Extracts from ‘It all went terribly wrong’

“That’s a great prospect,” he thought to himself with silent glee. He was peering through the convenient slit in the curtains across the bay window. There she was – a sight to behold. Solidly built, languishing on the sofa with her eyes closed. What was uplifting was that she was nude. In the soft pinkish light, she looked delicious. On a warm night, her nudity was unexceptionable.”

“He sneaked up on the woman silently. Her long blonde hair further cushioned her head. Bending over her from behind, he clamped a hand over her mouth. Her soft lips were parted. With the other hand, he grabbed her by the throat. Then it all went terribly wrong. He heard a terrible scream. It had burst from his brain. It had then worked its way to his lungs and then to his throat. Blindly, he rushed out of the room.”

“He found himself in the master bedroom. In the soft green light, he saw yet another unclad body. But this one was different. It did not attract him as had the other dead one. A huge knife handle was sticking out of the back of the male body. This time he heard no scream.”

“Still running wildly, with the testosterone now replaced by bile rising into his throat, he found an exit. It was the side door. He rushed out, only to trip over the dead body of a very large dog. “It all went terribly wrong” was his thought as he crashed to the ground. As he fell, his head hit a concrete pillar. As he lost consciousness, he felt a strange sense of gratitude; the dog could not bite him.”

“In the meanwhile, a neighbor had rung the police. She was an elderly woman, made slight by wear and tear. She was in poor health, with weak eyes, but with excellent hearing. She had told the police that she had heard screams from next door. … … The latter were screams of joy, she had said to the police. Even in her present physical condition, she was able to remember her own experiences. For memory is not a function of age but of significance.”

“The police finally arrived. They usually do. … … Unsurprisingly, he tripped over the dead dog in the dark. As he fell, his revolver was discharged accidentally. The bullet hit the man in black just as he was trying to get up.”

” The ghosts, seeing all and hearing all, including private human thoughts, giggled to themselves with silent glee as they glided away gracefully to that gargantuan garden for ghosts.”

(This is one of the short, short stories in my book of fiction ‘Pithy Perspectives.’)










‘The Dance of Destiny’ by Raja Arasa RATNAM – Overview


Chapter  1  –  The upheaval

Covers the attack by the Japanese on Malaya in Dec 1941, the surprising retreat of British and Australian troops, the Japanese military Occupation begun in early 1942, and life under the Japanese until 1945.  Sub-headings are: a casual contact; a speedy withdrawal; avoiding the bombs; life under the Japanese.  This last sub-heading is further broken down to: the early days; the latter days; the final days; a retrospect.

The retrospect highlights the corruption of Christian colonialism, Japanese military brutality, the starvation of the people and, for my family and the surrounding neighbourhood, a reign of terror imposed for a period by a gang of communist anti-Japanese (so they claimed as they carried out some killing of civilians).

Chapter  2  –  Back in time

Describes in detail the peaceful progressive life of an immigrant family from Ceylon in the context of the British administration before the Japanese Occupation.  Sub-headings are: origins; boyhood; the way we lived.  Highlights the religious and cultural tolerance of people of diverse origins, and the way we all lived.

Chapter  3  –  Forward in time

With the defeat of Japan, Malaya became focused on the future, on freedom from foreign rule.  The author’s life, however, falls apart.  Yet, there is a glimmer of light ahead.  After a short flare of hope, the author’s life again appears doomed, when his Anglo-Australian wife rejects him on his return to Australia.  This leaves him in a societal and geographical limbo.  A quotation from the Upanishads indicates the author’s optimism-larded realism. 

Sub-headings are: a new beginning; the descent to doom; keeping afloat; Quo Vadis.  The end is dramatic: the reader, like the author, is left in suspense.


Chapter  1  –  Quo Vadis

The author restates his dilemma, but now within the context of family and tribal origins and background.  He draws together the many strands of Destiny-derived influences.  These suggest that he is to belong to Australia.  Yet, there he was, stranded at a kerbside in the city of Melbourne on a cold winter’s morning in 1953.  Reconciliation with his wife offers a future, but in a nation of white supremacists and colonial arrogance.

Chapter  2  –  Memories of White Australia

As necessary stage-setting background, the author recounts his disastrous life in Australia between 1948 and 1952.  The country and people of Australia, as perceived by the author in that period, are presented as further relevant background.  The insights he has gained, the lessons learned, and his obvious respect for Australia’s ‘fair-go’ ethos ready him for his precarious future.

Chapter  3  –  A failed takeoff

In spite of a tremendous effort, involving a substantial denial of sleep over four years, the author is unable to find appropriate graduate employment.  He is a foreigner, and a coloured one as well, as made clear to him.  He has to move to the national capital (a small town set in a desert) to become a public servant.  Beggars cannot be choosers!

Chapter  4  –  The trek to the new world

The sub-headings ‘The launching’ and ‘Settling in’ describe the author’s multifarious experiences, especially his contributory exposure to a range of significant facets of society in the national capital.  He has an interesting life, being involved in an unusually wide range of societal issues.  With his second wife, he builds his family, and becomes integrated into the nation (as the spirit world might have expected).

Then, having  his career path overtly blocked because (as again made clear to him) he is “not one of us”, he moves on.

Chapter  5  –  The forks in the road

There are 2 forks here, the first highlighting the maturation of Australia through its policies on immigrant settlement (of a diverse intake) and citizenship enhancement, leading to an evolving national identity.

The second fork reflects the widening gulf between the Asian values relating to family and respect for one’s elders, and the individualism of the Ultra-West, those nations created by immigrants.  The author decries the alienation overtaking the nation, essentially through the breakdown of the nuclear family.

The author provides adequate detail on both forks, based upon his knowledge and personal experience.

Chapter  6  –  Ultimate Reality

In this chapter the author gathers together all the threads of his life experiences, and ties them into a spiritually coherent philosophy of human existence.  The path available is clearly upward.

Overview :  The nature, role and impact of Destiny are woven lightly through the whole MS.  In much the same way, a personal narrative is set casually in each chapter in the context of relevant geography, history, sociology, politics and philosophy.  Official policies pertinent to each segment of the narrative give additional depth and some colour.

The embellishments, in a story-telling approach, are not easily compartmentalised within each chapter; instead, they float in and out, often with a glancing touch.

Having completed his responsibilities to family and society, he now awaits, in mental and spiritual peace, his return to that Way Station; there he hopes to expand his learning.


The fall of Singapore

Seventy-five years ago, the great British Empire abdicated its responsibility for protecting its colonial subjects in Malaya (which included the island of Singapore). At the age of 13, my boyhood ended. For almost 4 years, my family and I lived in semi-starvation, and some fear, under a Japanese military occupation.

The stress contributed to the premature death of my father (at 47); my 3 uncles also experienced early death. For most of that Occupation, I lived a lonely unhappy life, away from my family.

Our colonial masters took a hiding from ”short, squinty barbarians” (words allegedly uttered by the English). For weeks, 11 children aged 13 to 2, and their young mothers, watched from a rubber estate as British military trucks rolled south in an unending stream. The little ones used to wave to the troops – who naturally waved back.

I was old enough to wonder why the British were rushing to Singapore. All that the Japanese had to do, I thought, was to cut off the water supply from the mainland. I did not know that the intention of the fast withdrawal was to escape by sea. Some did. Most reportedly did not.

The Japanese were clever. Just as they had landed on the north-east coast of Malaya without significant challenge, by moving through mangrove swamps, they had invaded Singapore by bypassing the causeway. As well, while they chased the British (and Australian?) troops down the highway on the west coast of Malaya, the latter would reportedly arrive at some road junctions only to find a few Japanese waiting for them. Presumably, these Japanese had cycled their way through the rubber estates adjoining the trunk road.

When 2 large British warships were sunk off the east coast, we knew that the British were finished. We were then not to know that Japan would, single-handedly, effectively end the colonial rule of most of Asia by the French, Dutch, and British. When the Europeans reluctantly left during the post-war period, they presumably expressed regret that they had not had the time to teach the ‘natives’ how to govern themselves. Quaintly, the last Governor of Hong Kong has been quoted as actually saying something to that effect – after 99 years of control.

Read ‘Singapore Burning’ by Colin Smith for an interesting portrayal of the way the mighty fell; and some strange behaviour by the rubber barons.

My own experiences and observations are set out in depth in my memoir ‘The Dance of Destiny’. Extracts will be published as posts on this site, to be copied to Facebook and to my book pages on amazon.com.

First impressions of Black Australia (4)

“The attitude of Australian whites to their indigene is bifurcated. There are, firstly, the lamp lighters and flag bearers. These are the humanitarians. Colonial values do not cloud their perceptions. They look forward, not to the past. They support reconciliation (a more accurate word might be conciliation) and efforts to have the viability of, and the respect shown to, the Aboriginal people raised to that of the rest of the Australian people. These include the honest people who recognise the ‘first nation’ status of the indigene. They seek to have fellow non-indigenous Australians become more aware of the history, cultural values and traditions, art, environmental wisdom, and spirituality of the Aborigines.

Then, there is that majority (a large number of whom have told me about their feelings), with their soul-destroying perceptions of the indigene. This is a grab-bag filled with an interesting assortment of human failings. First, there are the greedy and the rapacious, who may be the cultural descendants of some of the founding fathers, and their protectors in government. Then there are the intellectually-deprived, with their retinal after-image of the white coloniser’s cultural and racial superiority. These are followed by the emotionally damaged fear-filled, lacking the confidence to relate to those not like themselves.  Those afflicted with subconscious guilt about the terrible things done to the inoffensive indigene by their predecessors, not all of whom were linked to them genetically, are also found in this grab-bag. One can sympathise with these.  Those who deny the invasion and conquest of terra Australis, by choosing to believe in the terra nullius myth of their forefathers, are the most intriguing.

A few years after the initial ‘discovery’ by Captain Cook, it was apparently known that the indigenes not only occupied the land and used it with economic purpose, but also (according to the highly respected Dr.Coombs) “… lived in clan or tribal groups, that each group had a homeland with known boundaries, and that they took their name from their district, and rarely moved outside it.”  It was also known that they had, and applied, firm rules about trespass, kinship ties, marriage, child rearing and other matters, the hallmarks of an organised society; that they had a “habit of obedience” to their rulers and leaders, a hallmark of a political society; and that they had an ordered ceremonial life, reflecting the sharing of a spiritual vision, a hallmark of a civilisation. Apparently, they also had their own zodiac, which guided their activities. Their artistic records are also well known and respected.

It has now been accepted that the indigenes did not cede any of their land. As the famous poet Oodjaroo Noonuccal said, “We are but custodians of the land”. Whilst the settlers saw themselves at war, and killed to acquire land, officialdom (later supported by local jurists) preferred occupation to conquest. Occupation follows discovery, of a presumed empty land. How were the natives to establish ownership without a Titles Office?  Because the morally political Australian rejected the idea of an invasion, a Senate Committee came up, in the early 1980s, with prescription. This apparently applies when there is no clear title to sovereignty by way of treaty, occupation or conquest. An extended occupation, and an exercise of sovereignty were apparently enough to vest title in the Crown.

But, prescription requires a show of authority on the one side, and acquiescence on the other (says Prof. Reynolds, the renowned contributor to the nation’s enlightenment on this black subject). Since the natives never acquiesced to anything, voluntary abandonment was claimed. The Senate’s clever semantic exercise seemed to accept that being killed or driven away is tantamount to voluntary abandonment! A prominent white Australian sociologist reminded me that cities such as Melbourne and Sydney represented the most effective sites of ethnic cleansing; and that every fence in Australia encloses land that was once the soul, or the shared possession of a particular group of Aborigines.”

The title of this chapter in my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ is ‘To have a dream.’ My belief is that another generation or two of Anglo-Australians have to join their ancestors before the Australian indigene gets his fair share of the sunlight. In the meantime, the official waffle continues.


Imposing one’s values upon others

Recently, reportedly, Australia asked the Philippines Government to dispense with the death penalty. Why? Isn’t the Philippines an independent, democratic, and Christian nation? Just like Australia? Have we asked the USA the same question? Would we dare to do so?

Not long ago, when Indonesia executed 2 Australians convicted of involvement in the illegal drug trade, those opposed to the death penalty made a terrible fuss. Since there is an underlay in Australia of antipathy to ‘Muslim’ Indonesia – in spite of its wonderful policy of Panchasila – one could legitimately wonder if white supremacy was the trigger.

Before that, when Malaysia had applied the death penalty to an Australian convicted of involvement in the illegal drug trade, reportedly, a senior politician in Australia had made intemperate utterances against the Malaysian government. So, what’s new?

Now, we have some politicians and priests who, allegedly, wish to interfere in Indonesia’s sovereignty; they seek to separate Irian Jaya from the rest of a nation with vast ethnic and religious diversity. Interestingly, according to a senior academic I met in Malaysia in the 1970s, there had been an effort to create a brown-skinned, Christian nation between Australia and the rest of Indonesia. The intention had been to establish a buffer to protect Australia from the ‘hordes from the north.’ Today, it might be just the anti-Muslim busybodies at work.

Then, when the member nations of ASEAN showed signs of a capitalistic independence from the West, the latter formed APEC. An Australian, a Japanese, and an American each claimed independent paternity. Was APEC intended to ‘smother’ ASEAN? Yet APEC apparently did not contribute to protecting those nations of south-east Asia being targeted by those intending to bring down their economies and currencies.

Prof. Krugman’s advice to Malaysia to prevent any outflow of portfolio capital saved that nation. The IMF was subsequently accused of promoting a policy which would have caused the Indonesian peoples great pain. Was neo-colonialism the ghost in this policy advice?

Australia has also gone into battle zones behind the USA. Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria seem to be chosen playgrounds by those Westerners who cannot just mind their own business.

We in Australia are not a chosen people. We cannot claim to be a nation of exceptionalism either. We continue to be a dependent nation. When China and the nations surrounding the South China Sea reach an accord, we risk being left isolated at the edge of Asia, and also the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The legacy of European colonial empires

What was the legacy of colonialism? In British Malaya, now Malaysia and Singapore, the positive gains were: the English language, now the language of international rela­tions; Western democracy (for what that is worth); respect for law and order in the British way (but needing some serious improvements to deliver justice); and a form of mul­ticulturalism which is potentially more equitable than the traditional forms.

Colonialism, allied to slavery, ‘blackbirding,’ contract transfer of labour from one colony to another, and free immigration entry as needed, contributed to the juxtaposi­tion (and some intermingling of genes) of diverse popula­tions and cultures. This did enhance inter-cultural contacts and relations between the peoples affected. Did the colo­nies of the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, Belgian, French and Germans benefit in a similar manner? They were known to be more brutal than the British. Certainly, Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the communist revolution which drove the French out of Indo-China, learned about obtaining independence through revolution during his studies in France.

A cursory scan of some of the better-known empires to see if they offered durable benefits either to the subject peoples or to mankind in general might be of some casual interest. The difficulty inherent in this endeavour is in separating civilisation from empire, the former generally localised but often making a contribution to the future of mankind, the latter often generalised geographically but soon not worthy of remembrance. Civilisations endure. Yet, apart from those of China and India, has there been any substantial long-term continuity of civilisations?

China’s contribution to mankind is the emphasis on good governance, with a passing reference to the Void of the Cosmos. India’s contribution? Metaphysical speculations about the meaning of human existence and its relationship with the Cosmos. The contributions, both artistic and techno­logical, by the empires of old pale into insignificance against the wide range of the contributions of China and India (their current deplorable human rights record notwithstanding).

These are extracts from my book ‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’

The excesses of exceptionalism

A claim of national exceptionalism has infused the global political scene. It is a version of the ‘chosen people.’ We now have a Western nation which, since about 70 years ago, has claimed the right to extend its influence over the nations of Central and South America to intervene in the affairs of nations all over the globe. Its approaches are multifarious. Its rationale (or rationalisation) reflects tactical creativity, backed by high-sounding concepts implying lofty moral intent.

Seemingly allied to (unidentified) local nations with possibly less-than-lofty intent, and ambitious conglomerations seeking to occupy high chairs, an effort to damage axes-of-evil nations or leaders has led to terrible tragedy in the Middle East. What has been the gain to this nation claiming to be exceptional and to its allies?

On the contrary, the penultimate claim of exceptionalism, by a cluster of nations in Europe – the ‘innately’ superior ‘white race’ colonising a great swathe of each continent over half a millennium – achieved substantial material advantages to these nations, with a side-benefit of accruing many coloured souls to the bosom of Christ.

Christian colonialism, however, destroyed or damaged many societies all over the world, and left a legacy of ongoing tribal conflict everywhere. The European nations have now effectively returned to their own borders. Their recent efforts to achieve a united Europe are, interestingly, being undermined by the odd member-nation seeking the benefits of communalism while exercising the rights of individualism.

There is also a re-vitalised Asian nation now claiming to be exceptional. It relies upon ‘traditional’ ownership of adjoining lands and sea. Were this nation to adopt a ‘pay-back’ stance in relation to those Western nations (plus Japan) for the depredations caused by the latter over a couple of recent centuries, the exceptionalism claims of both nations will be constrained.

After all, there can be only one large mastiff in any paddock. With two, there will be competition, with terrible collateral damage most probable. The current debacle in Syria and Iraq will look like a sandpit squabble were there to arise a battle as to whose exceptionalism is bigger.

Empires do tend to fade into the sunset. Protection for the small nations can, in the meanwhile, be provided by a global governance under the mantle of a tripartite agreement between, say, three powerful nations. Alternatively, a number of agreed spheres of interest may avoid the terrible destruction resulting from the excesses of exceptionalism.

“You people are always … … “

Wow! I remain ‘you people’ after more than half a century of having lived , as an adult, a highly-interactive and contributory life in Australia – which is becoming increasingly colour and culture-blind.

“You people are always having riots over there” (Malaysia/Singapore, my birthplace). The only riot in Malaysia was in 1969; the skirmish in Singapore at about that time was a minor one. Then, a retired war-horse, a Vietnam War veteran, claimed that “You people are always fighting one another over there.” ‘Over there’ was now south-east Asia. Both men were within my social circles. These 2 instances stand out in my memory.

What was their problem? They represented a people which had ‘lorded it’ over the Australian indigene; and did not like ‘uppity’ blacks (Aborigines) and other coloured people (Asians). The traditional ‘tall poppy’ syndrome, manifest in a tendency to cut down any achievers who had risen above their class (in an allegedly classless nation), had now to put down any coloured high-flyers. The underpinning psychological demons rattling the comfort zones of those who did not want ‘them’ to become ‘one of us’ is pretty obvious. Get over it, Guys!

More interestingly, some Vietnam War veterans (incredibly) want to commemorate, on Vietnamese soil, a battle which the Vietnamese lost to the Aussies. While this story always refers to the small number of Aussie out-numbered troops involved, little is written about the heavy artillery bombardment which was responsible for the many Vietnamese killed.

As well, it is a fact that the USA and Australia were driven out of Vietnam by the Viets. These 2 white nations had no business being there. The domino theory was a furphy. South-east Asia was in no danger of being over-run by non-existent communists. There is seemingly an urge by some Aussies now to celebrate a sole victory in a series of lost (and losing) wars since the successes of the war in the Pacific during WW2.

But – to commemorate this win in the land they unsuccessfully invaded? How sensitive!  The arrogance of the colonial-minded Westerner will not, of course, endure. I say this as a known anti-colonial and anti-communist. As my father repeatedly advised, freedom heads the list of human needs.

Is Australia a subservient nation?

I am intrigued by the discrepancy between the indepen­dent stance of the Anglo-Australian worker (originally the bulk of the people) and the obsequiousness/arro­gance of Australian governments. Having been a tram con­ductor, worked in factories and offices, and socialised with all levels of Australian society, I say categorically that this Aussie worker is someone I respect. He is the one who will stop to help you were your car to break down on the street. He stands tall at all times, and encourages immigrants to emulate him.

Contradictorily, Australian governments are subservient, but selectively; originally it was to Mother Britain, later to stepfather USA. Yet, they will throw their weight about in the Pacific (their US-allocated bailiwick), or look askance at the newly independent nations of Asia with foreign faiths. These nations will never bend their necks again … …

What do I mean by subservience? How is it manifest?

Most of us are born into a collective. We are then shaped by that collective, the family. When released into society, we usually live within another collective or two. When we die, we join yet another collective, either below ground or prob­ably in another dimension.

Collectives normally imply a hierarchy, a pecking order of sorts. But … … does that require subservience? In reality, a form of subservience, a degree of subservience, seems ordered; that is, necessitated by the way segments of society are structured or organised. A leaderless society would be an anachronism. … …

The nation I adopted more than five decades ago is a well-fed, but somewhat anxious, polity. It is effectively a satrapy of the USA. Why should that be so? Because of a fear which percolated the national psyche right from the invasion of terra australis by Britain. The nature of this fear? Being sur­rounded by coloured people holding foreign faiths who were clearly ‘not us.’ … …

The Australian nation-to-be once hung on to the apron strings of Mother Britain until the threat by the Japanese led to the Government placing itself voluntarily under the umbrella of step-father USA.

I would therefore prefer Australia to become the next state of the USA. Why so? It is better to be a fourth or fifth cousin than to be a menial, that’s why. Were this to happen, there would arise the following benefits: the republic/mon­archy divide would be resolved to reflect the majority view of the Australian public; since about 85% of us wish to vote directly to elect our president, rather than have the govern­ment choose one for us, the US presidential election process would suit us immensely; since we are happy to fight in any war in which the US is involved, we will not have to pay for the weaponry from the US as we do now; and we will also become less welfare and less foreign capital-dependent, and more enterprising in terms of economic viability.

(The above paragraphs are extracts from Ch. 2 (On Subservience) of “Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society.”) 


Were the planets closer to Earth once?

In historical times, when the planets were described (in mythology) as gods, were they closer to Earth than they are now? Were they described as being at war with one another, because of the terrible exchanges of lightning which reportedly took place? Was this how propitiation of the planets began?

Does this explain the commonality of the pantheons of gods to which all humans paid homage, except that the names of the gods reflected differences in language? Presumably, travellers and mystics contributed to some inter-tribal (inter-cultural) learning; that is, to the diffusion of belief about the Cosmos.

I instance the spread of Hindu beliefs, texts, and practices all the way from India to the South China Sea, and as far as the island of Bali in Indonesia. Even after the spread of Islam to Indonesia, Hinduism’s Ramayana, a most-durable epic, continues to be celebrated (as I discovered) in Bali – and in Buddhist Thailand. Perhaps matters human override matters religious in the realm of guidance for living – as the gods seemed to be at war with one another.

The only way our planets could have been closer to one another is through being pulled out of their normal orbits by a very, very huge intruder from space passing through our solar system. As I wrote in an earlier post, a remnant of a supernova has been held to have been responsible for a number of inconsistent aspects of this system:

  • Pluto, one of Neptune’s moons, pulled into a planetary orbit
  • the ‘equatorial alignment’ of Uranus changed, and its moon damaged
  • Saturn’s moon Chiron pulled away
  • Tiamat, a planet similar to Jupiter and Saturn, with an orbit between these two, believed to have been destroyed by Marduk/Phaeton (the supernova remnant), resulting in an asteroid belt in its place
  • Mars – orbit changed
  • Phaeton ‘rampaged near Earth only some 11,500 years ago’
  • Venus – its rotational spin reversed

(refer Allan & Delair in ‘Cataclysm,’ who relied on ‘Sumerian texts and recent astronomical data’)

This scenario does not, however, imply that the planets were once closer to Earth (as I have read elsewhere). Such proximity could only have occurred during the formative years of the solar system. But then there would have been no humans around. How then did this mythology develop?

The simpler explanation lies in errors in interpretation of ancient mythology. As well, the Sumerians’ writings are far too recent. Another explanation would be that nearby extra-terrestrials (on a Sirius planet?) were witness to this ‘war’.

Phaeton’s passage through the settled solar system is the most likely source of the claim of a celestial war. From our point of view, this event, believed to have occurred at about 11,500 years ago, seems to have coincided with the universal flood. This is believed to have occurred between 11,500 and 13,000 years ago. Phaeton’s rampage would explain this flood too (refer my earlier post).

Another major cosmic catastrophe is expected relatively soon by a barrage of expert researchers – from a variety of causes. We will not be taking our wealth, or theological differences, or any right to rule others, with us; only our soul memories.