The Shadow of War: Never-ending Pain, Haunting Memories and the Soothing Calm of Pitjit

A little girl, born after World War Two in the Pacific from Javanese parents, Cis learns from Ibu, her mother, the magical, healing effects of Pitjit, Indonesian massage.

Every night her father is plagued by devastating nightmares. He re-lives night after night the time that his battalion was ambushed and the years in the Japanese concentration camp laboring at the Birma railroad during World War Two. His back is aching all the time. In his temper flare-ups and in his screams you hear his anguish and his fear.

Her father lies face down in the center of the floor of the small front room. Carefully Cis climbs on his back, barefoot, and finds her balance. Her father’s back feels cold and spongy. Due to a lack of vitamin B1 during the war both her parents suffer from beriberi and are retaining a lot of fluid. Little dark brown spots indicate the scars caused by cigarette butts snubbed out all across her father’s back. The scar of a bayonet shows in his side. The wounds of war are permanent.

With straight feet Cis walks with small steps left and right of his spine, back and forth, and back and forth. Then again, but now with pressure from her heels, her arms wide, balancing like a tightrope walker. It gives relief and her father smiles.

Now a mature woman, married, with two sons, Cis Everhard is the owner of an Indonesian Massage Practice in Hengelo, the Netherlands. She practices Pitjit with love and healing hands. “Van top tot teen Pitjit”, the wonderful book in the Dutch langugage that she wrote about her family and the healing ways of practicing Pitjit with hands and heart and soul is available on her website

It brought back memories for me of Java and Bali and the way it was, “tempo dulu”.

Excerpts from “Van top tot teen Pitjit” translated by Ronny Herman de Jong

I welcome your comments.

Until next time,



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