Bridges and Connections

Sometimes we can stand back and view the past from an adult or dispassionate perspective, yet at other times, our memories are so embedded in the feelings, in the language, in the atmosphere of those times that it would be inappropriate, or too difficult, to try to disassociate one’s self from those events and their memories. So the retelling becomes a journey into the past, through the past, of the past.

Join me here, as I draw my life out of dark and happy places, but forgive me if I linger there when you have tasted and experienced, those events with that other me, and you have then moved on.

Cunard White Star SS Scythia

Source

It was 1948, and my parents and I had arrived in Australia from India. We had arrived at the docks at Fremantle on the Cunard White star SS Scythia’.

We had been thrown out of India. Partition. How could I have been thrown out? I was an Indian. I had been born an Indian… and although I didn’t know it then, I would always remain an Indian… or as I was to discovered later, a Pakistani.

Quetta. It is the capital city of Baluchistan. The ethnic inhabitants of Baluchistan are called the Baluch… My father often said, “Always remember you are a Baluch, my boy”.

I was a Baluch. I was an Indian.

Partition had separated the Hindu from the Musalman; the Musalman from the Sikh… but how could it separate me from my own country?

“Always remember you are a Baluch, my boy”.

I don’t know how many times my father would say to me that my country was India. Sometimes, apropos of nothing, he would turn to me and say,

“Always remember you are a Baluch, my boy”.My father told me quite frequently that I was a Baluchi.

A strange anomaly in that, on one hand he would constantly be trying to confirm in me that I was an Indian, but he had been most worried when I had spoken in Urdu or Hindi or Marathi, with the servants and the other Indians with whom I came in contact on the Cantonment.

Source

I was born in Quetta, the Capital City of Baluchistan. My father was in the British India Army and his wife, my mother, was the Memsahib.

When I was very small, my parents employed an Ayah, a Baluchi lady who took care of me, as a nanny does in Britain. I have vague memories of her. They are of a lady wearing a very dark red sari, perhaps, and my memories also bring to mind a lady who treated me with love and affection. And I also remember that she had bare feet which were as hard as leather, but very gentle hands, as soft and kind as any mother's to her child. I adored her.

She was responsible for my feeding, my well being, my care and everything that a mother lavishes on a loved child. I have a feeling that she also was my wet nurse, as my mother had been quite ill before and after my birth, and was not particularly robust. My memories of this lady, my Ayah, are vague, but also they are lovely memories, because I really became very attached to her.

This was all very well, but it caused some concern, as my parents realised quite soon that I was beginning to talk to her in Barohi and Baluch, as these were the languages with which she was familiar. Baluch is the language of the ethnic Baluchi, and Barohi (or Brohi) is the Classical Language of Baluchistan.

The nursery rhymes she used to soothe me to sleep and which I learned were in Urdu and Barohi. One which I loved went something like:

Nini baba nini (Sleep baby sleep,)

Muckan roti chini (Butter, bread and sugar,)

Nini baba so giah (Sleepy baby satisfied)

Muckan roti hogiah (Bread butter finished)


My God! The Little Chap's "gone native".

My parents became even more concerned, as I was happy to speak not only Barohi, and Baluch, but also Urdu; all to the exclusion of the English language. There was quite a “fear” within British India society that people would “go native”; that they would become too well assimilated within the native culture and population. The British officers, especially, were encouraged to speak at least one of the “Native” languages, so as to be able to communicate with lower Indian Ranks and with servants, but all else was frowned on.

There had been a Viceroy who had “Gone Native”. Horrors!

This little Chota Sahib was in danger of going native and seemed happy to do so. So my Ayah was taken away from me, and I was encouraged to speak English as much as possible. My mother, being Welsh, also taught me to speak her mother tongue.

But I took to speaking the native languages like a duck to water, and by the time I was nine years of age I could speak Brohi, Baluch, Welsh, Urdu and Hindi (basically the same really) because I lived in India and most of us spoke the language, anyway and also Marathi because Krishna, our bearer, was Marathi speaking and we lived in Dehu Road Cantonment which is near Poona (now Pune) in Maharashtra Province.

So going to Australia was easy, and I picked up that language quite quickly! After all, the Australians have spoken a form of English for years and years.

The North Perth Hotel

We had arrived in West Australia in February of that year. It was hot, and as far as I could see, it was not unlike the country from which we had come. It wasn’t as hot as it was at home in India, in the Dehu Road Cantonment, but it was still very hot, and dry.

For the first few weeks we lived at the North Perth Hotel.

It was so different in Perth. One of the first things I noticed was that there weren’t lots of people everywhere. It wasn’t exciting, noisy, vibrant, and nearly all the people were white people, but they didn’t wear uniforms, and they sounded strange when they spoke. Their accents were so very different from the way my parents and the other Officers and their Memsahibs used to speak. But they spoke English, and I could speak English, because my parents wanted me to.

The North Perth Hotel was an old Victorian building that was typical of much of the older Perth architecture. A corrugated iron roof, painted brown, or perhaps rusted brown, but the effect was the same. Deep verandas at ground level and also on the first floor.

Lager glasses
Lager glasses

Downstairs, off the street, there were several entrances; several leading directly into the bars downstairs. When we walked past we could smell the beer. Everybody seemed to be drinking beer all the time. There were, as I found out very soon, bars which were for men only. Ladies were discouraged from entering, and I am sure that few would have wanted to. Daddy said that the bars were a “male domain” which meant that men used to go in there to show off, I think, but Daddy didn’t like the way the men behaved in there. There was also a small room inside, called a “Ladies’ Lounge” where ladies would meet with their friends and drink Swan Lager from schooners

Hay Street, Perth

Source

On the first day in North Perth, my parents had gone to look in the windows of the local shops. They took me with them and we stopped at the first shop, which was opposite our hotel.

When she looked in the windows of the shop, Mummy had been amazed at the piles of confectionery and sweet things there.

Not only on the bottom of the window, and on shelves, but strung along the top of the window, on thin white cord, were white and red walking sticks…as big as Daddy’s hand, as thick as Daddy’s thumb… bright red and snowy white striped walking sticks… I gazed at them. What beautiful decorations

“But no chocolate!” My mother was triumphant as she gave this information to my father.

“There are so many sweets… but no chocolate”

This seemed to make it better. Auntie Lyszod, in Wales, had to use her ration book to get chocolate… and here… but the look of triumph; the look of satisfaction fell from her face as we entered the shop; for there in the front shelf of a refrigerated display; just behind and under the counter, were rows of chocolates and rows of chocolate bars. There was a huge block of milky looking ice at either end, inside the glass case and the glass was cold and wet when I touched it.

When we lived in Colchester with my English Granddad, Mummy made an Easter Egg using cocoa powder and sugar. She cooked it all together in a little saucepan with some milk and butter and when it was runny she poured the hot chocolaty stuff into two big serving spoons and when they were cool and hard, she stuck them together to make an Easter Egg. I was the only boy at school who had one, but I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone, because they might tell someone else.

That was like when Mummy bought some parachute silk which an American man had and she made me a shirt out of it. I looked very Posh, because Granddad said so, but because it was against the law to have parachutes, I wasn’t allowed to wear it outside and show my friends… in case Mummy and Granddad, and maybe I, would have to go to prison.

But I didn’t see any jelabies or gulabjamin in the shop. There were no Indian sweets, just strange sweets I had never seen before. And nearly all of them were wrapped up in silver paper and paper and they had writing on them to tell you what was inside.

Hay Street, Perth, with electric trams.

Rationing was still in force in Britain and of course, sugar was included… yet here, almost obscenely, were piles of sweets in the windows of the shops… pale bleached pink, green and white marshmallows, and liquorice, and toffees…toffees oozing their thick liquid from inside their wrappers, down the inside of the glass in the late West Australian sunshine.

And down in one corner, lying on his back, with his legs in the air, was a dead fly. Maybe he ate too may sweets, or he was very old, and he just died there.

Mummy said that Auntie Lyszod in Wales had suffered, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, through rationing. Sweets and chocolates were a luxury, and the Ministry of Food had burdened the country with ration books and dictated that everyone should tighten his belt as we had just been at war.

I couldn’t see how tightening your belt would make you not want to eat sweets, but parents and other grownups say strange things sometimes.


My cousin Morlais and I.  Brynteg House, South Wales
My cousin Morlais and I. Brynteg House, South Wales | Source

Yet Auntie Lyszod and the rest of the family hadn’t suffered as much as those people who were living in the cities.

I know, because my Mummy and I had been in Wales for a while when my Mummy and Daddy were angry with each other, and my Mummy had gone back to look after Mamgu, my grandmother.

We weren’t as unlucky as some people about the Rationing because my Uncle Rees was a farmer and he had seven cows and a bull, so we always had enough milk and butter, and there were chickens in the garden at Brynteg House, my mother’s family home. We even had pigs and although we were supposed to notify the Ministry of Food or something, about the pigs, and hand them over to be slaughtered when they were big enough, I am sure that this was never done.

I had three pigs altogether, but it was sad what happened to them so I won’t explain about that here. It wasn't very nice and it makes me sad to think about it.

But that was long ago, and I can’t remember lots about being in Wales, except being able to sit in Mamgu’s lap in front of the big black range in the kitchen, and the fire made us lovely and warm. Mamgu was soft and cuddly, but outside was always wet and cold, and there were little bits of words from newspapers when I went to the lavatory. Just a word here or there in the lavatory paper, but it didn’t make sense. There wasn't a story; just odd words.

Auntie Lyszod said that they made newspaper back into lavatory paper when people had read them, and that’s why the words were there. There were words in English, and I could read them, because I could speak English and I could read in English, but when I was at school and playing with my cousin Morlais, I used to speak Welsh. Mamgu said I spoke Welsh better than a Welshman.

When we were in the shop, my father bought me a pink and white walking stick made of sweet peppermint, and for each of us: for my mother, for me, and for himself, he bought a white paper bag. The bag was folded to make a triangular shape and out of the corner of the bag; out of the apex of the triangle, stuck a short, white paper straw.

He handed one to me, and I felt a soft weight in the bottom of the paper bag, the sharp corners if the paper, and the soft belly that held something soft. He raised his bag and, putting the straw to his lips, drew on it, and then indicated that I should do the same. I brought that straw to my lips.

“Suck it,” said my father, and his eyes were smiling as I seldom saw him smile, “Suck on it. It’s nice.”

I sucked deeply and an explosion of taste and pain hit my eyes, the inside of the back of my nose, my palate. I coughed and spluttered, and laughed. My nose was wet; my eyes streamed; my scalp felt as if I had received a whack from inside my head, Yet I laughed and spluttered some more.

“Sherbet,” he roared, “That takes me back. I haven’t had sherbet since I was a boy.”

My father bent forward and slapped his knee with his left hand, the right, containing his bag, spilled white powder over the ground.


When we went out for the day to look at our new surrounding; our new home in a strange country, my mother made me leave the remains of the stick of peppermint I had been sucking. I left it on the dressing table by the window.

We were out all day. But when we returned to the room late in the afternoon, my piece of peppermint stick was no longer striped red and white, but brown with tiny crawling ants. It looked like a long brown cushion that was just slightly moving as if it was breathing.

I remember being in the North Perth Hotel, and the little army of marching ants that climbed from the wall and the floor.

The wall seemed to have ants moving all over it. Directionless. Scouts, perhaps of a larger party. If I had looked closer, as I had learned, or would learn to do later, I would have seen that each of these seemingly randomly wandering insects had a purpose, and that they exchanged information with each and every other ant they came across, assumed formation in a long line that climbed up one of the legs of the dressing table. There were dishes in which the legs of the dressing table stood. Little, thick china dishes, or were they glass? As big as the almost closed palm of a grownup’s hand. There had been water in these; once. There was still the crust of what once had been water. Now, just a mixture of crystalline deposit and dust and dead ants ......and the army of ants flowing, marching over their defunct comrades.

My mother complained to the owner of the Hotel.

“We never had this sort of thing in India,” she protested.

The owner, the little manager, looked at my mother. He picked up one of the tiny insects and crushed it between his index finger and his thumb. Then he brought his fingers to his nose and smelt them.

He turned his head to the side, looked to the ceiling, sniffed his fingers again and then wiped them on the sleeve of his jacket.

Then, with a deference or politeness born more of boredom than of manners, offered a vague explanation.

“They are argentine ants, Madam,” he said dismissively. And for him that was good enough. Argentine ants… Therefore nothing could be done.

Argentina

Argentina. Just the word, drew pictures in my mind.

When we had lived in Dehu Road, on the Bombay Poona Road, there had been newsreels at the cinema. Grainy newsreels of strange people who walked very quickly. Men in strange uniforms. Uniforms like the men in funny films… black and white pictures of men in uniform… But where we were in Dehu Road, was the India of the British Raj, and in that India, all the white men were in uniform. The uniforms there were khaki, and the men, like my father, the officers, looked very much the same as the other men. The only difference was the officers had stars and emblems on their shoulders to show that they were different. But these men wore white and silly uniforms. I had seen the men on the cinema screen, and I had pieces of their pictures in my OXO tin.





Argentine ants… Those words reminded me of people driving, driving in big black cars, at speed, through streets filled with people. And the people were all shouting. And the men were walking so quickly. And a lady with blonde hair, among all those men with their sleekly oiled heads. And the lady with the blonde hair was raising her hands like a china doll… like the beggars in the streets of Poona. Like the little girl in the doorway outside the big shop in Poona… the little girl without any feet.



I loved that cinema. We went once a week and watched films about ladies and men who sang to each other. And newsreels about “Snow in Blighty”, and newsreels about people running through the streets in Bombay and the lady in Argentina who shouted and looked happy and angry all at once… and she held both her hands in the air like a doll.

Binkie Taylor had a doll that held her hands just the same way as the lady in Argentina. I saw the doll when we went to visit Binkie Taylor’s Mummy and Daddy once. She had left the doll on the veranda and I saw it with its hands up in the air, sitting on its own little cane chair.

And sometimes, sometimes the film stopped and a white hole with a bubbly black circle around it came on the screen, and then we all had to leave our seats and go outside and all the Indians started shouting and laughing and whistling because the man in the projection box had gone to sleep and the film had caught fire again.


And the films would go on and on and I usually went to sleep towards the end. And at the end there was a bit when we all had to stand up and listen while a lot of Indian people on the screen sang “Jai Hind, Jai Hind” and they all looked happy and laughing and the Indian flag came next... And I stood up very straight. I stood up very straight because that India flag was my flag, because I was an Indian, and I was a Baluch, and the song was about my country.

Jai Hind” means “Great India” or “Victory to India”, and I used to sing it deep inside me, even when I was walking by myself.

And Daddy and Mummy stood up as well, but Daddy looked a little bit cross, and sometimes I could see he was crying a little bit, just a little bit, but I didn’t know why.

And then everyone clapped, and after that, we went home.

And Bearer and Khansama taught me to say, “Jai Hind” which also means, “Hello”, and put my hands together, and I wasn’t to say, “Salaam,” when I met anyone, any more.

Bearer’s name was Krishna, and I loved him even more than I loved Mummy and Daddy, I think.


Then, after a while, we all went back in and they turned the lights off and the film started again. I loved sitting there and imagining that I could fly over the tops of the people and then they would look up at me and not bother about watching the films. We always sat upstairs and the Indian men and ladies sat downstairs. I can’t remember many ladies, but the men made a lot of noise and they laughed at all the funny bits.

Next day, I would go to the back door of the cinema, and in a big black iron drum near the door, I would find bits of the film that had caught fire the night before. And my friend, Lal, the projectionist, who had gone to sleep and let it all happen, would let me take bits of the film home with me... if I asked nicely. And they smelt bitter, but you could see the ladies and the men who sang to each other… and once, only once, I found a picture of Mrs Peron in a white fur jacket… and she looked so pretty… even though she had lines between her teeth in the newspaper photographs. And I put it with the other bits of cinema film, in my OXO tin. But I lost it; I lost the picture of Mrs Peron in the white fur jacket, although I didn’t lose the pictures of the men in uniforms like the men in funny films… black and white pictures of men in uniform.


Little sections of transparent film with black and white pictures of foreign men in a foreign country.

And I had been given those pieces of film when I had gone to the cinema in the day time, when I went out with Krishna, or when I just walked to the end of the road where our bungalow was at number fourteen.

The cinema was very close to the swimming baths and just on the corner was a big stone platform where they used to have funeral pyres, and at one end, there was a little platform where the wife of the man would stand when her husband was being burned. Krishna told me that a long, long time ago, the lady would jump onto her husband's burning body on the funeral pyre and that was dreadful.

I asked Krishna why, and he said, “Because.”

The paper bag that had contained the sherbet, the triangular paper bag that I had torn apart, the straw through which I had sucked the sherbet… I had torn that bag apart, licked off all the sherbet, and there it now lay, in the wastepaper basket beside the bed, and the ants feasted on the paper. Had I left any of the sugar, the sherbet? Argentine ants. The lady’s name was Mrs Peron… Eva Peron. Peron. Driving through those streets, and the vast crowds waving and laughing and shouting. The lady on the balcony with her hands in the air, shouting at the crowds below. That was why they couldn’t be stopped. Argentine ants. The lady on the balcony. The fast cars.

The man letting himself drop down from the frame of a blown out window in a foreign city. The burning pieces of cloth or flags and photographs in the street. The old lady crying and walking towards the camera.

Argentine ants.

Argentina.

Argentine ants. It seemed logical to me. It still does.

Give it a name, and there the explanation must rest.

More by this Author


Comments 41 comments

snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

I think when the woman throws herself (or is thrown) on her husband's funeral pyre it is called Sati. I wrote an essay on this once a very long time ago. I have to come back to your story a few more times to absorb this fascinating colourful tale of culture shock, shifts and awe, but I'm liking it that you remember so much about the sweets. Regards, snakeslane can't wait to listen to the videos. You've done it again Lawns.


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

hi Twilight...

I come into your comment box humbled by your excellent work here.

I have been a lifelong student of history and, as an American, the story you have told here was related in many a lecture and seminar class. Although the professors certainly attempted to add the human flavor to the tale...their accounts typically fell flat in that regard.

The provision of your vision as you walked through the formalized endings of colonialism is stunning. The way you transition me from the hotel in Perth to the halls of power in Buenos Aries (on the back of Argentine ants no less) has me speechless. I can't thank you enough for sharing this.

Thomas


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Thank you for being my first... again, Snakeslane Yes, there were culture shocks, and (personally) disastrous, and long lasting effects.

The practice was called suttee. And yes, there was a suttee stone at the end of our road.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Thank you, Thomas, you are too kind. Yes, I was a very confused little boy. I thought everything was set in stone, and suddenly I was uprooted and put into an alien landscape;... one more alien landscape than I was prepared for and found that many of those I loved were left behind and that I had to make more connections.

It is no surprise that everything; even my voice and accent is such a mish mash of differing influences.


Sunnie Day 5 years ago

Dear Ian

You have done such a wonderful job capturing your beautiful childhood. It is one that is rich, fascinating, and colorful. I could not hardly wait for you to post this as I knew it was going to be great! I was right! Thank you for sharing your memories. I loved the nursery rhymes so much..You sing quite good..:) I am sadden that your family had to leave your country but then life does have a way of taking us on a whole different journey. I hope you will oontinue to share your childhood with us. It was so enjoyable in everyway.

Thank you again,

Love,

Sunnie


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

I'd dozed off for several hours after John walked over to show me his final draft of his bulletin and we ended up watching a movie before I drove him home. Sunday is his BIG day and he hadn't planned to stay so late, so I offered to drive him. I sat down at the computer and collapsed into sleep.

So I have been late getting here to read your story. I considered waiting till morning but just couldn't wait! How glad I am that I didn't!

I savored every word, picture, video and most of all, the vivid word-pictures you've painted to bring it all to life. I feel as though I've been along on your somewhat cooked, roundabout journey through childhood in so many, such disparate places on this globe, related as you felt them, heard the sounds of, even smelled each place and time, populated by such special people who impressed your life so deeply. I knew you had deep affiliation with India and its people, but now I've literally felt it too. And the image of the Argentine ants is etched on my brain. The candy cane covered with them. . . oh, my. The visual of the bits of film you collected and treasured which are so . . . Ian!

Pearls, Ian. You've created perfectly strung pearls for us. The only problem with it is that it's too short and so, it's over too soon. My eyes are damp as they have been all through reading it. I may never be quite the same again. This has been a most amazing week for me, with the DMA Gaultier exhibit; - and now, this! My dear, it's literature. Hugs and thank you for sharing this vital part of yourself and your life.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Bless you, Sunnie. It has been fun up to now, and I think, somewhat cathartic, but there are parts which I cannot think about, far less write about without becoming very tearful.

A couple of years ago, my friend the writer, Hanifa Deen (Look her up, anybody, she's an amazing writer) was interviewing me with the chance of writing a chapter in one of her books... about the bombings by Islamic terrorists in London 7/7. I started to relate the tale I mentioned above, and she had to turn of the recorder and terminate the interview because I got so distresses. Perhaps if I write it (eventually) it will lay my ghosts.

Enough said. I said more than I aimed to, but it's done now.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Just reading " And the image of the Argentine ants is etched on my brain. The candy cane covered with them. . . oh, my. The visual of the bits of film you collected and treasured which are so . . . Ian!" tell me that you know me so well, Nellieanna. You are so perceptive. That is why your poetry and your philosophy of life and you, yourself are so special.

From Jean Paul Gaultier to Eva Peron and back and knowing each for its worth.

You've looked deep into my soul and seen that my mind and thoughts are frequently snippets in parenthesis, and yet you accept that and unravel, and still go with the flow.

Hugs, my dear, HuGS.

Ian


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 5 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Good morning Twilight. You have such a cinematic pen. You write these stories and your reader steps, in this instance back in time. We stroll though the ‘sweets shop’, we see the big black cars going by, we see the piece of film burning as the projector jams and the operator sleeps.

You have told us you write slowly. It is more to my eye deliberately and you select a pace and the reader is viewing through your eyes an uncommon history.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Mike, an amazingly well created comment. I am so grateful of that, as it is of you having read my effort in depth. Thank you.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

It's exquisitely poignant - your memories being vivid, haunting and yet difficult for you to remember or relate at times. If there are snippets, that form is part of the reality. Yet you shared them. Hugs.

I'm thinking how well you know me, too, Ian. Yes, I am perceptive, but not invasive. I don't pry. As with other things, I value only what is given willingly. One can't really know if it's otherwise.

I simply look at you now, your flow of beautiful accounts of a fascinating life and I fully accept the fantastic person you are, knowing that all the memories, even bitter ones, - especially involving actual warfare and the horrendous stuff that must go with it and its effects on a sensitive child - have yet brought you to your NOW, where you're admired, respected and loved for the man you are. It sort of chokes me up. There's a kinship about it, somehow, even though our experiences have been so divergent. Handling them seems rather similar.

"From Jean Paul Gaultier to Eva Peron and back and knowing each for its worth." Yes, but the main and abiding one is the person and soul of Ian Dorking Clark. My horizons are stretched and my experience, expanded.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

A fascinating story of your childhood. You say you remember so litlle and yet you do remember a great deal. To begin with it must have been devastating to lose your Ayah who was like a second mother and then to have to settle in a different country and totally different culture must have turned your world upside down.

The imagery you created right through your story took us right there beside you, in the cinema, in the sweetshop and the Argentine ants. You told your story so well

Voting up


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Thank you, Rosemay. You really do make me feel as if every word I have written has been worthwhile. Thank you for taking the time to plough through it all. I had some misgivings at first that it would have been a bit long for some people, but the continuity was essential.

I really appreciate your kind comments.

Ian


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

You got me thinking Twilight Lawns about my own childhood growing up in a 'colony'. Brought back so many memories. I have to come back to give this a proper viewing, reading. I want to take some time with this history. Regards, snakeslane


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

And if anyone can write your own personal history with flair and poetic insight, I am sure it is you.

Go for it, snakeslane.

Actually, I am building up quite a few chapters about the "History that is Me" on HP... maybe I should have linked this one to the others... but I am working on yet another chapter. Prepare yourself for this one with a box of tissues... if I ever finish it.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

Hi Mr Light. I don't know how to link properly, but good idea. Always look forward to your writings. Cheers!


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Nellieanna, I have just been back and read your comments. Read? No! Savoured your comments.

They say that without experience, and without pain and love, whether requited or unrequited makes it easier for an artist. I would not be arrogant enough to claim that crown, but I must admit that I was blessed with an amazing childhood with which to work, if need be, and also blessed with instant recall, which makes it even easier. And then, to put the cherry on top, a mother who loved words and used them exquisitely.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Snakeslane, I have faith in you, As they say, "Go for it!"

Or was it i who said it? regardless, Go (as they say) for it.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

Got to nini baba nini, sooo sweet. What a great idea to record your recitation! Ok, still lots to read here.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

Wow, Twilight Lawns, you were quite the little linguistic prodigy. Laughing now at candy canes and argentine ants, yes! I love it. Your dad sounds like he had a mischievous sense of humour. This is so well written.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

Wanted to add Twilight Lawns, this story made me remember 'Tea' boxes big as crates, well actually were light weight wooden crates our family used for packing up our household in our moves. You must have had those too. Maybe you will mention here, haven't got that far.


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Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Snakeslane, as soon as you said "tea boxes" I could see them and smell them. About a cubic metre or more made from plywood; bound with thin metal strips along the twelve edges (Maths teacher comes out here). They always had some loose, very dark tea leaves in the bottom and smelt so lovely. I am not a tea drinker, but I loved the small of those boxes. I can remember stuff being packed in them and being shipped abroad in them.

Lovely memories. Thank you.


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Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Actually you jogged my memory about packing crates and boxes... thank you. When I go back in time and get to describing leaving India (There are so many "chapters" in this tale that I think I am going to be stoned to death by irritated hubbers) I must remember the Red Dragon!!!


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snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

I really enjoyed this whole presentation Twilight Lawns. The Eva Peron black and white film footage and music gave so much insight and atmosphere of the times. And you quietly slip in some horrific details that a child could not comprehend. Things that were just there 'Because' they were. My childhood film viewing days were very much the same. I recall the film catching fire, or melting anyway. Thanks for these awesome memories. Really enjoyed all of it.


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Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Snakeslane, my dear friend, I have found that by writing this and the preceding stories concerning my childhood that is has "laid a few ghosts". There were certain incidents and feeling that needed to be brought out into the light, and by doing so, I experienced some discomfort, but not the discomfort I am experiencing right now, as I plough through some memories of that transition period between when I was a happy little boy in my native land, and suddenly, a displaced refugee.

I know I had a home to go to and wasn’t living on the street, or in a camp, but the feeling of not being with my own people upset me terribly. Even now, as I write this reply to you, tears are brimming and I actually still feel some of that pain.


Sunnie Day 5 years ago

Good Morning, I have come to bring you a Thanksgiving present..wait...it is somewhere...oh man..where did I put it..oh yes..here it is...It is a song for you just to brighten your day..I hope you like it! This is one of my favorites..Hope you are smiling..

http://youtu.be/uTlPPqPodiA

For you I'll fly

When I live alone

I dream of a horizon

with no words.

In the shadow and amongst lights

for my sight it's all black

if you are not with me . . . here.

You

in your world

separated from mine by an abyss.

Hear

call me

I'll fly

to your distant world.

For you I'll fly.

wait for me I'll arrive

my trip's end is you

for living it we two.

For you I'll fly

by skies and seas

up to your love.

Opening the eyes at last

with you I'll live

When you are far

I dream of an horizon

with no words.

And I know that you are always there, there

a moon made for me

always illuminated for me

because of me, because of me, because of me . . . *

For you I'll fly

wait for me I'll arrive

my trip's end is you

with you I'll live.

For you I'll fly

by skies and seas

up to your love.

Opening the eyes at last

with you I'll live.

For you I'll fly

by skies and seas

up to your love.

Opening the eyes at last

with you I'll live.

For you I'll fly . . .


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Thank you, Sunnie. I really like this. I heard it some time back and thought how lovely and emotional it was. And the words, I never could work out what they were, especially with my limited Italian.

Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

I thought of you today when I was in my bedroom and there, lying on the daybed was a long winter coat... long enough for this six foot one and a half individual I was when I was young and agile. But it would cost a bit to send it to your special man in the blanket.

You are such a good person... and so is your dear friend, Mike.

Bless you both,

Ian

x


Sunnie Day 5 years ago

Hello Ian,

I just love this song..it touches my heart so..I did a hub about it too..just a short one to share the song..

Thank you so much for your thoughts..Such a sweet one about the coat but by the time you mail it with the high cost of shipping I am sure I could buy a few..I have mailed a couple boxes lately and it is so expensive, It was truly an honor to do that for the man in the blanket..Mike got the turkey and it was so wonderful to see their faces..I saw him yesterday walking the kids to school in his new coat..Happy Thanksgiving..

Love,

Sunnie XOXO


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 5 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Ian. Happy Thanksgiving. The trash cans are by the curb. I am fifty hubs behind in my reading, but thought I'd stop by and say hello here first.


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Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Hi Mike. I want to read a blow by blow account of the thanksgiving Turkey. You wonderful people, you.


nemanjaboskov profile image

nemanjaboskov 4 years ago from Serbia

This was absolutely fascinating. As you have already said, I knew... I knew this was going to be a great story, but never did I expect to be so drawn in from the first word to the very last. This is a wonderful piece of your memory taken from your brain and transferred here with such incredible feelings and sentiments. I hate to be repetitive, as many have said the same thing in the comments above, but I really felt like I was there with you. In India, Australia, Argentina with Eva Peron, with Krishna the Bearer and everything was so, so beautiful and so, so real.

I mentioned yesterday that I am at the moment stuck in a new town, without yet joining the local library, and not having been able to bring a lot of books with me. I did bring a few, but due to the fact that we have been here for about four months now, those books were read some three months ago. So, HubPages is now taking the place of some of the writers I would be reading. Therefore, you, me dear friend Ian, are probably taking the place of writers such as Lajos Zilahy (don't know if you have heard of him, but he is a great writer), Ernest Hemingway, Anton Chekhov and a couple of more of my currently favorite writers... This might sound like an illogical list of names, but it is a list of writers I would be enjoying right now if I had the chance (or I will be enjoying as soon as I join the library...this is getting old :)

So, this is the point - I admire those writers very much, and they are worthy of admiration. However, I am finding your writings as good as anything they could offer me right now - in some cases maybe even better.

You are a great writer and a great person, and I am honored to be your follower, reader and a friend...

Thank you very much for this tale, Ian!


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 4 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

What can I say to that, but a very humble thank you.

I am overwhelmed, Nemanja. Overwhelmed.I have only read 'The Old Man and the Sea' and 'For Whom the Bells Tolls' of Hemingway, but I loved both.

I tend to read in "writers" and devour everything of a particular writer, and I must admit that Steinbeck, Waugh, and Prokosch are my absolute favourites. However, I am, as I have already admitted, an incredibly slow reader, and an equally slow writer, so I must admit to too few books, and too few stories.

But after your incredibly kind comments here, I feel inspired to write some more.


nemanjaboskov profile image

nemanjaboskov 4 years ago from Serbia

I sincerely hope that you will find the time and energy to write a lot more.

I haven't yet had the chance to read Steinbeck, but I certainly intend to. On the other hand, my favorite Hemingway's novel is 'The Garden of Eden', and I really recommend it to you.

It is not a very long book, so being a slow reader will not be a problem :)


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 4 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Thank you for the recommendation, Nemanja. I shall see if I can find it. I like reading second hand books (in good condition) there's something magical about holding a book in my hands and wondering who last read it, and how did they enjoy it.

Please read Steinbeck. My favourite... Nah!... one of my favourites is 'East of Eden'. It is a magnificent book.


kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

What a lovely story, Ian, sad, yet profound. I loved your videos because your voice makes them so personal. And as I said before I love your voice (who doesn't?) and your way of narrating.

All stories are personal, but told/rather read by the author makes them much more intimate. I thought that it would have been delightful to actually hear you reading the whole thing.

The style reminded me of an ocean breeze, coming and going and very calming.

Childhood memories can be sweet and can be very disturbing for many reasons - I would not speculate about yours, you know them better.

I was surprised to learn that on top of your adventures, traveling from one place to another whether you have actually been, Argentine left such an impression.

Argentine played a role, maybe because Evita Peron was an actress and a talented one - all this drama did not only have an effect on you (a child!), but on the whole country. Don't we all love drama? And the video with a song about Evita in the end? Such a pleasure!

But your story is so ... heart-felt and touching that I cannot do it any justice with my lame comment. I can only watch in admiration - your gift for words, your gift of senses and your tenderness and ability to tell a story as if you preserved that inner child. I think you did.

A challenge that few of us can conquer.

We get old.

We get older.

We forget.

We distort.

We lie.

To ourselves and others.

Knowingly.

Most of the time not.

We kill our pains and our memories.

Such is life.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 4 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

Svetlana, no matter how many times I read your comments on my work or on anybody else's I am humbled by your perception your use of language, your empathy, your compassion.

Thank you for making this hub, and many others, so much more relevant to me and to those who may be lucky enough to stumble across your elegant words, and take them in, in all of their beauty.

Svetlana, if I were ever to write a book... Oops! If I ever were to publish a book, I would want you to write, not just the blurb for the dust cover, but a prologue or a whatever it is called... you would do it so well.

Thank you, my friend.

Ian


kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Dear Ian, I am touched and flattered by your words.

I certainly do not see myself the way you portrayed me.

I was writing a response in my head, but I don't think it was appropriate. It ran along those lines: "I don't like what I write, blah..." While the sentiment is true, I don't want to spoil the moment.

I would be honoured to write whatever you want me to write, a prologue or anything else... I would be thrilled to have your published book and especially if it was an audiobook so I can always listen to your voice.

You are my bridge and my connection to the writing world. I will never forget that you encouraged me to stay and continue writing on HP. Regardless of its quality which is a judgment call and even my judgment changes with my mood and not only, I have went with the writing obsession far enough to be told

that I have a writer's voice

and I feel that I explored this "obsession" far enough not to be obsessed with it anymore. One of the passions that I pursued and I can be satisfied with the result. I can do it or not do it.

What is next? I don't know. I thought there was a moment of transformation and, yes, it was, but that transformation brought me to yet another stage and I stand in front of the "undefined" challenges with a puzzled look on my face.

My memories flooded my head, I think I daydream almost 24/7 and that is why your article resonated so strongly. Your voice, your story, the different places without too many details, dreamlike quality to it, poetic, nostalgic impressionism of it all...

I have never been to India, but I have seen too many Indian films, so the words and even the sounds of the language wake up something - not a memory - an echo of a memory - and a few words - douneeya (world), aja (come), haseena (beautiful)

Come, the beautiful world

Come, the beauty of the world

Come, the world of beauty

I am just putting blocks together. Like a child.


kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Dear Ian, I don't know what Evita Peron liked.

I like this singer - Carlos Gardel and even though there is another song that I like more (Sentimental Milonga), but this tango seems to suit the mood (my mood and the melody of your article the way I see or hear it)

"Volver" (To return)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdSnNHErabQ&feature...

(if you don't want to follow the link, you can type "Carlos Gardel volver" in the youtube)

and these are (this is ?) the lyrics

beautiful

=========

I imagine the flickering

of the lights that in the distance

will be marking my return.

They're the same that lit,

with their pale reflections,

deep hours of pain

And even though I didn't want to come back,

you always return to your first love

The tranquil street where the echo said

yours is her life, yours is her love,

under the mocking gaze of the stars

that, with indifference, today see me return.

To return

with withered face,

the snows of time

have whitened my temples.

To feel... that life is a puff of wind,

that twenty years is nothing,

that the feverish look,

wandering in the shadow,

looks for you and names you.

To live...

with the soul clutched

to a sweet memory

that I cry once again

I am afraid of the encounter

with the past that returns

to confront my life

I am afraid of the nights

that, filled with memories,

shackle my dreams.

But the traveler that flees

sooner or later stops his walking

And although forgetfulness, which destroys all,

has killed my old dream,

I keep concealed a humble hope

that is my heart's whole fortune.

To live... with the soul clutched

to a sweet memory

that I cry once again


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 4 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

I have yet to hear the song, but the lyrics are stunning.

Thank you. I feel inspired to write again... and I haven't done any of that for weeks.


SilentReed profile image

SilentReed 3 years ago from Philippines

I had to look up "Baluchistan" as I was wondering why your father called you a Baluch. Is it a soldier's admiration for a fellow warrior from the Steppes of Central Asia? How do they compare with the famed Nepalese Gurkha whose regiment serve with the British Indian Army. In the Indo-Pakistani war they were victorious over a Baluch regiment in East Pakistan.

Your youth was spend in most interesting times in history. It must have been a culture shock when you arrived in Australia ( being a native "Indian":) I have some understanding of the attraction you have for Evita who champion the cause of the oppressed and discriminated. With the financial difficulties and social inequality facing a majority of the world population, we are also living in "interesting times" today. The global ruling elite have used racial, religious and political difference to divide, conquer and rule. We are so malleable that we have come to accept the status quo as a way of life. A video I saw recently http://www.upworthy.com/the-absolute-best-clip-abo...

makes a striking statement of how only by forming a world union, can the common worker finally be a true participant in the decisions of how the wealth of the world is distributed. Like the descamisados "Argentine ants" swarming over the 1% that comprise the world's ruling class.

As to your invitation to finish the ongoing saga of the residents of Twilight Lawns, your comment about the possibility of my having look over your shoulders to second guest where the story plot was heading, reminded me of how much I hate backseat drivers.:) Contrition will now confine me and my future comments on the remarkable scenery and let you do the driving...er, writing.:)


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Twilight Lawns 3 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. Author

SilentReed, the Baluch are a very honest, proud people, but that is not why my father referred to me as a Baluch. It was just geography, not sentiment. Yes I was a very confused little boy. Children, I have found, are "colour blind until they have ethnic differences pointed out to them, Simple.I have no love of the unions in this country. The unions, pre Margaret Thatcher, had a strangle hold on the UK that was stifling any progress. I have always Socialist for many years, but last time I voted for the Conservatives. Now I am wondering if anybody in Government knows what he is doing.

I am publishing another minuscule "Chapter" of 'Whatever happened to Lettice Rogers-Allbody' very soon, but I am in the middle of some very serious litigation right now and my mind isn't really up to it.

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