It wasn’t Anzac Day ten years ago when I was waiting for my train on the southbound platform at Wollstonecraft station on Sydney’s North Shore. But I’ll remember Anzac Day to you now because there was a kindly looking old man in a Digger’s hat selling paper poppies from a box that day.
It was a pretty November morning, and the jacarandas were littering the platform, as is usual that time of the year. Maybe it was the sight of the purple flowers that prompted me to go buy a red paper one from the old Digger.
When I did, he asked me where I was from. And when I said ‘Singapore’, he said to me in Hokkien, ‘Li Ho Boh?’ (How are you?), and ‘Selamat Pagi’, in Malay.
Pity my train came uncharacteristically on time, or else I would’ve loved to have talked at length about his time in Singapore.
That Digger’s story is part of our history, and like a lot of things to do with our history, we’ve got to rummage around our spanking new National Libraries’ archives/vaults/depositories before we can hear these important voices. I second mr brown’s proposal to bring these voices to the fore. It will be interesting. And at the very least, we’ll see that our history isn’t mired geographically.