Photograph, John Owens.
In 1967 Mauritians voted for independence and we were not British any more. It didnít really bother our family. I was young, working as a teacher at a primary school, and still living with my parents.
But after the election, fighting began between Moslems and Christians. The first day they burned a Christian alive and my brother-in-lawís house was stoned. He was running up and down inside while the children hid in the toilet. There was glass everywhere. Later they escaped and ran to our place and we all got into a taxi and drove to my brotherís place on the high plateau where it was calm and there was no fighting. We could only take a few things with us, leaving most of our belongings behind. After that they ransacked the house.
My father sold our house for peanuts and we came to live with my sister in Australia. I was so happy to leave Mauritius. We literally ran for our lives. I would not like to go back.
We speak French at home but learnt English at school. My great grandparents on my motherís side came from France but my dadís family could be from anywhere, I donít know exactly. My ancestors all came to Mauritius as settlers so it wasnít very hard for us to settle in a new country.
However, Australia is a very different country. Mauritius is a little green island with lots of mountains, palm trees and warm weather. It is like a little paradise. When we arrived in Melbourne we saw suburb after suburb with no mountains and lots of people.
One day we saw new houses being built in Clayton South and thought, hang on, here are new houses not too far from the city. We were living in Caulfield, which is nice but everything is old - outside toilet, old kitchen, old bathroom and very high ceilings. The high fences in Caulfield looked a bit like a prison to me. I prefer the open air.
There are shopping centres in Clayton South and weíve got the hospital now; the uni and so many schools. Itís a very good area.
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