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2: Samson

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Samson was the No. 9 criminal, one of the numbers whom the Japanese did not dare to free. He was very friendly with the doctor of the prison, a fat bold man, who was immensely proud to have studied in Heidelberg, Germany. He was very pro-Nazi and looked like a German in spite of his black skin. We were allowed to see the doctor twice a week, if we had any complaints. We were led by one of the wardens along passages and cells to the doctor's room. There we had to sit on a bench outside his room. Ho used to give us herbs in little paper-folders for headaches, diarrhoea, constipation etc. We very soon realized that the herbs he gave us made our conditions worse instead of better. This medicine was all phoney or intentionally spiteful. We still continued to go to him just to be able to stretch our logo and see a little of the prison and people. One day, it was my birthday and the warden came to fetch those of us who wanted to see the doctor. I went along. When I entered his room I saw a huge birthday cake on his table. I recognized it as the kind of home-made cake with nuts which my Italian friend Nora used to bake for me. At once I understood that she had delivered the cake for me at the gates of the prison. Samson was sitting as usual next to the doctor, and he was munching with great delight on a big slice of "my" cake. The doctor grinned and looked at me, expecting a reaction. My stomach turned at the meanness of the two men. I pretended not to see the cake, but sure enough Samson's voice drawled slowly; "delicious cake, would you like a slice?" My thoughts argued with each other an I tried to decide what to say. I was not going to fall into the trap. Samson had no intention of giving me a slice of "my" birthday-cake and he know that I knew that it was my cake. Like the doctor, he was waiting for an outburst from me , which they would both thoroughly enjoy. So I looked around blankly at him, and absent mindedly asked, "which cake?". The doctor slapped his knees and, laughing, he pointed to Samson with his fat finger; "Do you hear that? She does not recognize her own birthday cake" By that time my mouth was watering watching the two men heartily consuming another slice of cake each. Inwardly I shook with fury at this injustice, and replied cooly; "Whose birthday in it?; Samson stopped eating, and his eyes narrowed. He preened at me, licked the cream off his fingers and said, "What a pity you don't want any of this cake. It is really very nice." I ignored him, stated that I suffered headaches, accepted herbs in an envelope from the doctor and left the room. When I was back in the cell I cried. It was not because of the cake, but the hurt caused by the teasing of the two men. I detested Samson and hated the doctor with a real fear. Soon after this incident I fell ill with a fever. How happy I was; I did not struggle to got better and hoped that I would die. My mother was desperate. The warden and the numbers came with the tin plates with rice and salt. Samson asked my mother what was wrong with me and she told him that I had a high fever. He did not say anything, but left quietly. Then suddenly he returned and knelt ?? is on the ground next to no. He had some white pills in his hand, "Here ", he said, "Take these against the fever." I shook my head and pushing his hand away said, "I don't want any pills; I don't want to got better." He bent forward, got hold of my jaw and pushing the pills into my mouth said severely, "Swallow." I had to swallow, and was crazy with anger at his. Then Samson quickly disappeared. He never seemed to walk, but moved swiftly like a snake. My mother ran to me and asked, "What did Samson do?" I answered, "He forced pills into my mouth either to kill me or make me better; I hate him!" After an hour I could feel the fever getting less and could tell that I was getting better. Towards the evening Samson returned, knelt down on the ground beside as and ordered me to swallow another two pills. The next morning I was better, but very weak from the high fever. I wobbled out of the cell into the court-strip to dry up. When Samson appeared I ignored him. He too acted as if nothing had happened. What was his motive for saving my life? Was it sadistic pleasure to force me to live when he knew very well that I wished to die? Or was it a genuine motive of compassion for me because I refused to beg for a piece of my own birthday cake? Samson offered us some bars of soap, which we could buy from him if we had an address outside the prison where one of the wardens could go to got money. The Swiss, Germans, Italian and Swedes were free and were not put in camps. Many of them were willing to help us, especially if no risks were involved, for instance, they would pay money for us to be able to have soap. Our friends outside were willing to oblige.

After we had been using the soap for some weeks, Samson with his secretive smile told us that the soap was given to him by the Japanese to wash the bodies of the dead before they were buried. We continued to use the soap for ourselves, feeling guilty towards the dead and thankful to our friends outside paying Samson for this service.

The enigma of Samson - One day he came and asked "Who would like to come to the doctor?" I should have known that something was up. Why was there eagerness in his voice? I went along with a few others and while I waited outside the doctor's room, I saw a young man of about 20 years old walking between two Kempetai officers towards and past us. His eyes were full of agony and his face was deathly white. Terrible fear took hold of my heart. I looked at the Kempetai officers and shivered. They had no expression either-in their eyes or faces. They were just masks. One could not get through to these two men emotionally, because they were like walking corpses themselves.

To my horror they turned to an open court-apace (No. 6) opposite us and from a pole lowered a noose. We gasped and closed our eyes. Season watched us and smiled. The anguish on the young man's face was terrible, but he was so brave, he did not shout, nor sob. We don't know what he had done, but he was slowly tortured to death in front of our eyes and, while we did not want to watch, we were forced by Samson to stay where we were with closed eyes, weeping for the young man. How we suffered for him, cold sweat was on our own faces and we waited and waited for his end to come. How I prayed for him: "God help him! God help him! God comfort him, please God lot him not feel any pain, please God lot him die soon..." I can't remember how long it took, but when it was all over, the world seemed different than ever before. Did people say that hell comes after death? Hell in already here on earth, even if it continues beyond the grave for some souls. Only the Power of God is greater than the power of Hell. Only through Grace are we saved from this hell on earth, which is a huge grave-yard of humanity. I prayed to God not to lot me go mad. I feared madness and admitted that it was all too much for me. My head reeled, my heart thumped with grin despair of human virtue. The world seemed to sweep over me, and I felt I would drown in it. Never will I forget the face and the eyes of that young man, nor of the two Kampetai officers. At least there was life in the face of the young man, but there was only death in the faces of the two officers. They killed his body, while their souls were already sick unto death. A drama there is concealed in life, a drama in which life and death take on now meaning.

When the war was over, I heard that Samson and the other "numbers" had been released by the Japanese; so they were free again. They disappeared into the Campongs (villages) around the town of Bandoeng, and were as scorpions among the people.

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