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.