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We Have Returned by DEAN CADLE It was in the evening, with the sun already gone and Leyte's green hills turning blue. I was walking on the beach, down near the water where the moist sand was cool to my bare feet. The evenly-spaced rows of soldiers' tents, with bamboo frameworks and wooden floors and beds that had mattresses, with center tables, radios playing a lively piece of rhythm, and books and magazines from the big cities of America, were on my right. They were well-built tents, too, and, like most things that come from the States, must have been the best. That's what my parents, my Nana and my Tata, always say: if it comes from the States it is good. And they should know, for they are much older than my twelve years. And even I can see that most of the things from the States are better than anything the Japanese ever brought with them. And on my left and washing up on the sand almost to my feet was the dark-green water edged with a lace-work of white foam, and out across the water was the misty blue land of the island of Samar. Nana had told me a while before in our dialect, "Go down to the mess hall, Gonzolo . Stay until the cooks throw out the scraps and see what you can find." I had played on the beach until the cooks had gone, then I climbed up on the platform and removed the covers from the garbage cans. Inside there were chicken bones and browned skin and pieces of white meat. I filled a tin can with the largest pieces and was taking them back to the banka for supper. Tonight we would have chicken with rice. White chicken meat and rice fried in coconut oil for supper tonight before we set sail to begin the long trip for home on Mindanao, I was thinking as I looked up to see if Nana had the coffee fire lit yet in the banka. She didn't. Then I saw the army boat, pulled up alongside our banka. It was a big squarish steel boat with the motor in the rear. I had seen many before, the kind on which the front end falls down. This was a raid. I knew it. A raid on our banka by the MP's. One soldier with an MP band around his left arm and a gun on his right hip was standing on the side of the boat and two were in our banka, 23 one with a gun and one wearing only swimming shorts. I ran up to a group of soldiers standing on the beach who had come from the tents. My sister Teresa had swum ashore from the banka and was standing with them, her thin dress drenched and clinging close to her body. I set the can of chicken at her feet. She had her arms folded across her wet dress clinging to her breasts, and didn't say a word. I dived into the water and swam to the banka and climbed onto one of the outriggers and straddled it. Down inside the banka was a fourth soldier. He was examining the clothes we had packed in a cardboard box labeled Schlitz beer. There were five sheets. He handed these up to the MP with the armband and the gun, who threw them into the launch. The soldier in shorts was cutting strings from other boxes. The MP with the gun standing on the launch kept looking at Estella, my sisterin -law, and at my cousin Juanita. Estella was sitting in the end of the banka, Juanita was in the water and holding to the side. "Please, soldier, don't take our things," Tata was saying in our dialect. He cannot speak English, only our Chavacano dialect. My two male cousins were swearing in Chavacano. "Please, Sear," Nana said in broken English, "don't take them. They belong to us." "They're GI, aren't they?" the MP with the gun in the banka said. "We're taking everything that's GI." "But we bought them...


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pp. 23-28
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