guide, ten Indonesian policemen whom the Chokan had forced
on me as a guard, and 30 coolies (for the transport of provisions,
cakes and medicines). In addition, we had a horse called Marco for me
(an AngloNorman breed), and two horses (Batak breed) for the
interpreters. Before we set out, I instructed the following order of
march (with the head at the left):

police guide me F superin police coolies S police

At 11 a.m. the big square of Arnhomia, the first place to be
pacified, was packed with Karo people, milling around the assembly
hall roofed with ijo [rice straw]. Teguh, who had a reputation as a
humorous speaker, gave an eloquent opening address in Karo, after
which it was my turn to address the crowd. As I had to use the
interpreter, and the translation was far from smooth, I became
irritated, though there was nothing to be done about it. I made an
effort to control my seething emotions, and proceeded sentence by
sentence, very clearly. in reality the speech presented no problems,
as all I had to do was to state honestly that the Japanese were giving
serious consideration to improvements in the peoples’ welfare,
particularly in the area of agricultural land.

In response to my speech, various members of the audience raised their
hands. I listened patiently to each appeal, to each lament, and to
each entreaty:

‘Give us more ladang [unirrigated land].’

‘Let us prepare more sawah [wet-rice] fields.’

‘Allow us to cultivate palawija [secondary crops] if we wish.’ *

‘Increase the distribution of garam [salt].’

I answered those demands I could; the rest had to be content with
promises that we would do our best, giving our decision at a later
date. I do not know why, but after we had spoken, many members of the
aron who were there opted openly to leave the aron, and came forward
to ask for a ryominsho [certificate of good citizenship]. The number
of converts was about 60. At this unexpected victory the members of
our pacification team began to relax. Even the policemen began to
smile, though they had been tense with strain up to that point. There
is nothing so pleasant as to be touched by the goodwill of a fellow
human being.

Our trial run in Arnhomia had been most satisfactory. The next
destination for our pacification team was Namo Rambei village in
Serbanyanan district [urung]. Traversing hills and swiftly flowing
streams, with the Hi-no-maru flag above us, the team advanced in high

We arrived at the village of Namo Rambei at 5 p.m. and decided to
spend the night at the house of the village head, in preparation for
our pacification campaign the following morning. The elderly village
head and his wife, both formally dressed, came and sat down near the
hearth in front of me in order to pay their respects. The old woman
first offered me sirih (a quid made up of betel leaf, tobacco, lime,
areca nut and gambir). Then offerings of rice, fruit, chicken and so
on were brought out and arranged before me. These rituals signified
the highest respect according to Karo custom.

Then the old village head came forward on his knees, and began slowly.
‘Welcome. I am really glad to see you. Last night I had a strange
dream. As my ladang field had turned golden, my wife and I set off for
the harvest. When we reached the ladang we were astonished to find a
crowd of aron people already there, busily harvesting. I was furious
and began to upbraid them without thinking. They rushed upon me and
beat me up, and finally they tied both my wife and myself to coconut
trees in a corner of the ladang. Before long the aron people were off,
carrying their bundles of harvested paddy. I was so upset I could not
stop myself from weeping. Suddenly a tuan besar (chief), dressed in a
red mantle and riding a white horse, appeared from somewhere and
quietly released us both. He opened the palm of my hand and put
something in it, then promptly disappeared. After consulting my wife I
fearfully opened my hand, and what was our surprise to find a shining
gold ring set with precious jewels, the like of which we had never
seen before . . .

‘A strange dream indeed! We talked it over and decided that the dream
must be a good omen. And just then you arrived unexpectedly. My heart
is full of joy.’

The old village head spluttered over this speech as if he were being
overcome by smoke from the fireplace. His wife nodded agreement. ‘You
are most welcome with us. The villagers too will be very pleased.’

I replied, ‘Well, I feel that our visit to this village will be very
rewarding. Your account of your dream is most interesting. I will
write it down in my notebook before I forget it.’

The dinner menu that evening was newly harvested red rice, chicken in
Karo style, fried carp, banana and papaya. After dinner I summoned
about ten local dignitaries and talked with them around the fireplace.
Their demands were similar to those of the Arnhemia people the day
before – a minimum allocation of 6,000 square metres of ladang* for
each married couple. The discussion ended at 2 a.m., but those
present did not go home for fear of the aron, spending the night
instead in nearby houses.
12 August

At 8 a.m. we began our pacification campaign in the village square of
Namo Rambei, where about 500 villagers were gathered. We followed the
same procedure as the day before. Thirty-five people came forward to
renounce their affiliation with the aron. We gave candies to the
children, and continued to offer free medical treatment to the new
converts. This was highly appreciated. The major complaints were
asthma, malaria, malnutrition, beriberi, trachoma, bonggol (growths on
the neck), framboesia (tropical boils), ringworm and scabies.

At 11 a.m. we left the village to shouts of farewell from the village
head and the other villagers – ‘Horas [Long life]!’ ‘Mejuwah-juwah!’†
Although the path climbed ever more steeply, we felt even more
invigorated. It was pleasant for me to see the big Hi-no-maru flag as
I rode along on Marco. Fields newly opened by the aron could be seen
here and there on the steep slopes on both sides of the path. In some
of the fields peasants were already harvesting their first crops. I
spoke to one of them, an honest-looking fellow, ‘How did you get this

He replied, ‘ Iwan Siregar gave it to me.’

‘What is that man to you?’ I asked. Is he a pemimpin (leader) of the

‘Yes. He is our bapak (father),’ was the reply.

‘Is the rice ripening well?’

‘Because the villagers did not all plant rice at the same time, we
have had serious damage from birds.’

‘Are you also a member of the aron?’ I asked.

‘Well,’ he replied, ‘if I refused, I would be killed.’

At about 3 p.m. we arrived at Namo Ukuru [Namourat?] village, the
place for our third campaign. The Dai-soncho and notables from
neighbouring areas warmly greeted us in the village square. Women in
formal dress, who had been waiting for us, began scattering rice
grains in time with the shouts of ‘Horas! Horas!’ Then the Dai-soncho
and some other notables, with their wives, respectfully lined up in a
row facing us. Shortly, a very slow melody, similar to the charamela
* began, quiet and beautiful, and played on hand drum, gong and
pipes. Pii . . . hyuru, hyuru, hyuru, pii hyuru, pii hyuru, pii . . .
Boon pokopoko pokopoko, pii . . . The tone of the music reminded me
somewhat of the Japanese Okagurabayashi [ceremonial music offered to
spirits and gods].

Their hands and heads were slowly moving, but the legs and body were
almost still except when leaning left or right. As they danced, their
eyes were always downcast. At each beat of the gong they bent their
knees, and bowed at the waist as if saluting. It was truly an elegant
and meaningful dance, and I was entirely absorbed in watching it.
Teguh advised me, ‘Please join the dance, tuan, just doing what the
others do. otherwise you infringe Karo custom.’ I was thus compelled
to dance, following the moves of the Dai-soncho in front of me, even
though I was in military uniform. The audience burst out clapping. At
the last beat of the gong they stopped dancing and quietly withdrew,
saluting me by joining their hands together.

After ceremoniously receiving the usual sirih and presents, we began a
propaganda campaign according to our previous formula. About 1500
villagers attended, of whom 30 proposed to leave the aron. The
propaganda rally was concluded, and we later attended a dinner at the
Dai-soncho’s. The meeting with local elders proceeded in the same way
as before, without any notable petitions except a strong complaint
against the tyranny of the aron.
13 August

At 8 a.m., with the hearty farewells of the Dai-soncho and villagers
ringing in our ears, we left Namo Ukuru for our fourth destination,
Gunung Mulia. The path became steeper, and the swift streams and
cliffs we encountered caused great trouble to the horses and team
members. When we had marched eight kilometres or so, we suddenly heard
behind us a call to stop. It came from a Karo messenger, who had come
at speed on horseback. He turned out to have brought a letter from
Tashiro, Fuku-bunshucho of Arnhemia, warning us, ‘There is a plot to
murder you along the way. Please be careful.’ I replied through
interpreter F, ‘Many thanks for your warning. I am confident of
success, so please don’t worry.’

After two hours’ walk we reached a savannah of page page (a kind of
cogon grass), and saw a wooden bridge which was not particularly long
but lay across a deep valley. After taking in the bridge and its
surroundings, I spurred on my horse and caught up with Teguh who was
in front. I ordered him with my eyes to stop. Immediately
understanding the meaning of the sign, the guide ran back to alert the
police inspector. Soon seven of the guards took up a position beside
the bridge. They used their rifles first against the clump of page
page just across the bridge, then divided into two parties, one
comprising four and the other three riflemen, to fire at the page page
on the right and left side of the bridge respectively. The calmness of
the Serbanyaman plateau was abruptly shattered. Water fowl flew away
here and there, and monkeys began to gibber.

After the firing, the police inspector and eight of his men carefully
crossed the bridge one at a time. Once across, they re-formed and ran
into the page page. An examination proved, as expected, that the
bridge had been sabotaged so that it would collapse as soon as a
substantial weight was put on it. Consequently all the members of our
party, except a few like myself who were lightly dressed, had to take
a round-about route across the river. In the meantime the policemen
captured a half-witted looking young man. He must have stopped a
bullet in the firing just before. As his knee was bleeding, I ordered
through interpreter F that he be given first aid. After untying him
and giving him a cigarette, I began questioning.

‘Which is your village?’ ‘Lau Kerumat.’ ‘How many were there in
your band?’ ‘About ten.’ ‘Who is your leader and which village does he
belong to?’ ‘Paken of Gunung Mulia.’ ‘What were you trying to do
here?’ ‘First of all we were planning to kill tuan together with your
horse by making the bridge collapse, and then if possible kill other
members of your party with our parang [short swords].’

Although I was full of gloomy forebodings about this Paken’s village,
I ordered that we continue the march toward Gunung Mulia. Except for
putting our young captive at the head, we did not change our order of
march, and the Hi-no-maru flag still fluttered gaily above Teguh’s head.

We arrived at the entrance to Gunung Mulia after two hours’ difficult
march across steep slopes, dangerous cliffs and swift rivers. The
village was fortified with a bamboo fence.

— There was no movement; an unnatural stillness. ‘Suspicious,’ I
thought. In spite of my order to investigate the village, the
policemen were too frightened to move. ‘Follow me’, I said, and walked
into the village, only to find it an empty shell, occupied by
half-starved dogs and pigs running loose . . .

(As I had expected, we experienced several incidents there, the most
dangerous of which was an impending attack by the aron. It is a pity
that I cannot relate the details now. But the reader should understand
that my wisdom and courage, at the risk of my life, forestalled the
aron’s attack.)

I put a stop to the medical treatment of the sick as there seemed no
end to the demand. By the time I could relax, the pope [bird] had
already ceased its warbling and the mountain village was sinking into
the calm of an evening twilight. I thought it better to stay there the
night in order to accept aron converts, and if possible to talk with
the villagers, which seemed particularly necessary in that turbulent
village. However, because all the policemen and coolies were really
frightened of staying there and wanted only to leave the village as
quickly as possible, I had to commit us to a night march to our next
destination, Tanjung Beringin eight kilometres away.

Before we left the village, I summoned the local head of the aron,
Nichoh, and the Dai-soncho, and made them shake hands with each other.
I did not forget to give them this final message, ‘If we cooperate
with each other, you two and I, we can give the villagers all the
happiness they hope for. To this end I am planning to come here again,
by which time you must have begun to improve the living standard of
the villagers. I am sure you will not betray me. By the way, tell
Paken, the man who tried to kill me, when he comes back, that I am not
angry with him now, so he has no need to worry.’

It was already pitch dark when we left Gunung Mulia and entered a
forest path which crossed a ravine and river. Since the effectiveness
of the only light we had, a pine torch, was limited to the few people
walking at the head, the rest had to be very careful not to lose the
path and slide down the bank. There seemed to be terraces for growing
gambir (a liane plant). The air was full of woolly caterpillars
radiating a fluorescent light. This frightening, bewildering
atmosphere spurred on our party, which had fallen silent due to hunger
and fatigue.

Just as I began to feel the journey would never end, we suddenly heard
a noise in front of us. I could see some pine torches approaching, and
from the same direction a call, ‘Hoy, hoy,’ seemed to come. It was
evidently a hearty welcome arranged by the representatives of Tanjung
Beringin, which lay a few hundred metres ahead. The moon was rising
when, at 10 p.m., we reached the village. Music of the unique Karo
type began as if at a sign from the rising moon. Before we realized it
an elegant dance by older couples, similar to the one at Namo Ukuru,
had begun. When this dance had finished and various gifts had been
presented, music in quicker tempo began so the ‘girls and boys’ dance
could take place. The blazing fires and the dinner provided for the
policemen and coolies seemed to represent the warmth of the villagers’
welcome. What an enormous difference in atmosphere was created by the
eight kilometres’ distance! The aged village head roused me from my
reverie by asking if I would like some arak. The villagers went on
dancing until late at night.At 9 a.m. [on 14 August], we began our
propaganda campaign by the riverside. About 400 villagers attended.
There were no aron members. I praised before the villagers the good
administration of the old village head. (I shall abbreviate the
description of our subsequent campaign.)After finishing the
pacification campaign in the Serbanyaman district as described above,
I immediately left for the Duabelas [Kota] and Sukapiring districts.
Although the physical conditions for walking became much easier, I was
given no chance to relax because of a continuous string of incidents
arising from the aron’s obstructionist tactics. Some of these
incidents were very dramatic, but this is no place for all these
stories.Thus, my pacification tour came to an end after many incidents
and episodes. On my return to Medan I immediately wrote a report for
submission to the Chokan. I did not forget to attach my
recommendations in roughly the following form:
1. To deal with the population in all sincerity, and to implement
completely what has been promised.
2. To satisfy the most important of the popular demands:
a. Lease of 6,000 square metres of unirrigated [ladang] land for each
b. Complete freedom for growing palawija.
c. Permission for new sawah wherever this can be done without
disruption to the irrigation plans of the estates.
d. A tripling of the salt ration.
3. To establish an agricultural training centre in Arnhemia in order
to provide the people of Upper Deli with agricultural guidance in
every field.
4. To open an office within the Police Department in Medan for the
provision of ryominsho to converted aron members.

As a result of my report, the Chokan of East Sumatra forthwith
summoned a meeting consisting of four departmental chiefs – those of
General Affairs, Industry, Treasury and Police. Happily the meeting
decided to implement all my suggestions immediately. I was as excited
by the decision as if it affected me personally, and hurried to
Arnhemia by car, where I summoned the most influential village heads
of the region. When I told them the good news they went wild with joy,
shouting ‘Horas’.

It was decided that Jalil, a graduate of an agricultural school in
Java, would become head of the planned agricultural training centre in
Arnhemia, with his first concern to assist in the expansion of new
irrigated rice fields. Meanwhile, the number of aron converts coming
to the administration office increased considerably. As a result, the
area around the office became alive with Karo colour, and the staff
were kept busy issuing ryominsho. As a result, not only did murders
and assaults by the aron virtually cease, but so also did incendiarism
and robbery, although such minor incidents as illegal cultivation,
coercing labour, and stealing occasionally took place. The Upper Deli
region was gradually returning to peace. It was at this time that
people began saying, ‘We will follow whatever that tuan says.’

Suddenly, an unexpected event occurred which led to the total collapse
of the aron. One day at the beginning of October, as Bunshucho of
Deli-Serdang, I was studying a plan entitled ‘The Leasing of Estate
Land (approximately 180,000 hectares) formerly owned by Dutch tobacco
estates, to the population, with the aim of increasing food production
and preventing a repetition of the aron incident’, when I was
surprised by a telephone call from the newly appointed Fuku-bunshucho
of Arnhemia.

‘A short time ago a police corps led by Roti encountered men and women
of the aron (300 in total) who were cooperating to engage in illegal
cultivation near Ujung Labuhan, 15 kilometres east of Arnhemia. These
aron people are now interned in a bangsal [hut for drying tobacco
leaves] under police guard. What are your instructions?’

Intuitively I realized that the people in question had to be the core
of the aron. I told him that I would go there myself, and that the
status quo should be maintained by a strict watch. I then went
straight to the Chokan to receive his instructions. After thinking the
issue over for a while, the Chokan simply said, ‘Unfortunate as it is,
if some of the conspirators are found to be guilty of staging violent
resistance, both anti-military and anti-Japanese, they must be
punished on the spot as sacrifices for the sake of peace for the whole
of the population.’

As soon as I had completed preparations, I left for the spot at full
speed, accompanied by three non-commissioned officers – Sergeants O
and M and Corporal I, who were university graduates working in the
Seicho an members of a support team sent by the Division.

I found an indescribable, extraordinary scene when I arrived. In a
rice field, half of which had already been harvested, there was a big
nipa-roofed bangsal, into which were jammed armed people who had the
definite look of core leaders of the aron. A platoon of police
surrounded the bangsal at a distance, training their guns on the
buildng but trembling as they did so because of the extreme tension.
‘Very dangerous. A touch-and-go situation,’ I thought.

I went into the bangsal with the non-commissioned officers and
interpreter, taking no notice of Fuku-bunshucho M who was trying to
waylay me to say something. With the eyes of the aron members in the
bangsal upon me, I shouted in Karo, ‘Kundul kerina! (Sit down all of
you!).’ The aron people sat down obediently, and I ordered them
through the interpreter, ‘I will take charge of your parang until this
matter is settled.’ Before they knew what they were doing, the aron
members followed my order, disarming themselves with surprising
passivity. Consequently we soon had a truckful of parang.

Seizing the favourable moment when the aron became calm, I began to
talk. Although the content of my talk was much the same as on previous
occasions, it naturally took a long time because I gave it all the
energy and sincerity I could. When I had finished talking I ordered
the Fuku-bunshucho, the police chief and the interpreter to pick out
influential aron leaders and most wanted criminals. They brought
forward eight men from the 300 aron members there. Since three of
these eight men had been identified as known criminals, we were
obliged to handcuff them to take them to Medan. The other five had to
be sacrificed for the peace of the people of Upper Deli, for they
were, in the Chokan’s words, ‘manifestly guilty of staging violent
resistance and antimilitarism’. After meditating a while my mind was
made up. The non-commissioned officers made the preparations. The five
young men were forced to sit down a little apart, facing their 300
friends. Water was brought. Japanese swords glittered in the hands of
the non-commissioned officers . . .

‘Eih,’ shouted Corporal I suddenly, as if to harden himself against
pity. And ‘Yah,’ cried Sergeant O.

The several hundred ‘spectators’ – aron, police, locals had all
thought that we were bluffing, but retribution had been swift and
tragic, and the results were now spread out before their startled
eyes. Whether out of fear or sadness, all 300 of the aron members
threw themselves on the ground. Only the sobbing of women could be
heard from the silent bangsal. I allowed the people a reasonable time
to grieve, and then I addressed them quietly, drying my own tears:
‘The precious lives of these five young men have ben sacrificed in the
interest of the happiness of the people of Upper Deli, and to give
you an opportunity for self-examination. Now we must express our
unbounded gratitude to them. We must endeavour to give peace to their
spirits and to help their families. I beg you not to make their deaths
meaningless. Return once more to being good and diligent villagers. On
my sole responsibility I will take the risk of discharging all of you
and returning your parang. To you, the village head of Ujung Labuhan,
I present this money I have brought with me. As chief of this tragic
village, please use it to arrange a memorial service.’

I ordered the Fuku-bunshucho to investigate the circumstances of the
families of the victims and to work out ways to support them. After
praising the police chief, Roti, for his services I went back to
Medan, farewelled by the grief-stricken aron.

Within two days of this event, the news of the Ujung Labuhan affair
had spread all over Upper Deli through the unique communication system
of the Karo people, bringing real terror to the remaining aron. This
was the immediate reason for the complete collapse of the secret
society, the aron.

About a week had passed since the Ujung Labuhan affair. One day I was
having lunch with the Chokan at his official residence, when a servant
brought us a letter from Murni addressed to the Chokan. I said to him,
‘Here is a letter for you from Iwan’s wife. As it is written in
English, shall I read it for you?’ The letter read roughly as follows:

Your Excellency, Governor of East Sumatra,

Please forgive my writing to you like this. As you know better
than anybody, two months have already passed since my husband Iwan was
imprisoned in Medan. The ‘political necessities’ which required Iwan
to stay in prison, the excuse the Keimubucho [Inoue] once gave me,
seem not to have been removed in this time.

I should say that, as the family of the detainee, we have had no
difficulty mantaining ourselves, thanks to Your Excellency’s special
concern. I should like to express my sincere gratitude to you.

I have now a new problem, however, Your Excellency. It seems that
I am the type of woman who cannot be satisfied with merely making
salads, tatting lace, and looking after the garden. To be honest, I
want to have a worthwhile job. When my husband was at home, I used to
spend most of my time as his secretary or adviser rather than his
wife. Your Excellency may well understand how much the empty life of
these months has tortured me. Nobody could safely predict that I
would not go mad if I have to go on like this.

Please give me some worthwhile job – for my own development and
for the benefit of others. I should be very grateful if you could
kindly find something related either to the newspaper or the Seicho.

In anticipation of your reply, Murni.

‘What do you think of that?’ asked the Chokan.

‘How about the branch office of Domei Toushin [a Japanese news
agency]? She cannot be trusted altogether, though,’ I replied.

The Chokan commented, ‘Moreover, I hear that she is an extremely
beautiful woman. If she gets into trouble on the job we will not be
able to show our face to Iwan in prison.’

‘I agree with you. When we find her a job we had better get permission
from Iwan.’

‘How about employing her for a while, on a trial basis, in your office
in the Police Department? She shouldn’t give you any trouble.’

‘She doesn’t seem to like anything to do with the police, but I will
discuss it with her tomorrow,’ I answered.

Five days after this discussion between the Chokan and myself, Murni
was already at work in the office of the Police Department. She was
particularly good at Dutch, her English was fair, and her typewriting
was remarkable. To begin with I asked her to submit ‘a life history’
in order to test her typewriting ability and keep her from feeling bored.

She always came to the office in modest and purely Indonesian clothes,
spreading a heliotrope perfume around the room. She added colour to
the office, where there had previously been only the Eurasian servant
girl, Elly. I introduced her to Salmiah, who was working as a typist
in the Transportation Department, and who I thought might be a
companion for Hurni. They got on amazingly well together. Salmiah was
of noble birth – a daughter of the youngest brother of the Sultan of Deli.

Murni came to the office punctually every day and seemed to be typing
enthusiastically. In a few days she had completed her life story.
Life History of Murni (Outline)

Murnie was of Eurasian birth, from the union of D, the Dutch deputy
manager of a tobacco estate near Binjai in Langkat Bunshu, and a
Javanese woman Saniam. When she was about three years old, the
Dutchman D returned to Holland, leaving Saniam behind. Although D
tried to take the child with him, Saniam managed to prevent this by
her rigorous opposition. Consequently Murni was left in the hands of
Saniam. Later a Dutch businessman, H, happened to notice Murni’s
beauty and talent, and proposed bringing her up. Murni thus came to be
looked after by H; it was a happy time and she lacked for nothing.
Murni came to love H as if he were her real father. However, during
her first year at the MULO Girls’ School, H died suddenly in a tragic
car accident. Murni had to return to her mother’s house near Binjai,
but money for her education throughout high school had been guaranteed
by a verbal will H made to his relatives on his deathbed.

In the meantime, her mother Saniam had become intimate with a Javanese
man called Hassan. One day the mother said to Murni, hoping for her
agreement, ‘I am thinking of living with Hassan. How do you like the
idea?’ Murni at first opposed the plan because she did not like the
man at all and because she sensed that he had his eye on her education
fund. However, Murni had to agree in the end, out of sympathy for
Saniam’s lonely life, as she had been a widow for a long time. Hassan
came to live in the house, but as Murni had surmised, he lived an idle
life. Belongings which represented her mother’s savings were sold one
by one. As the atmosphere at home was unpleasant, Murni tried to come
home as late as possible each day, and also began to devote herself to
music. She had musical talent and soon became popular among her
classmates. They began to refer to her as ‘Nightingale’ or ‘Nuri’
(Parrot), nicknames which derived from her unusually beautiful voice.

After turning all the mother’s property into cash and cunningly
misappropriating Murni’s education fund, Hassan at last ran away.
Although the mother wailed about it, nothing could be done. Saniam was
forced to earn money to support herself and her daughter and to
provide for the latter’s education, but her earnings were far from
sufficient. Thus, Murni too had to work occasionally a a typist for a
Dutch company when she could spare the time from her studies. Through
her contacts with the Dutch and the many things she witnessed, Murni,
as a sensitive girl, gradually inclined towards an anti-Dutch attitude.

Murni had jut managed to graduate from the MULO Girls’ School in this
way, when she by chance became acquainted with a young man called Iwan
Siregar, who lived near her place. Iwan was tall and well built, but
he had a sour face. Though Iwan’s father was the richest man in his
district, Iwan was then living on his own as a result of a sharp
difference of opinion between them. He did not seem to have any
regular job but was always busy studying, surrounded by piles of
books. After finding that Murni and her mother were living in poverty,
he began to provide them with financial support whenever the
opportunity arose.

Through this association with Iwan, Murni was attracted to him on two
grounds in particular. Firstly, Iwan was not only very knowledgeable –
especially in politics, sociology and psychology – but was also deeply
concerned about the rights of Indonesians and Indonesia’s manifest
destiny, putting these questions in an admirable perspective.
Secondly, he was quite different from most young men who curried the
favour of pretty girls and posed self-consciously in front of them. He
was older than Murni by only five or six years, but he behaved as
though he were her father or teacher and gave her lectures on
practical sociology.

This friendship eventually led the two to marriage. The annoncement of
their marriage surprised and disappointed many Dutch and Indonesian
men who had been attracted by Murni’s beauty and talent. After the
marriage, Iwan was made head of the Gerindo party in the East Coast of
Sumatra, and became involved in underground anti-Dutch activities.
Murni, though a woman, supported Iwan by becoming leader of the Binjai
branch of the party. The result of their activities inevitably
manifested itself in relentless pressure upon them from both the Dutch
and the sultan’s party. They therefore had to face continuous

When Japan began the total attack on Singapore in 1942, Iwan realized,
through secretly listening to radio broadcasts from Malaya, that a
Japanese landing in Sumatra was imminent. He immediately dispatched a
mission to Penang and succeeded in contacting the Japanese Fujiyama
Kikan. * Then he initiated underground activity by the name of the ‘F
Movement’ throughout East Sumatra, aiming to support the expected
Japanese landing. After this landing took place, he helped the
Japanese Kempeitai in Medan considerably by finding Dutch troop
remnants, enemy elements and hidden arms, by making propaganda, and by
providing information. This was the time when Murni travelled about
giving singing performances to solace the Japanese soldiers.

In the ton days since Hurni had submitted her life history, she had
come not only to handle difficult Police Department work, but also to
show her unusual gifts in many areas. When dealing with petitions from
poor people, she showed an extraordinary devotion. In the questioning
of Dutch authorities, she played the role of a dignified interpreter.
Her analysis of information was as good as a specialist’s.

Moreover, as she was fond of arranging flowers, every room of the
Police Department began to shed the perfume of flowers put there by
her. I do not know why, but red roses and white lilies were placed in
regular rotation in my room.

As for Iwan, his health had improved markedly since he was first put
in prison. He was given a special room with a bed and desk, he ate
meals prepared by Murni, and he was allowed to exercise and to read
newspapers and books freely. On my part, I did not forget to send
cakes and so forth to him through a servant whenever we had some at
home. At first he used to cry each time he saw me, but by now he had
become quite cheerful.

One Sunday I went out for a ride on my beloved horse, Marco. The horse
headed instinctively for the peaceful, beautiful district of
Mangalaan. Before I knew it, I was passing in front of Murni’s house.
Murni’s family was living modestly in a pavilion formerly owned by the
Dutch, now rented to them by the Japanese administration. Somebody
seemed to be playing a record in the house, as ‘The Serenade of
Dorigo’ could be heard outside.

I was just wondering whether to pay a call when a pretty girl about
five years old came running out gaily. On seeing me, however, she
jumped back into the house in surprise. I could hear her voice
calling, ‘Sister!’ After a while Murni came out in a simple house
dress and gave me a smiling welcome.

Murni, the girl and I began to chat, sitting on the ground beside
Marco, who was munching at the lawn. I said to Murni, ‘I took this
girl to be your child, but I see she is not.’

‘No, we have not yet had any children, I she replied, in a somewhat
sad tone. Then, abruptly, she pointed to the roof and asked me, ‘Do
you like doves? Look! Up there.’ The doves were exchanging tender kisses.

Suddenly the sky became threatening, and black squall clouds began to
sweep towards us with a swiftness like raging horses. Murni allowed
the strong wind to tousle her black hair, and gazed raptly at the
tumultous clouds. ‘Of all the wonders of nature, this is my favourite
moment’, she murmured with a look which seemed at once exultant and
sad. . .

A fortnight or so passed since the event described above. One day I
was slightly reproved by the Chokan after dinner. ‘You’ve been a bit
peculiar recently, haven’t you? Frankly I have been meaning to ask you
why . . . For instance, once when I came back from a walk with Chiro
(the Chokan’s pet dog), I found you in Chinese dress sound asleep on
the garden lawn, getting soaked by the night dew. When I woke you up,
you said you didn’t remember what you had done the night before. This
happened more than once or twice. Doctor A, whom I consulted,
suggested that you might be suffering from somnambulism, perhaps
influenced by some sort of illusion.’

At this point in the Chokan’s conversation, I grew moody, recalling
the question, ‘How did this Chinese robe come to shed a heliotrope
perfume?’ – a question which I myself was yet unable to answer.

The Chokan went on, ‘Apart from this issue, I suspect that these
incidents are related to mental stress and an immoderate use of your
brain. You have worked intensively from the settlement of the aron
affair to the release of 180,000 hectares of tobacco estate land. Why
don’t you take a rest at Brastagi? I believe we are not short of hands
now in the office.’

‘Let me think it over for a while.’

Following the Chokan’s advice, by the end of November I was
recuperating at Brastagi (70 kilometres south of Medan), a famous
resort on the Taro plateau with an average altitude of 1,500 metres.
The fields were ablaze with flowers carnations, cannas, lilies,
gladioli, chrysanthemums, roses and so on. The place was agreeably
located with the green of the lawns of many gardens surrounding it,
and Mt. Sibayak commanding the scene, issuing white smoke as it looked
down on the town.

One Sunday morning while I was at Brastagi, Murni and Salmiah, both
dressed formally, visited me without warning from far-away Medan.
After greeting me, they explained that the reason for their visit was
that they had heard nothing of me since I left Medan. We took tea on
the terrace of the guest house and ate the cakes they had brought. The
beautiful riding ground of a horse-riding club could be seen down
below us, and a man was galloping about on a grey horse. Although
Murni and Salmiah were making merry, exhilarated by the fresh air of
the plateau and the beautiful flowers, I was becoming increasingly
reticent. Eventually my irritation developed to a point where I felt I
would roar at them if the situation continued any longer. Asking to be
excused, I left the terrace and ran down the slope to the riding
ground. I leapt on to a horse, whipped it fiercely and headed like a
madman for a broad grassy field outside the riding ground. I rode from
one end of the field to the other, forcing the horse to jump over
every ditch, hillock and fence in its path. A voice inside me cried,
‘If you are supposed to be a madman, why not act like one?’ I whipped
the horse again. . .

Somebody is calling me. Who is it?

It was night when I awoke and saw, beside my pillow, Murni and
Salmiah gazing sadly and thoughtfully at me.