About

005
Welcome to my blog.

Born in Burma, I migrated to Perth over thirty years ago, and completed my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Western Australia. I moved to Canberra in 1971, and married Colin.

I obtained my Diploma in Education at the University of New England and taught at high schools for over a quarter of a century. My time is devoted to writing, reading, gardening, bushwalking, and attending classical opera. Colin gives me every encouragement in my writing.

I belong to the following writing groups:

. Carindale Writers’ Group
. Omega Writers’ Inc.
. Queensland Writers’ Centre.

. Sunshine Coast Literary Association Inc.
. Victoria Point Writers’ Group
. Writers in the Ruff

My story Hunger, an excerpt from my memoir See No Evil: story of a war child, was short-listed for the 2013 Redlitzer Writing Competition and published in the 2013 Redlitzer Anthology and two of my short stories, The Seasons of Life and A Year in India, in the Carindale Writers’ Group Seasons’ Anthology.

The Seasons of Life

Unique are the seasons of life. Their lengths vary; sometimes cut short; sometimes, painfully prolonged.
Spring
How well I recall my Spring of life. A child of five, happy and free. Our ten-year-old brother towered above us, ready to fend off harm. The next, a year younger, laughed, pranced and sang. A source of joy. Then my sister. Two years and six months my senior, my dearest companion held a wealth of knowledge.
I trusted they’d be near forever.
Another sister arrived.
Then bombs tore us from home and Japanese invaders ended the Spring of our lives.
Summer
Summer was harsh. Our bodies scarcely grew in size except to swell and swell. Beriberi.
With bellies like pregnant women and feet twice their normal size, we thought we’d burst like balloons…
But still we were together.
My brothers, with boyish glee, roamed the countryside. Adventure beckoned. They ran wild in search of food and fun. The hot sun beat down upon them but on they tramped …
My mother, my sisters and I stayed home. The days passed. Our strength ebbed away. We longed for food – and slept.
My first taste of death.
Rats fed on the dead – dead birds, dead animals, dead people. Disease spread; entered our home and stole my sister. Plague.
My baby sister burned with fever; her body sprouted sores. No doctor. No medicine. For days and nights she burned. Smallpox.
Miraculously, she recovered.
The eldest shivered and quivered even in the hell of summer. Drank the bitter herbs we picked – but couldn’t eat. Emaciated and exhausted, he sank down, his strength sapped. Malaria.
Weak and tired. No food to eat. We lay in bed, awaiting death …
Far off we heard – not harps of angels greeting us – but sounds of bagpipes on the plains. It lashed our bodies like a whip. We rose in answer to the call.
Soldiers marched, kilts swayed, kettledrums flourished and pipers led the way. Hope and freedom followed in their wake.
My brother rose, like a ghost, cured by a dose of mepacrine. Saved – we thought.
Still in the summer of our lives, we moved back to the bombed-out city. We lived like squatters in a store, but went to school and learned much more …
Three years since the bagpipers played, God called the eldest to his grave.
The second death.
Years passed. Britain left and Burma bled. Anarchy raged. One by one we fled.
I remained. Alone, but poised to leave.
Finally, I stretched my wings and flew away; my studies incomplete. Torn asunder from kith and kin, what lay in wait, Down Under?
I drank freedom and breathed joy. With open arms love beckoned. I nestled there; content.
Autumn
Now in the autumn of my years, I listen to the songs of birds, inhale the fragrance of a flower with my dearest friend and lover.
Each day we watch the sun rise and set. It’s autumn. Will it last forever?
Winter must come, but when it does, we’ll meet the future hand-in-hand as we depart this glorious land.

A Synopsis of my memoir: See No Evil: story of a warchild

4 responses to “About

  1. Jonathan Green

    Dear Hazel,
    I wondered whether you might be the same Hazel Barker who wrote a marvellous short story called “Checkmate” which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in the early 1980s. I heard it as a young child, and have been trying to track it down ever since. It is mentioned here: http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/564ff8155b3f49bfb6f07d68cf0f3b56.

    In any event, I have greatly enjoyed reading your blog. My mother was born in Burma and fled the advancing Japanese with her sister, Rose. Her father’s own escape was recorded in a book called “Muddy Exodus”, itself broadcast on Radio 4.

    Best Wishes,

    Jonathan Green.

    • Dear Jonathan,
      So glad you enjoyed the reading. I must try to get hold of your grandfather’s book Muddy Exodus.
      I’m sure it will be interesting reading. I, too, have written my memoirs of the war and our escape from Burma, but I’m still looking for a publisher.

      I cannot take credit to having written Checkmate Hope you succeed in tracking down the author.

      Regards,
      Hazel Barker

  2. lexie beardmore

    Dear Hazel
    I was thrilled to find your blog. I have never forgotten our friendship. I am not a great internet or email social media user being more of a people person. If you do gmail me I only ask that I only receive text and personal photographs from your own cameras as so many people send pictures from unknown websites and it ends up costing me a lot of money to have my technology fixed.
    I see you are an avid orchid grower. Laurie and I have been involved with heritage roses for about 20 years something he still loves. We have an autumn and spring rose show each year and I usually volunteer but this year will probably only be at the spring one.
    I have just written you a letter to post by snail mail but I saw this website and decided to send this as well.
    love from your old friend from WA
    Lexie

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