Goodbye Burma is a fictionalised account of how my family, the Hazlewoods, left Burma. I am gradually putting together their life in Burma over one hundred and twenty years, before their evacuation in 1942. Over that time they established themselves as successful traders, first in Moulmein (Mawlamyine), in Monkey Point, Rangoon (Yangon), Bassein (Pathein) and finally on the Victoria Lakes (now Inya Lake). They lived in a large house on the lake, off the Dubern Road in Kokine, when Rangoon was bombed in December 1941.
The Hazlewoods in Burma
The author in the grounds of the Inya Lake Hotel, near where the family house stood in 1942.
The house is no longer there. But, looking at the photo, my aunt recalls, ‘That whole promontory was ours. There were stallions running wild there.’
Jo-Jo lit a cigarette. ‘If you can imagine it, darling,’ she said, ‘our house was right on the lake, with steps from the garden which went down to the water’s edge. We were on a sort of promontory, so you could see the lake from three-quarters of the house.’
‘Did you go out on it?’
‘Good Lord, yes. We had three or four boats. I remember there was a dinghy with a sail, which Bobby was always messing about in. There were islands on the lake all dotted around and sometimes my father would decide to have dinner out on one of them. So, before the meal the servants used to go across in the boats, with all the silver and buckets of ice, and lay the food out on a large white tablecloth and then, when it was ready, we would all go over and have the most gorgeous picnics.’
Goodbye Burma, page 73
Read more about the family behind the Goodbye Burma story here