A Conversation with Pamela Cameron-Clarke
I think I can best answer that question by giving you excerpts from my book, Child of the Raj.
‘I was born in the seventh sign of the zodiac on the seventh day of October in the seventh largest country of the world.
It was a tumultuous era in India. Autumn in Calcutta was like an Indian summer though the days were hot and humid. Tens of thousands were born at the same moment in the same city, in the streets, in the markets, in paddy fields. Their mothers cut them from the womb, tied them firmly to their breasts and continued sowing rice, stooped shoulders working laboriously, sweating blood in the midday sun.’ (Ch 4, p11-The Seventh Sign of the Zodiac)
I opened my eyes each day to a ball of fire in the sky. The crows were cawing and the noisy mynas chattered as they flew from tree to tree. Hot rays of the sun blazed through my blue check window curtains and I smelt the chota hazri wafting from the kitchen doors.
A clatter of cups and saucers from the servants walking down the gravel drive at the back of the house woke me right up. I knew that my small breakfast was on its way. In seconds there was a knock at the door and I acknowledged the bearer, ‘Acha’ (Yes!) as he entered the bedroom with the hot buttered toast, a small delicate china pot of tea and a banana…
…I was living in a remarkable world of brilliant sunsets and extremes of intense summer heat and cold winter days. The monsoons exploded in between seasonal changes and the clouds dropped out of a broody, colourless sky sweeping rain as it cleaned the parched earth…
…My childhood fantasy engulfed my life and soul in the magical city of New Delhi, the capital of India. I was nine years old and aware that there was a constant undercurrent of hate between the two religious warring communities, the Hindus and the Muslims. But this
did not affect me.
I was a child of the Raj. (Ch 1, pp 1-2 – A Touch of India)
Yes, life was so good! I was so contented with loving, caring beautiful parents and beloved servants to look after and protect us. It was a quality, carefree childhood.
Q. Do you follow what is happening in India today? Can you comment?
India today has developed from a population of 292 million in the early century of the 1900s to an estimated 1.22 billion today. Indians are now online; into business opportunities and technology and Bollywood is India’s world-wide exotic attraction on screen.
The poor, starving majority suffer lack of food, ill health and education, and I’m sure they miss my generation of British occupation which brought care and income from employment.
Q. Someone said ‘To write, one must also read, read,read.’ What do you think, and why?
To read, read, read – YES! My mind boggles – words – to reach out for a pen, to jot down thoughts, to inspire. YES we must read to indulge our bodies, souls and minds.
As a child my bookcase was overcrowded with adventure stories, Charles Dickens novels and Shakespeare’s plays. Under my pillow
I hid the romantic weekly and monthly magazines and love stories which we exchanged at school. With the help of a torch I read these secretly in bed at night. Paintings of far-away places hung on my walls. Mostly they were landscapes of England and Europe. One day I would visit and write about these countries. To read added to my desire and inspiration to write a book. I am ecstatic that I have written and self-published my book Child of the Raj.
Q. What was the main motivation for self-publishing ‘Child of the Raj?’
‘Put pen to paper my darling Mother, and we will read all about your extraordinary, fabulous childhood in British India.’
Son Paul was spouting his words of wisdom!
‘It’s not that easy, son.’
‘Yes, Mum,’ piped in daughter Christine, ‘You’ve been a journalist, writer, and editor on newspapers for years – you can do it!’
And I did! It took me ten years of thoughts and memories, and in the last year, tons of motivation to write and to self-publish my book: Child of the Raj.
Q. What brought you to the Gold Coast?
It was an impromptu decision. I flew up to the Gold Coast from Sydney, for a holiday in 2001. I decided to look at real estate for sale in between my relaxing days on the beach.
I put a deposit on a brand new apartment on Chevron Island, then phoned Sydney to tell my daughter Christine. She was horrified.
My next call was to my son Paul. His response was worse.
‘ Are you losing it, Mum?’
But I did it my way, as the song says, and came here to live.
Q. From your point of view have you any suggestions for improving GCWA’s services to members?
I know it would be appreciated by various members of the GCWA if the President and the Committee could take into account that not all members are computer literate. Competitions, invitations and other information could be made available to non-computer owners and users.
Most clubs and associations post a monthly expenditure and balance sheet on the Notice Board at their meetings. A prior announcement of this could be made by the Treasurer. This would be greatly appreciated by Members.
More publicity via popular GCWA monthly group meetings at Libraries and various other venues could result in an increase in paid membership.