Jill Marion Parris

Banishing the Boogieman: Politic is personal

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Suddenly Peter grabbed center stage. This memory is vivid. My parents went out for dinner. I sat cross-legged on the couch doing homework, playing an Elvis Presley record. I looked at him, now twelve years. He was hunched over a pile of clothes in the middle of Mum's Persian rug. "What are you doing?" Peter had a lighted match in his hand and was moving it towards his new school uniform. I ran at him, yelling "Stop!" His face contorted, he grabbed the poker and now I ran from the house. Peter followed wielding the poker. "I'll get you . .. Don't interfere!" Then he shrieked like a wounded animal. I stopped transfixed. "Help!" I was responsible for my younger brother but how could I be when he terrified me so. He was the embodiment of all that was horrifying in our family. How could we forget the Holocaust when Peter was both it's victim and incarnation. In essence this book is a tale of how Nazism curtailed my parents' life opportunities and of how the trauma of the Holocaust impacted my parents, my brother and myself. Was Peter's illness inevitable or the result of my parents' loss and dislocation as European Jews? Was there anything I did – as a child or a young adult – that contributed to my younger brother's struggles or impeded his life-long, unsuccessful bid for wholeness? A simple story highlights the impact of Nazism and Apartheid on my life and foreshadows my quest to help others affected by violence, mental illness and the asylum seeker issues now prevalent in Australia. My final conclusion, politics is personal.
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272 printed pages
Original publication
2015

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