Of course, taking on a trade or profession didn’t require aboriginals to
‘escape’ their origins. I remember clearly, the curly haired nurse, whom I
saw regularly when my sister was hospitalised, and who performed with
my mother in the town’s musical production. My young teacher’s aide,
along with other aboriginals, went on to become a teacher.
The real ‘poison’ is vulnerability, caused ostensibly by numbers. Often this
means discrimination. It hurts. It was no fun for me being danced around
and called ‘snowflake’. Ironically I wasn’t aware that the ratio difference
could only be taken advantage of on a base level – the level on which
children exist – and such behaviour was probably rooted in the open
bigotry of some of the white community.
Now I’m living in Canberra, Michael Mansel has been at the head of quite
a public stir lately. I’m only eighteen, and at the risk of sounding selfish –
I hate the distortion of my childhood memories. In one, dust, blood and
sweat figure prominently. Little Gladys pulled out my wobbly tooth with all
the vigour that epitomised her many ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’.
I know that ‘we’ were once just as close to the land – closer to the core of
our existence; but time has been a sterilizing process. This isn’t bad –
though I hope time doesn’t pull ‘them’ completely from their origins. Most of
all, I’d like ‘them’ and ‘we’ to become ‘us’.
I remember the wide, flat plains of inner New South Wales; waking up to
find a kangaroo in the backyard; bushwalks, and the inevitable ‘bindi-eyes’;
the helicopter bringing us food during the flood. I remember visiting friends
on properties; and my friends in town; - the frogs that came out by the
millions when everything was still and quiet – apart from their relentless
croaking. And I remember the broad main street, walled by old buildings –
remnants of days past; and the aborigines with the remnants of their early
culture. It would be silly and idealistic to wish the ‘dreamtime’ back for
them, and what they don’t need is pity. If I could capture and bottle their
essence, that is what I would give. We don’t hear much from those who
have completely integrated, but my memories lead me to believe that what
the activists are most afraid of is losing themselves. Must living as one,
necessitate the complete submergence of two such opposing cultures?
I remember my sixth birthday party. Laughter, games… The total unit and
acceptance between our two races was more than enough to celebrate.
- S. Kelly
St Margaret's News