20180223 Hazel Barker A3 poster (A2820473) (1)
Meet our Members Today’s interview is with Hazel Barker Question 1: Tell us three things about who you are and where you come from. 1. I was born in Burma of an Iranian Muslim father and an English Catholic mother, and have lived in Australia for 50 years. 2. I’ve always loved reading – especially […]
Chapter 1 Post-war Rangoon
Dad lied to us. The Second World War was over, the long wait for freedom at an end. Government employees were summoned to Rangoon, and my father appointed Assistant Registrar and Personal Secretary to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. No accommodation was available as many homes had been bombed during the war, so he was ordered to leave us behind at Mandalay. After suffering the lash of his tongue and feeling his blows, we regarded the separation from him as a glimpse of heaven. Our relief was to be shortlived. In late 1946 Dad wrote to Mum telling her to join him in Rangoon as a home now awaited us. All our happiness vanished. Reluctantly, we took the train to Rangoon, only to find there was no house. Seven of us had to live in a single-roomed warehouse within the grounds of the High Court. He deliberately lied so that we would have to leave Mandalay and be reunited with him. * During the Japanese invasion of Burma in 1941, we had evacuated upcountry to Katha, in North Burma. Japanese troops pushed the British army from Burma into India, and it seemed we had been deserted. Nourished on books during those terrible years of the war, and having three siblings older than me, I acquired a mind mature for my age.
A devout Catholic, Mum had been attracted by my father’s captivating ways and fallen for him—even though he was a Muslim. All his charm disappeared once she signed the marriage certificate. What could she do? If she ran away, society would shun her. So, with the birth of each child, the chains on her tightened until they completely weighed her down. Now she found herself with a broken heart.
Buy a copy of the prequel Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child and you’ll enjoy The Sides of Heaven much more even though it is a stand alone.
Heaven Tempers the Wind: Story of a War Child,
in the Caleb Competition of 2017
The Sides of Heaven
Hazel’s memoir is set during the turbulent period following the Second World War and the subsequent civil war.
From a family’s endurance, a mother’s faith and a young girl’s traumatic journey through her teenage years, ultimately springs a story of redemption and hope. Hazel yearns for freedom, yet chooses to enter a convent; she yearns for her family, yet spreads her wings for Australia
The Sides of Heaven is the sequel to Heaven Tempers the Wind: Story of a War Child, which was shortlisted in the Australia and New Zealand-wide CALEB Competition of 2017.