Writing these lines early in my 73rd year, I realise how time has changed my perception of things past. Memories have faded, perspectives have altered, and many of my values and beliefs have been cut adrift from their once secure moorings, changing forever my inner landscape. As my life evolves, I see my past through different eyes, making things seem not as they are but as I am. And if my past was not as I see it now, that is something I must accept as I talk about it in the following pages.
The first four chapters will deal with:
- My first eight years at home in Saharanpur, a railway junction in the plains below the Himalaya Mountains in India,
- The next two in Oak Grove Junior School some 60 miles north-east in the Himalayas,
- The next seven in Oak Grove Boys’ School, and
- The next two in Chelmsford Training College, Murree, over 400 miles north-west in another part of the Himalayas.
The following years will be recounted in imagined letters to a very dear friend, Mrs Phyllis Losasso (‘Sasso’). I met Sasso in my 20th year when I was teaching at Allen Memorial School, Mussoorie, and she in her 43rd year was matron of the sister-school Wynberg, across the hill from Allen. The letters will deal with my one year at Allen, and four in the navy. In Western Australia they’ll cover my six years at Scotch College, two in my wrought-iron business, ten at Guildford Grammar, and three at Governor Stirling High, all in the Perth area. In Alberta, they’ll cover my sixteen years at Cardston High, followed by my years of retirement. The letters, dated at the start of the year, will deal with the year gone by, till I’m up to date. Presenting the past through letters has certain advantages over the usual way of journal keeping. Chief among these are their more relaxed tone and, for me, the vicarious experience of writing to someone who, so dear to me, I in fact wrote to only a couple of times.
These letters are my long overdue dedication to her, the ‘Sasso’ of my youth. About sixteen years ago I began a journal, some sixty pages in long hand. I seem to have lost the inclination to stay with it, and kept putting off writing, making all manner of excuses for my inaction. ‘One day,’ I promised myself, ‘when I get a computer I’ll start again, relieved of the sweat of editing the old-fashioned way.’ I knew only too well I was procrastinating, for it goes without saying that writers the world over and from time immemorial have done without such aids. Colleen McCullough, a few years ago on TV, talking about her novel The Thorn Birds, was quite insistent that, since her spelling was good she had no use for a computer. Was she missing the point, or could it be she was making one of her own: that professionals don’t need to edit their work the way the rest of us do? For that reason alone I think a computer is worth having if one has it in mind to write.
When I’m up to date with my journal I would like to rewrite it in a way that my family and friends will want to read it. For their sakes I will call it, quite simply, ‘Growing up in India’.
– M.E.B. February 1996. Mesa, Arizona.
This content has been reproduced from a blog posted by Maurice Brayley on November 27, 2006. The link to the original post has been removed in accordance with his family’s wishes.