Wednesday, 2 May 2012



WORDS  |   Will Runting

Hearing the loud screams of excited, drunk men a block away, in a park, reminds me of when I was a kid. Not in the drunk or excited sense but in the same tradition of playing cricket on ANZAC Day.

When we were younger, my sister, my neighbours and I used to always play backyard cricket, in the street, on ANZAC Day. I say backyard, because it was those rules. We didn’t have much room, so hitting the ball over anyone’s fence was six-and-out. One-hand-one-bounce was a viable method of getting someone out and tipsy or if-you-hit-it-you-have-to-run was also in play. It was like a tradition we forced on ourselves. One bored ANZAC Day we just decided it’d be fun to play cricket. Every year after that, we thought we’d do the same thing.

Apart from the fun we’d have, it also a very solemn day, even for us kids. At around lunchtime we’d always stop our cricket game and have a minute silence. None of us had watches and our minute of silence usually lasted about five, but I remember every year, after the minute was up, one person would say. “That’s it.” And yet we would still remain speechless. Not even looking each other in the eyes. We all felt those same feelings of remembrance and mourning. And then we’d try to resume our game, all of us feeling less energetic and joyous going into the second game.

Surprisingly, after we grew apart and stopped playing cricket together, I can’t say I’ve felt the same on ANZAC Day. Sure, I’ve attended dawn services, and I’ve heard guest speakers talking about their relatives in the war, but for some reason, those moments as a kid sunk in more. I used to think about the actual people who would’ve been in the war. They would’ve been good friends like I was with my neighbours and had fun. But then I thought how in an instant, they could be dead. Their friend could be dead. And it was what happened. I thought about, how if we were born back then we’d be forced to join the forces. It was different each year, and I can’t quite write down the exact feelings and thoughts that went through my mind as a child but I know that I’ve never felt that connection with the Gallipoli men like I did back then. 

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