A PLACE OF BIRTH
‘ All I Really Want To Do’ screamed American girls in tight trousers in the Cher’s pop hit, while American boys in the US navy uniform were leaving for Vietnam.
Peter Seller’s chart hit: ‘ A Hard Days Night’ was sang all over the Britain celebrating the life of former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill who died this year.
‘ The Carnival Is Over’ sang sadly Perth teenagers with the Seekers remembering the last man to be hanged in Western Australia last year, Eric Edgar Cooke, WA’s most notorious serial killer who brought fear to this careless backwater capital city. People locked their door and listened to Sir Robert Menzies revelation on the radio that Australia send 800 soldiers to fight in Vietnam. “ The takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia and all the countries…” said the Prime Minister.
With the discovery of huge iron ore deposits in WA’s Pilbara region by flying prospector Lang Hancock touched off unprecedented mining development which brought the first Perth boom.
I was just born and I had no idea that I end up in this most isolated capital city forty years later when the Claremont mysterious murders will again bring fear to Perth people. Australian soldiers will be sent again to fight in Iraq and the Prime Minister John Howard would use the Menzies words: “ The takeover of Iraq would stop a direct military threat to Australia and all the countries.” Another unprecedented mining development will bring another Perth boom. The iron magnate Lang Hancock would be long dead but his name will still attract newspaper headings because of the infamous inheritance court fight between his first and second wives.
I was just born to the Soviet Union Eastern block, where tensions and the fear of nuclear war saw the beginning of the Cold War with United States. Both sides kept increasing their military strength and Russia kept building walls and patrolled borders to protect its East from ‘the corrupted West’. Just four years ago Russia built the first infamous Berlin Wall to separate East and West Berlin and prevent refugees from crossing. Many who tried to find the truth about the West, many who tried to flee were shot. I was just born and I had no idea that it takes me thirty years to find out the truth about the West. I realized that the life in the West is not so horrifying like the communists wanted us to believe but also not so glorifying like we wanted to believe. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Maybe it is my time to describe the life in the East during and at the end of the communist regime. My perception of this place, which is also not so horrifying like the West believed but also not so glorifying like the communist wanted us to believe. The truth is also somewhere in the middle.“ Russia maya…” marched Slovak girls in identical blue skirts, white shirts and red scarves, while boys saluted while lifting up the Soviet Union’s red flag on a small square just opposite the window of my Great grandmother’s house. My parents sat with Grandparents, my auntie and uncle in a small kitchen listening to the radio and praising Soviet president Nikita Khrushchev who three years ago stopped the US to start the real nuclear war against us over Cuba. After that there was a short announcement, a little drill what to do in the case of the real chemical or biological warfare.
I was two months old peacefully sleeping in my cot when the loudspeaker at the nearby lamp-post started regular military marches and patriotic songs.
People stopped working in the vineyards and listened proudly to the anniversary broadcast about our national hero Major Yuri Gagarin, the first man fired into space four years ago. He was fired into orbit in a space ship named Vostok /East/ and circled the earth for about two hours. It was April 13, 1965 and girls in flowery dresses and women in village scarves left the communal fields to join in marches. Children from the village Primary School filled the village square in their identical uniforms happy to miss another day of learning. Teachers shouted the orders and children changed suddenly to the little soldiers and saluted to the rising Soviet Union’s red flag. Men and boys in grey working trousers and blue shirts left work in the nearby train station and the communal field machinery repair hall to hide into the village pub and celebrate the Russian cosmonaut’s successful flight with a pint of a beer, wine and spirit.
There will be quarreling and fights in every house tonight as wives preparing dinners and feeding home livestock will be angry with their late husbands who will retaliate under the influence of alcohol. Tomorrow the wives will be sharing the blue eyes and complaints over the picked fences while husbands leave grudgingly late for work with blank expressions and headaches. I cried that day because of the noise and the disturbance to my routine. I cried as if I knew that drills, loudspeakers, marches, patriotic songs, domestic quarrels and gossips over fences will be part of my childhood for the next five years.