|Written by Erin Pizzey||Sunday, July 22, 2007 7:32 AM|
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My parents, born at the turning of the twentieth century, joined the thousands of British civil servants, mercenaries and missionaries who invaded China. The incoming hordes of mercenaries and adventurers brought with them guns, alcohol, and new diseases. They also bought with them western materialism, western medicine, and western religions. My father was a junior civil servant in the chancery of the British Consulate in Peking when he met my mother who worked as a nurse in the Peking Medical Union.
In those days, men posted to China were sent into the heart of the country to live in homes where they learned their first thousand Mandarin characters. My father not only learned to speak Mandarin very quickly but he also learned to understand the culture of his host’s family and of the country. When he came back to Peking, he was 39 years old and looking for a wife. My mother, frightened of being ’left on the shelf’ married him out of desperation.
Three things happened on February 19th, 1939. Mao Zedong was on his long march from the north of China to bring his new religion ‘communism’ to the world. The Japanese were marching toward Shanghai and we were born in a German hospital in Tsingtao to a beautiful red headed, cold, narcissistic woman who called herself Pat Carney.
I was born into chaos, violence and suffering. The Japanese invaded Shanghai and at the age of four and a half, when I left Shanghai on one of the last boats out of China, I still remember the sound of the bombs falling on the city.
I am now seventy years old and I feel it is time to sit down and trace the events that shaped my life and I wonder, had I not been born into such turmoil, could I have led a peaceful, calm, quiet existence? Did the violence and the early loss of my home and all the people I loved create a need in me to seek out dramatic and tumultuous situations? Certainly, in the years to come I saw many bewildered, frightened children come into my refuge. They too were traumatised by the violence and sexual abuse they experienced in the hands of parents who were supposed to love and cherish their children. I too experienced my mother’s violence and her dislike of me. Her vision of my future was that I was born to be hanged.
Copyright © 2007 Erin Pizzey, All Rights Reserved
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