Monthly Archives: July 2008

On Translating Baciu’s “Patria”

Barely more than a month after I started blogging, I translated a poem entitled Patria by the Romanian exile, Stefan Baciu, whom I knew from my graduate school days at the University of Hawai‘i. Baciu administered one of my two foreign language reading exams required for my Ph.D. program. My major language (rather useful for research on Pacific languages) was French, for which I took a standardized test, while my minor language (less useful) was Romanian, for which Baciu chose a literary passage for me to translate, one describing a rural homestead after an uprising (or pogrom), with ‘rafters’, ‘sizzling flesh’, and other such vocabulary rare in the usual sorts of academic expository prose. (I was allowed to use a dictionary.)

Before I embarked on my language-rich, linguistics-poor Fulbright postdoc year in Romania in 1983, Baciu also gave me a copy of his (1980) self-published memoirs to take along. I left my copy with a literature professor at the University of Bucharest who showed a particular interest in Baciu, partly because all the exiles were nonpersons in Romania at the time. Nowadays, there is a growing revival of interest in those exiles, as Romanians seek to regenerate some of the historical limbs that were twisted, shriveled, or amputated during the communist and fascist eras of the last century. I think of it as a memory reforestation project, one that I hope does not lead to a revival of too much greenshirting.

Now that I have gained access to another copy of Baciu’s memoirs, I’ve been translating pages and posting them on this blog, doing my little bit to build a small English garden from his memories. In Wikipedia, I find it interesting that Baciu’s biographical entry is longer in the Spanish edition than in either the Romanian or the English edition. I’ve been adding External Links from the English Wikipedia entry to my translations here, but I noticed that the Spanish entry has far more External Links on Baciu, including a link to my English translation of the easiest of the three segments of the poem(s) entitled “Patria” (which I think best translates into ‘Home’ in this context).

So I thought I should try to translate the two harder passages in the bunch. The quatrains in Part II were harder because of the ABAB rhyme pattern, which forced me to swap lines and stray further from the meaning of the original words in several cases, while retaining the original imagery as far as possible. The hardest task in Part III was resisting the temptation to add a footnote to each line noting, for instance, that Time, Torch, and Ancient Beliefs were the names of publishers, or that Buzesti Square (not far from the Bucharest North train station) is now the site of a MacDonald’s and the Turkish restaurant (named “Shark”) where my wife and I shared a pleasant evening with my earlier Romanian cotranslator (of an old German grammar of a New Guinea language) and his wife during our quick visit to Bucharest in January. Networks of all kinds are so much easier to maintain these days.

Baciu’s “Patria” (‘Home’) is in several ways representative of his poetry in exile, which is full of nostalgia, longing, and the merger of mental and physical terrain across time and space. From now on, it’s back to translating memoirs, not quatrains, for me. Somebody else is welcome to translate his last major collection of poetry, entitled Peste o mie de catrene (‘Over a thousand quatrains’).

Home (Patria)


Home is an apple
in a Japanese grocery window
on Liliha Street
in Honolulu, Sandwich Islands
or a gramophone record
heard in silence in Mexico
–Maria Tanase beside the volcano Popocatepetl–
home is Brancusi’s workshop in Paris
home is a Grigorescu landscape
on an autumn afternoon in Barbizon
or the Romanian Rhapsody heard on a morning
in Port au Prince, Haiti
and home is the grave of Aron Cotrus
in California
home is a skylark who soars
without borders and without plans
home is a Dinu Lipatti concert
in Lucerne, Switzerland, on a rainy evening
home is this gathering of faces
of events and sounds
scattered across the globe
but home is
a moment of silence.

This is home.


With home you can talk by telephone,
You can hear it in distant whispers,
Carry it in your pocket, like a comb,
Or find it decapitated in the papers.

It’s not just earth or stone or air,
But a smell, a face, a twirl in the park,
A sound that echoes from anywhere,
A voice that pierces the midnight dark.

Because home is not an anthem bound,
illuminated, decorated, with border.
It’s a shroud, in deepest dreams rewound,
At dawn unraveled, in disorder.

Nor is home revived by boasts,
But by silence, by distance, by sorrow,
Squeezed from dust, on tropic coasts,
Scattered abroad, in hopes for the morrow.


The steeple of Saint Nicholas in Schei,
The echo of the train off Mt. Tâmpa at night,
“Kefir Lukianoff” in Cismigiu Park,
New books from “Time! Torch! Ancient Beliefs!”
“Hot corn-on-the-cob! Hot corn!”
Mr. Misu from Romanian Books,
The rainbow scarf of Emil Botta,
Maria Tanase singing at the Neptune in Buzesti Square,
Father commenting on War and Peace,
Or a page of poetry by Nietzsche
(tapping into the book with his index finger),
A cappuccino at the Crown

And this banknote of 500 lei,
Found in the bottom of a yellowed envelope,
Brought I don’t know how,
From Brasov to Brazil,
And then to Honolulu, Hawai‘i,
Island of Oahu,
Sandwich Archipelago

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Filed under Hawai'i, language, migration, Romania

Foreign Surgeons at the Birth of Zimbabwe, 1974-79

From The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence, by Martin Meredith (PublicAffairs, 2005), pp. 321-326:

The coup in Lisbon in April 1974 changed the fortunes of Rhodesia irrevocably. The end of Portuguese rule in Mozambique not only deprived Rhodesia of a long-standing ally and brought to power there a left-wing nationalist movement; it meant that Rhodesia’s entire eastern border, some 760 miles long, was potentially vulnerable to infiltration by Zanu guerrillas operating freely from bases in Mozambique. Moreover, Frelimo‘s accession to power in Mozambique emboldened Rhodesian nationalists to believe that in Rhodesia too guerrilla warfare would succeed in overthrowing white rule.

The South Africans were quick to recognise, in the aftermath of the Lisbon coup, that an entirely new strategy was needed. Hitherto, they had looked on Angola, Mozambique and Rhodesia as a valuable buffer separating them from contact with black Africa, a cordon sanitaire which it was in their own interests to strengthen. But with the withdrawal of the Portuguese from Angola and Mozambique, Rhodesia was no longer important as a front-line defence, for the winds of change had finally reached South Africa’s own frontier. The South African prime minister, John Vorster, calculated that in the long run Smith’s position, without an open-ended South African military and financial commitment, was untenable. White rule in Rhodesia was ultimately doomed. In this new assessment, Smith, with his long history of intransigence, was no longer a useful partner but a potential liability. His stubborn resistance to change only served to magnify the dangers of communist involvement in southern Africa. An unstable white government in Rhodesia was less preferable than a stable black government, heavily dependent on South African goodwill.

With this objective in mind, Vorster set out to force Smith to come to terms with the Rhodesian nationalists. He was obliged to act circumspectly for fear of antagonising his own electorate and provoking an outcry in Rhodesia. Fortuitously, he found an ally in Zambia’s President Kaunda, who had become increasingly concerned about the disruption caused in Zambia by the Rhodesian imbroglio and about the dangers of a widening guerrilla war there. In conjunction with other African leaders, Vorster and Kaunda conspired to impose on Smith and the nationalists their own plan for a Rhodesian settlement. As a preliminary step, Smith was required, much against his better judgement, to release nationalist detainees, including Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe….

Under pressure from South Africa, Smith went through the motions of attempting a negotiated settlement but, like Mugabe, saw no need to compromise. A conference in August 1975, held under the auspices of Vorster and Kaunda in railway carriages parked on the Victoria Falls bridge on the border between Rhodesia and Zambia, broke up in disarray after the first day….

In early 1976 the guerrilla war entered anew and more perilous phase. From bases in Mozambique, hundreds of Zanu guerrillas infiltrated into eastern Rhodesia, attacking white homesteads, robbing stores, planting landmines and subverting the local population. When Nkomo’s talks with Smith broke down, Zapu guerrillas joined the war, opening a new front in western Rhodesia, along the borders with Zambia and Botswana. Main roads and railways came under attack. White farmers bore the brunt, living daily with the risks of ambush, barricaded at night in fortified homes. A growing number of whites, rather than face military service, emigrated.

Though Rhodesia’s army commanders still expressed confidence in their ability to defeat the guerrilla menace, in many parts of the world it seemed that Smith was embarked upon an increasingly risky venture to sustain white rule which endangered the stability of the whole region. Among those whose attention was drawn to the Rhodesian war was Henry Kissinger. In the wake of the Angolan debacle, Kissinger was particularly alert to the dangers of how nationalist guerrilla wars could widen the circle of conflict, drawing in neighbouring countries and providing the Soviet bloc with opportunities for intervention. He found Vorster similarly worried and impatient with Smith’s intransigence. In tandem, they agreed on a plan to force Smith to accept majority rule. To make Smith amenable to the idea, Vorster cut back oil shipments and supplies of arms and ammunition, withdrew helicopter pilots and technicians from Rhodesia and delayed its import and export traffic through South Africa. Kissinger was left to present the terms of surrender.

At a meeting in Pretoria in September 1976, Kissinger handed Smith a typed list of five points that he said must be used as the basis for a Rhodesian settlement. Smith took the document and slowly read aloud the first point: ‘Rhodesia agrees to black majority rule within two years.’ He looked around the room and said: ‘you want me to sign my own suicide note.’…

When Smith finally left the stage as prime minister on the last day of white rule on 31 May 1979, his legacy was a state unrecognised by the international community, subjected to trade boycotts, ravaged by civil war that had cost at least 20,000 lives and facing a perilous future.

As the war intensified, Britain launched one last initiative to find a solution, calling for negotiations at a conference to be held in London. Muzorewa and Nkomo readily agreed to attend, but Mugabe saw no need. His guerrilla army was planning to embark on a new phase of urban warfare. ‘We felt we needed yet another thrust, and in the urban areas, in order to bring the fight home to where the whites had their citadels’, he recalled. The longer the war lasted, the greater were the prospects for achieving his revolutionary objectives.

Only under extreme pressure from Zambia ‘s Kenneth Kaunda and Mozambique’s Samora Machel did he eventually agree to attend. Both Zambia and Mozambique had suffered heavily as a result of Rhodesian raids on guerrilla bases and supply lines they harboured. Neither could afford to sustain the war any longer. Machel was blunt in his warnings: if Mugabe refused to go to London and explore negotiations, then Mozambique would withdraw its support….

Mugabe arrived in London in September 1979, a cold, austere figure who rarely smiled and seemed bent on achieving revolution, whatever the cost. While in exile he had repeatedly insisted on the need for a one-party Marxist state, threatened that Ian Smith and his ‘criminal gang’ would be tried and shot, and warned that white exploiters would not be allowed to keep an acre of land. His main hope was that the conference would break down.

Against all odds, however, the conference stumbled towards agreement. At the final hurdle, when Mugabe balked at accepting the ceasefire arrangements and made plans to fly to New York to denounce the whole proceedings at the United Nations, he was given a direct warning by an envoy from Machel that unless he signed the agreement, he could no longer count on using Mozambique as abase for operations; in other words, as far as Mozambique was concerned, the war was over. Mugabe was resentful about the outcome of the conference: ‘As I signed the document, I was not a happy man at all. I felt we had been cheated to some extent, that we had agreed to a deal which would to some extent rob us of [the] victory we had hoped we would achieve in the field.’…

Returning to Rhodesia in January 1980, nearly five years after his escape into exile, Mugabe was given a hero’s welcome by one of the largest crowds ever seen in Rhodesia. Banners portraying rockets, grenades, land mines and guns greeted him, and many youths wore T-shirts displaying the Kalashnikov rifle, the election symbol that Zanu wanted but the British had disallowed. But Mugabe himself was unexpectedly conciliatory. In Mozambique, shortly before Mugabe’s return to Salisbury, Samora Machel, still struggling to overcome the massive disruption caused by the exodus of whites at independence in 1975, had intervened to warn Zanu against fighting the election on a revolutionary platform. ‘Don’t play make-believe Marxist games when you get home,’ he said. ‘You will face ruin if you force the whites into precipitate flight.’ Consequently, Mugabe’s manifesto was stripped of all reference to Marxism and revolution.

Black Star Journal has an update on the latest reactions of African leaders to what Mugabe hath wrought.

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Filed under Britain, democracy, Mozambique, nationalism, Portugal, South Africa, U.S., war, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Baciu’s Memories of Brasov: Country Cousins

From Praful de pe Tobă: Memorii 1918-1946, by Stefan Baciu (Editura Mele, 1980), pp. 11-12 (my translation):

From the earliest years of my childhood, we would spend part of our holidays, especially at Easter and in summer, together with Father in his native village, Nadeşul Săsesc [Saxon Nades] in Târnava Mică county, where lived Grandmother, an uncle who was a priest, married to my father’s sister, Auntie Elena, and several first and second cousins. We would leave from Braşov for Sighişoara on either the express or the limited express, and from there we would take a suitably dilapidated bus for about an hour, through potholes, dust, or mud, along the road between Sighişoara and Târgul Mureş. At the bus station, which was at the head of the village, would be waiting Uncle Rusu and a few cousins, who would accompany us on the road to the parsonage in the middle of the village, where they lived. We would walk, while the oxcart followed slowly behind with the suitcases and packages we had brought along, with an occasional “haw” or “gee,” which would give me great pleasure. It makes me nostalgic to think of the evenings we spent crammed around the table, chatting over a glass of Târnave wine or, when I was still small, listening to my elders. During the days, we would go for walks through the vineyards or to the neighboring villages, Ţigmandru and Pipea, collecting mushrooms on the road through the woods. In the evening we would roast them with pieces of bacon skewered on spits of hazel wood expertly carved by Uncle Ionel.

Every afternoon around five was a special moment, when the bus delivered the postal sack, which was carried to the Post Office, whose mistress was my cousin, Tiţa Dan. I would attend the undoing of the sack as a kind of ritual, snatching out of her hands envelopes addressed to me. Other cousins would usually attend this “cult”: Elvira and Sabina Dan, Ionel Moldovan, Lucia and Stela Rusu, with whom I would discuss the news in the letters and magazines we received. Sometimes I would go home with Ionel Moldovan and we would sit on a wooden bench under a leafy tree, breaking open large and juicy onions and drinking generously of wine brought by Auntie Aurelia, the mother of Ionel, a newly commissioned second lieutenant in the cavalry.

The last time I was in Nadeş was only for a single day, with Mira, in the spring of 1946, only a few months before leaving the country. Grandmother examined us with her weak eyes under the ever-present headscarf covering her forehead, then took me aside and said, “Bravo, Ştéfane (accented on the first e), fine wife you’ve taken. She’s a real lady!” At parting, she asked me if I had opened an office (she knew that I was licensed in law), and when I was just about to leave she put a question to me that I didn’t realize at the time showed prophetic vision, “What do you think, Ştéfane; will this democracy last a while? Because the kids roam the streets and shout that that’s democracy!”

NOTES: ‘Auntie’ renders Tuşa; ‘express’ renders accelerat and ‘limited express’, rapidul; ‘dilapidated’ renders hodorogit; ‘haw’ renders hăiş and ‘gee’, cea, which steer draft animals to the left or right, respectively; ‘mushrooms’ renders bureţi (also ‘sponges’); ‘cousins’ renders veri şi verişoare (Fr. cousins et cousines); ‘juicy’ renders zămoase (zămos), a word I couldn’t find in my dictionaries (but see zămoşiţă ‘hibiscus’, which has a sticky sap); ‘was just about to leave’ renders eram gata de drum (lit. ‘was road-ready’).

UNSOLICITED PLUG: I’ve bought a motley assortment of Romanian dictionaries in print, none of them either comprehensive enough or bilingual enough to handle this translation. Instead, whenever I translate from Romanian, I now keep open the best Romanian-English dictionary I’ve found in any medium. According to the publisher, it has over 30,000 words in Romanian, along with more than 35,000 translations of common and less common phrases. And it is indeed “extremely fast and easy to use.”

UPDATE: Mulţumesc cititorului Mihai, who pointed me toward zemos ‘juicy’, related to zeama ‘juice’, a word I knew but didn’t think of when I needed it.


Filed under democracy, family, language, Romania

Baciu’s Memories of Brasov: Hobbies

From Praful de pe Tobă: Memorii 1918-1946, by Stefan Baciu (Editura Mele, 1980), p. 10 (my translation):

I don’t think that I would have been more than 6 or 7 when I began to use scissors to cut caricatures of politicians out of the newspapers, saving them in different shoeboxes. I recognized from “the lines” and signature the most important caricaturists of the era: Sell, Ross, Dragoş, Anestin, Dralex. Thus I learned, without yet being able to read very well, such figures as Trancu-Iaşi, Tancred Constantinescu, Jean Th. (Tehaş) Florescu, Mihail Oromolu, Marshal Averescu, Iuliu Maniu, Vaida Voievod, I. G. Duca, Nichifor Robu, Leonte Moldovanu, Ştefan Ciceo Pop, and all the Bratianu family, not to mention Argetoianu, Iorga, A. C. Cuza, and Octavian Goga. At about the same time, I “organized” a collection of automotive insignia that, with the aid of a pin on the back of little metal plaques, could be worn on the chest like a kind of brooch. I kept them in boxes lined with wadding and can still see before me the various insignia: NSU, Alfa Romeo, Hispano Suiza, BMW, Austro Daimler, Lancia, Ford, Chevrolet, Puch.

After that came an era of postage stamps, stuck in a Schaubeck album, but philately didn’t last long. One fine day I began to sell them to Old Man Gebauer, who owned a toy shop in front of the Council House, in a style that today reminds me of certain surrealist photographs. I sold him row upon row of my hard-won collection, and with the money I bought pamphlets and magazines at Staicu’s kiosk facing Military Circle on the Promenade. I would have been 10 or 11 when one day I asked, “Who is Stelian Popescu” and “the hundred millions of Romulus Boila.” A man who at just that moment was buying a pack of cigarettes looked me up and down, then said, “Well, now, my boy, is that what you’re reading about?” Yes, it was true, that is what I was reading, and I remember how avidly I bought articles signed X.X.X., which were said to have been written by Marshal Averescu himself.

Speaking of collections, I also remember my autograph collection, about which more will be said later, and my collection of political posters, probably an extension of … the caricatures. I remember that one day Father found me, probably rather surprised, stringing up as if for exhibit large posters of the Iron Guards, and other little red ones with stickers on the back, of the Workers and Peasants Bloc, communists, which I had obtained from their respective leaders (the lawyer Trifan and the doctor Kahane), presenting myself as “the son of Prof. Dr. Ion Baciu.” I think both were amused, each in his own way, by the unexpected visit, but they both gave me “rich material” that I placed in respectable enough bundles classified by party: liberals, socialists, peasant parties, factions loyal to Lupu, Iunian, Cuza, Iorga, or even Ghelerter, because I had discovered at Dealul Zorilor [Dawn Hill] tavern, where they sold wines from liberal vineyards, the old “agitator” Iuliu Neagu Negulescu, who had become an innkeeper in Brasov.

NOTES: ‘Old Man’ renders Moş.

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Red Cross Inspector Shibai, Nagasaki, 1944

From First into Nagasaki: The Censored Eyewitness Dispatches on Post-Atomic Japan and Its Prisoners of War, by George Weller (1907-2002), ed. by Anthony Weller (Three Rivers, 2006), pp. 63-67:

Underground in the mine you could always tell when the B-29s were making a visit overhead. The main power plant on the surface closed down, the weaker auxiliary pumps went into action, and the air grew gluey and hard to breathe. In a slightly different way you could tell, while underground, when the Red Cross man was making a visit. From every section gang the strongest American was told off and ordered to take the mine train to the surface. He had ceased being a miner; he was now an actor. He had a role in a play that the mine authorities were going to put on for the benefit of the audience of one: the Red Cross inspector.

Two or three days before the Red Cross man—usually a Swiss or Swede—actually arrived, secret rehearsals had already been begun by what might be called the leads: the Japanese authorities of the camp. But for the real fibre of the performance the Japanese counted on their unrehearsed extras, the Americans.

Show day comes. A one-shot performance can be as good as its scenery, rarely any better. What is this extraordinary change that has overtaken the filthy little clinic, where operations without anesthesia have often taken place? It is transformed. Not only ether and morphine, but other medicines have appeared, the very medicines that were unobtainable 24 hours ago…. And look at the notice board! What are those neatly typewritten sheets fluttering from its black surface, now suddenly innocent of punishment records? It is the Daily News Bulletin, no less. (“We do what we can, Mr. Inspector, to satisfy the extraordinary American curiosity about current events.”)

And here comes the Red Cross visitor, walking like a prisoner himself in a phalanx of potbellied Japanese colonels and majors. Has he been underground? He has not. Will he get a view of the barracks? Well, a quick one, maybe. But first he is shown documents for three hours, till his eyes ache. Then the place for him to go is to the hospital. After all, a hospital is the great index of humanity. If the hospital in a prison camp is all right, everything else must be all right, too.

And everything in the little hospital is right, as superlatively right as the last canto of Scrooge’s Christmas. Just the entrance alone is beautiful. On each side of the door, Red Cross boxes are piled tastefully in twin pyramids—medicines, food, a cornucopia of abundance. The military interpreter opens the door and the inspector enters. Order and cleanliness, a lovely sight. The faces of the men on their cots are turned toward him. Sick? If these men are the sick, confined to the hospital under medical treatment, then it is hardly necessary to see the healthy, now working down in the mine. For these men, as prison standards go, are not badly off at all. Their faces—though wearing a peculiar quizzical, stolid expression—are round and full. Their eyes are clear. A Japanese doctor would call them robust.

The visitor, stroking his moustache, turns to the Japanese nurse, one of several chubby little starched creatures who have been placed at even intervals the length of the ward, like markings on a clinical thermometer. “How are the prisoners doing?” he inquires through the interpreter. “Oh, very well, very very well,” she says, with a shining nursely smile.

The inspector observes there are white sheets on the mattresses. Really not bad, altogether. Each man has a can of salmon or of pears at the same geometrical point near his bed. Not quite within reach, perhaps, but nearby.

Gently Captain Fukuhara suggests that perhaps the official party had better not delay too long in the hospital. Luncheon is already waiting. Would the inspector like to see what the prisoners are eating? The party passes rapidly through the kitchen to the mess hall, where the prisoners are lined up, waiting to be seen. Their faces still bear looks of unmistakable pleasure and anticipation, in which a sharp eye might detect strong traces of astonishment. There is no doubt that this is a happy camp. Look at the faces of the prisoners as they scan the miracle that lies waiting for them in their wooden mess gear: three camp rolls with a dab of margarine, bean soup with a bit of pork, a spoonful of Japanese red caviar, and a baked apple.

(It is the baked apple, though the visitor does not know this, which has really bewitched them. This baked apple is more than remarkable; it is historical. It is the only baked apple ever seen at Camp #17 in two years.)

The inspector has now seen the camp. But he must not go away without talking to one or two individual prisoners. So he is led to the Japanese headquarters, he is settled in the comfortable chair of the commandant, and several handpicked Americans are brought to him. The room is full of Japanese military and police; the only non-Japanese are the prisoner and the Red Cross man.

“We were selected for health, first,” Sergeant Joe Lawson of Klamath Falls explains it. “Then, when they knew the inspector was at the railroad station, they double-timed us to a bath, clean clothes and a shave. We went in that room and only needed to look around at the familiar faces to know what we were up against. We’d had plenty of stickwork done on us already. We knew that to get plenty more, all we needed to do was open our mouths.”

Now the last monosyllabic prisoner has walked out. The inspector rises. It is all over. Everybody is smiling. Nobody has said or heard anything disagreeable or discordant. Even the prisoners back in their quarters are happy in a way, for their fears that the visitor would ask penetrating questions and make it impossible for them to conceal the truth have been dispelled. The lie is still intact. How cheerful everyone is! Captain Fukuhara—on whose hands is the blood of five Americans beaten and starved to death in the aeso, the guardhouse—is geniality itself. He suggests a photograph to perpetuate the occasion. His lieutenants take up the proposal with an acclaim like bacchantes. A picture, a photograph of everybody! We must have it!

A table is decorated with cigarettes, cookies and fruit from the mess of the kempeitai, the military police. A Japanese Cecil Beaton runs around, all dithery excitement until he finds what he wants to put on the table with the edibles: a trumpet, a harmonica and a guitar. A suggestion is made that some of the irreproachable prisoners might be summoned back to get in the picture, but the picture is too crowded already, and the suggestion falls flat…. “All smile, prease!” (It is a little joke, for the fussy photographer to use the language of the prisoners, and all smile at it.) “Sank you! All finish!”

The military motorcar is waiting for the Red Cross man. Perhaps, in this last moment of shaking hands, he may be troubled by some inner doubts. But there is no time to sift them. He must hurry off, for he is to catch the train for Moji, connecting with the express for Tokyo. See you next year!

If he had seen the prisoners the next day, instead, the inspector would have learned more. If his officer escort would allow him to get off at the first station, turn around and go back to the camp, the inspector might see how the pageant of his welcome, as insubstantial as Prospero’s, faded into nothingness as soon as he left.

What has happened in the camp? The pyramids of Red Cross packages are demolished. The boxes are in Captain Fukuhara’ s closet, and the key is in his pocket. The cans of fish and pears have disappeared. Gone, too, are the white sheets from the hospital beds; where, nobody knows. The little nurses are climbing into their truck to be taken back to the local hospital in Omuta, swans never seen before in camp, unlikely to be seen again. The Daily News Bulletin is gone without a trace from the notice board, and a kempeitai is frowningly nailing back the punishment schedule. In the kitchen the Navy cook, Woodie Whitworth of Bourne, Texas, is preparing supper. The menu is the same as usual: one-half bowlful of plain rice, laced with millet to make it cheaper.

A column of prisoners dressed for work, with cap-lamps and sweat rags, is marching past the god of the mine (a giant, greenish-black statue of an idealized Mitsui miner, towering in the prison yard above the buildings). As their guards command them, they all bow to his exalted, unsmiling image. These miners are the extras of the benefit performance, who were patients in the hospital until a few minutes ago.

Having arrived at the entrance shaft they adjust their lamps for the last time, hug their mess-gear full of cold rice, climb into the roller coaster-like iron train and hold on. The cable starts moving. The train slides down the slanting chute into the sooty, echoing tunnel. For a while its roar is loud, but soon it dies away. After five minutes or so a bell rings. The cable slows, tightens, and finally stops. The patients from the hospital have reached their normal level of operation, 1,440 feet below ground. The sideshow is over. The Mitsui show is on once more.

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Filed under Japan, NGOs, U.S., war