Span 37

Journal of the South Pacific Assoc for Cwlth Lit and Language Studies
Number 37, 1993
Yorga Wangi:
Postcolonialism and Feminism

Edited by Anne Brewster, Marion Campbell, Ann McGuire, Kathryn Trees

Defiant

Helen Lockyer

ABORIGINAL POLICE AID

Police Aide Number 13. A position in society. A place where I can feel proud of who I am. A job. One that pays well. I've come a long way from the days on the station. A position from which I can see my family through the good times and the bad. A place to feel proud of myself. But, also a place to feel shame for my role. The place of a police aid is in catch twenty-two. The place of in between black and white. A place where no one really wants to be. A coconut. Brown outside but white inside. Called that name by both sides of the fence. Don't they know I've been put here to help? To try and work out the problems of my people. Problems with coping in the white man's world. My position is not seen as good by all. I can only try and do my job.

* * *

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Times were very hard in the past. Station owners were cruel in more ways than one when it came to Aborigines. Aboriginal employees were totally controlled. Naming children became a matter which the station owners took on, to give Aborigines a European sense of identity.

Cider!

Sherry!

Adams!

Johnnie Walker!


An identity which relates to alcohol. A cruel way to name human-beings.

* * *

A VICTIM OF GOVERNMENT POLICY

She was a lonely soul. A woman deprived of her five children. Those people had no bloody right to send her children away. Was it her fault that she gave birth to children with fair skin? They were her flesh and blood. How could those people take them away? Without knowing her. Without knowing the hardships she had to endure. What gave them the right to interfere in her life? She would have survived quite well on her own. There was family willing to help her. How would those people like it if their children were stolen away while they were busy inside? They'd be jumping up and down and screaming from the roof tops about the injustice. Aboriginal people couldn't do that. They had no voice to scream out for help. They were the victims of the white society which imposed itself on them. Victims of Government policy. Government people who thought they knew what Aboriginal peopled needed. Could they have known the great sadness which was to follow? Aboriginal people all over the country not knowing who they are. Aboriginal mothers all over the country not knowing where their children are. Some people got to go back and find their roots. Others weren't so lucky. She was left to mourn the loss of her children. She died before they were sent back.

* * *

YOUNG ABORIGINAL MUM

She was only twenty-four when she came to live with us. A young woman, suddenly lumbered with five step-kids. She didn't know how to deal with us. The only child she had died in a freak accident. Her partner rolled on the baby accidentally while they slept and smothered it. No one is to blame for that. Just another accident. Now her body doesn't have the will to conceive again. Maybe it knew too well the hidden dangers of motherhood. With all her troubles we didn't help much. We were different to the other kids she may have known. Town kids are different to reserve kids. A fact of life growing up in a small country town. Although we too are Aboriginal, she was so different to us. Her full blood seemed to set her apart. Set us apart, too. We weren't quite up to the standard of an Aborigine. We were the outsiders in the setting. Not quite black and not quite white. We didn't fit in.

* * *

He was different again. Full blood with a drop of Afghan. The Afghani came from his Grandfather who was a camel driver in the outback. However, the Afghan portion of him is not relevant. It is just another fact of life. He is accepted by his peers as an Aboriginal. Therefore, he is Aboriginal.

* * *

RESPONSIBILITY

She is the stronghold of the family. As the youngest of five it seems so unfair to place so much pressure on her young shoulders. She too has a life to live. Family to cope with. The daily running of a household is work enough, with a four year old. The phone rings. She looks at it nervously, not wanting to touch it. Maybe it has happened. Maybe this is the phone call which will turn her life inside out. Lighting a cigarette she reaches for the phone. Relief. It isn't them.

* * *

THE LONE MAN

He's a loner. Always has been and always will be. A private person. He doesn't want to communicate much at all. In fact he's got an unlisted number. He doesn't like people knowing too much about his moves. The main reason why he lives out in the country is to avoid people's gaze. Away from the hustle of city life. One day it all became too much for him, so he packed up and left. He didn't tell too many people about his plans. He just up and left within a matter of hours. Rather a strange sort of bloke. Used to spend most of his time stroking his beard while looking past you. If you tried to strike up conversation he would remain still and silent. Many a man would shake his head and walk away. They were wasting their time. I guess he felt they were wasting his time too. His life and his time are his. Private. Too private to share or talk about.

* * *

DEFIANT

He's the one who goes against the grain. Always doing or saying something wrong. Crossing his friends, when he leaves debts unpaid. Crossing strangers, and receiving black eyes. Crossing the law for daring to look them in the eye! A true free spirit. Old enough to know better. Skilful enough to keep everyone thinking. He likes to play games with your mind. Sometimes the conversation gets twisted around so much that you become confused by your own words. He takes particular delight in his ability to do that. His eyes are black pools. Piercing you, and daring you to challenge him.

* * *

LIFE IN A SMALL COUNTRY TOWN, ANYWHERE IN AUSTRALIA

Ah! Pension day. The best day of the week. A day in which you can go down town. Mix with the other people of the town. Maybe even score a few drinks from someone who has received their cheque. Me, I don't get that. The social security mob cut me off for cheating them. Something about cheating the system. How can a black fella know they are cheating the system? They have a system to suit them and a system to suit us. What about the system which we've had for many years? Doesn't that count? My family come to stay sometimes. I don't have to let the bloody world know what's going on in my family. My business is mine. Private. What they want to know from me. I don't care what they do with their lives. Who they have in their house is their own business. Why don't they just leave me to mine? Anyway, these little words aren't going to change anything. They cut me off and so now I got to survive in the best way I know how. Check out the rellies for a loan. Someone always comes through with something for me. I'll get by!

* * *

JUVENILE

I'm scared. All alone. Not knowing what the darkness will bring. I've heard stories of people who don't survive the night. Seconds, minutes, hours pass by. I've lost track of the time. Someone please come for me. My reason for doing it was 'friends'. They made me do it. Now it's me in here. ME who has to stand up for all of them. Those who wouldn't stand by me when they had the chance. They are gutless. THEY are my friends. If only I could turn back the hours of this night. It would not be me in here. It would be one of them. One of them would be doin' time for my FRIENDS.

* * *

FREEDOM!

"Hey you guys!" His hands went to his mouth to whistle. They turned around to see who it was. Instantly their faces lit up. Can it really be him? They didn't expect to see him for some time.
"When did you get out bro'?" asked Jimmy.
"Did they let you out early?" asked another.
Ralph hung his head in shame. Although it was good to be back, he felt uneasy facing the old gang again. He hadn't forgotten the reason why he had to go away. They didn't know the pain and suffering he experienced while in that place. The place he didn't even want to give a name to. It held too many bad memories for him. Pacing like a caged animal. Eating sleeping and rising to the sound of an unfriendly voice. Those people didn't want to know you. They had a job to do, and you were the job. Most of the guys in there were okay. There's a strong bond between men in a place like that. They all knew their time had to be done. Regardless of their guilt or innocence. He strongly believed his stay was unnecessary. He knew he had been framed for it. Why didn't anyone believe him when he pleaded innocent? The system had failed him. The bloody system had failed most of the guys inside. They didn't know why they were there. Some of them were stuck inside for life.
"Hey, Ralph!" cried Warren. "We'll go out on the town, just like the old days."
Ralph turned away. He didn't want no night out. That is exactly the same way in which he found himself taken away and put inside.
"No more boys," he replied. "I'm gonna take it easy for a while. Let's just sit and yarn for a while."

* * *

VICTIM OF RACISM

I awoke in the hospital. I'm lucky to have woke up at all. Another black fella like me didn't get to wake up. Louis Johnson. He was out on his birthday. Me, I was out hitch-hiking to the next town for my daughter's birthday. I didn't quite make it to the party. I'll admit that I was drunk at the time. A bottle of JD in my hand. That's not important though. The reason for this story is to let you know one of the untold stories of us Aborigines. Because someone didn't like the colour of my skin they thought they'd deal with me their way. They decided to swerve off the road where I was sitting. I woke up in hospital and I was told that I was being sent to Perth. I've been here in the city for some time now. This place is called Shenton Park. Rehabilitation they call it. Don't know when I'll get to go back home for good. Hope it's soon. I'm getting homesick now. Bored laying around. I want to get back to my job. Anyway I can thank someone for looking after me that night. Someone from the other side was watching. I was luckier than Louis. They took his life. Me, they only took my leg.

* * *

NEARLY FINISHED

"Hullo, what you doin' here?" he asked in a weary voice.
She was nervous, knowing that he'd be a little annoyed at her.
"I just come this way to see how you're going," she replied.
"What, you think a man's dying to come all this way?" he questioned.
She knew he'd feel this way about her coming. She had to think of a quick reply. "No not just for you. I come this way to go fishing. While I was here I thought I'd check you out."
He looked to his other daughter's face. She was quick to let him know her position of the innocent in this scenario.
"Don't look at me. I told her that you'd be okay, but she still come."
His eyes focused back on the girl by his bed.
"Where's the kids then?"
"I had to leave them back there for school. I'll bring them up Christmas time to see you," she replied.
"Okay. That'll be good. I'll see them then."
He closed his eyes. They'd get no more talk out of him today. The monitoring tone of the heart machine reminded them of the seriousness of his condition. There was nothing they could do but wait and see. It was all up to him if he wanted to live. They looked at each other and instinctively knew they should go. He'd let them know he wanted to rest for now. Out in the corridor the Sister in charge of the ward stood checking some charts. She gave a sympathetic smile as they passed by. When they got out to the car they were silent. One wanted to cry but she knew she shouldn't. The younger read her older sister's silence.
"We'll just have to wait and see what the morning brings." She said reassuringly, "I'm sure he'll pull through."
"Hm," was all she got in reply.
"You know what he's like. All front you know. That's just the way he is. I know he was glad to see you, sis. We'll come back tomorrow and see him."
They both thought of tomorrow. Would he be there when they returned?

* * *

I REMEMBER

I remember, Aunt Louise at Sister Kate's. Breaking my leg while she was on holiday, the measles, needles and pain, my little brother in a cot, playing with spiders, Christmas spiders' webs, sun showers, being told to be quiet, a lot, all of the time, loneliness, sad times, fun times, the train at the zoo, the merry-go-round, the paddock at the home, the cow's head at kindy, picking lillies and cow dung, Mr Ashton and the circus.
I remember man on the moon.

* * *

I remember going home. Dad and the station. Fun times down by the river. I remember being teased and told I thought I was white. I remember a lot of things. I remember to forget most of them.

Curtin University of Technology


New: 13 December, 1996 | Now: 20 April, 2015