Kunapipi 19 (2) 1997 Full version

Kunapipi, Jul 2015

Rutherford, Anna

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Kunapipi 19 (2) 1997 Full version

Kunapipi 0106-5734 Anna Rutherford 0 Recommended Citation 0 University of Aarhus , Denmark - I I l d l d V N D > I Gl 9 2 : / £ i - ........:..... : . ­ ..., H A~V~Sil Kunapjpj is a tri-annual arts magazine with special but not exclusive emphasis on the new literatures written in English. It a11ns to fulfil the requirements T.S. Eliot beheved a journal should have: to introduce the work of new or little known writers of talent, to prov1de critical eval­ uation of the work of living authors, both famous and unknown, and to be truly international. It publishes creative material and criticism. Articles and reviews on related historical and sociological topics plus film will also be included as well as graphics and photographs. The editor inv1tes creative and scholarly contributions. Manuscripts should be double-spaced with footnotes gathered at the end, should conform to th e MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association) Style Sheet. Wherever possible the submission should be on disc (soft-ware preferably Word for Windows, Wordperfect or Macwrite saved for PC on PC formatted disc) and should be accompanied by a hard copy, please include a short biography, address and email contact if available. ; All correspondence - manuscripts, books for review, enquiries - l should be sent to: ' SUBCRIPTION RATES FOR 1997: Individuals: 1 year: £20 I AUS$50 Institutions: 1 year: £:40 I AUS$100 Please note that if payme nt is made in currencies other than£ sterling, £5 must be added to cover banking costs. Cheques made payable to Kunapipi. Copyright© 1997 Dangaroo Press Thts book is copy righ t Apart from any fair deahng for the purpose of private study, research, cnhCism or rcvtew as permttted under the Copynght Act no part may be reproduced without wntten pernussion [nqutries should be made to the editor. VOLUML XIX NUMBI::R 2, 1997 Editor-in-Chief ANNA RUTHERFORD Editors SHIRLI::Y CIIEW AND DAVID DABYDLLN Editorial Advisors DIANA BRYDON, KI::E TI JUAN CHYI::, ANNE COLLETT, MARGARET DAYMOND, ERNEST K. I::MCNYONU, HELEN GILBERT, GARETI I GRJFFITI fS, ALAMC..IR HASIIMI, ARITHA VAN HERK, ALAN LAWSON, RUSSELL McDOUGALL, HENA MAES­ JELINEK, GANESII MISHRA, ALASTAIR NIVEN, KIRSTEN HOLST PETERSI::N, BRUCE CLUNIES ROSS, PAUL SHARRAD, KIRPAL SJNGll, IILLEN TIFFIN, GI::RRY TURCOTTI::, JAMES WIELAND, RAJIVA WIJESINHA, MARK WILLIAMS, R. ZIIUWARARA. Marketmg SUSAN BURNS Kunapipi is published with assistance from the European branch of the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, the Faculty of Arts and the Centre for Research in Textual and Cultural Studies (CRITACS) at the University of Wollongong, and the Arts Council of England. Cover: 'Refugee' by Jim Jarman. Photo by Sue Moore IN MEMORY OF SIGNE FRITS 1946-1997 Kunapipi refers to the Australian Aboriginal Myth of the Rainbow Serpent which is the symbol both of creativity and regeneration. The journal's emblem is to be found on an Aboriginal shield from the Roper River area of th e Northern Territory in Australia. Photo montage by Peter Lyssiotis EDITORIAL: THE LOSS OF OUR HUMANITY When we discover that there are several cultures instead of just one and consequently at the time when we acknowledge the end of a sort of cultural monopoly, be 11 illusory or real, we are threatened with destruction by our own discovery Suddenly. It becomes possible that there are JUSt others, that we ourselves are an 'other' among others. Paul Ricoeur, History and Truth No-one is different without they have something wrong with them . Patrick White, Clay It is by the failures and misfits of a civilization that o ne can best Judge 1ts weakness. Epigraph to Doris Lessing's The Crass is Singing rhe ultimate test of our worth as a democratic nation is how we treat our most vulnerable and diSadvantaged Su William Deane, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia It is not often I write an editorial for Kunapipi. That is not because of laziness or lack of concern, though I have to admit that both the time factor (to get the journal to press) and the space factor (more pages mean higher printing costs), do play a role. Sometimes I feel constrained like Mrs Touchett in Henry James' novel The Portrait of a Lady, when she said, 'I never know what I mean in my telegrams - especially those I send from America. Clearness is too expensive'. In the case of this editorial I've decided that the issues are too important to lack clarity and so I'm hoping to win the lottery to cover the cost! On this occasion I am breaking with my usual convention because I feet that the issues to be dealt with are too important not to warrant an editorial. Most of them, with the exception of the aborigina l issue, are relevant not only to Australia but to the world in general, and the Western world in particular, and in accordance with the policy of Kunapipi many voices from many countries are included to discuss these issues- aboriginal rights and the stolen generation, Hansonism, racism, migration, in particular Asian migration, refugees, multi-culturalism, the continued rapid and insidious growth of what Jim McClelland calls the llfW world religion, Globalized Economic Rationalism, whose main function seems to transfer the manufacturing industry, that is jobs, from muntries that have a high standard of living to low-wage countries. Nike's sweat shops in the Asian countries were exposed in the Australian papers but it didn't stop an Australian youth being murdered for his new Nike shoes. It is my intention to start with globalization, economic rationalism and dehumanization. This is not because I find the question of racism and taeatrnent of our indigenous population secondary to the other issues. On the contrary. My reason is that I believe that the root cause of all the other evils we are faced with lie within the first group mentioned. To find 1 solution we must find a cause, and having found the cause try, by some Editoridl means, to eradicate it. Impossible - no - nothing's impossible. I personally had a great deal of respect for Mother Teresa and her work but not for her blind adherence to the teachings of the present Pope. You see the question I would ask is, 'Why were they poor?' As Zillah Eisenstein said, 'Since life activity in this society is always in process, in process through power relationships, we must try to understand the process. To understand the process is to understand the way the process may be changed'. The aim of this editorial is to try to provide some reasons why Australia is in the position it is in today. In her 1997 NSW Premier's Literary Award address, Drusilla Modjeska said, 'a time of upheaval and conflict in ways of thinking, and perhaps even of writing, are being challenged and changed in the most painful of ways. I am sure I am not the only one to have had the sensation of waking up to find myself in an Australia I barely recognise. Or rather more to the point, an Australia I would rather not recognise'. Drusilla Modjeska is not alone i11 these thoughts. Because of illness I was unable to attend my mother's funeral. I did however write the eulogy which was read by a friend of mine at the Requiem Mass. Somehow or other I must have felt the winds of change that were soon to affect Australia so violently for I concluded by reminding those present, of the Mayfield of old, that Mayfield of my childhood and of the well-known characters including my mother who had been so much a part of it. 'It was' I said 'a harder world than the one we live in today, but in terms of love, caring and community spirit one could not have found a richer world'. Some readers might say 'she's just growing old (which I am) and sentimentalizing the past'. No I'm not. I am not adverse to change; on the contrary I am a firm believer in John Cardinal Henry Newman's dictum, 'To live is to change'. It's not change that bothers me. It's the changes that have and are continuing to take place that cause me not only great anger but great anguish and shame. I left Australia when I was twenty-one, not because I didn't like it but because I was curious and wanted to see what the rest of the world was like - if it really was like what for us were the almost mythical pictures we had seen in our history books. I had a fair idea of where each country was because I was taught to swim at a very early age by my father in a pool adjacent to Newcastle beach. The pool had a raised concrete map of the world in it, appropriately coloured, and my father would say, 'Now swim from Africa to India'. A swim across the Indian Ocean was quite a swim for a five year old and I'd be pleased when I reached the shore Bombay I suppose. Getting from India to Sri Lanka (Ceylon in those days) was much easier and the swim home to Australia no trouble at all. Actually I think that was the first time 1 questioned the term 'the Far East'. Why far? England was a lot further and required another swimming season before I could struggle to reach its shores. In 1955 I left for Europe, this time by boat, and apart from another short ~ II !he Loss of Our Humanity period in Australia plus many visits I have literally wandered around the world, cunous about other peoples, their cultures and their countries, findmg out the realities of what lay behind those blocks of concrete in that pool. It is little wonder that an academic career led me into post­ colonial studies, an area in which I taught for thirty years at the Uruversity of Aarhus, Denmark. Teaching post-colonial literature meant that I also taught Australian literature and I did my best to teach it warts and alt pointing out all the negative features as well as the positive. I discussed the White Australia Policy, the treatment of the aborigines using texts like Glenys Ward's Wandering Girl, showing Tracey Moffat's film Nice Coloured Girls, and using text by non Anglo-Saxon/Celtic writers such as Judah Waten's Alien Son and Ania Walwicz' 'Wogs'. As I beheve that colonization and feminism are linked, I used Henry Lawson's 'Squeaker's Mate' to show the hypocrisy behind Russell Ward's Australian legend; Kate Grenville's Lilian's Story was a wonderful example of the fate of a person who was not only female but 'different' and there could be no better text than Thea Astley's It's Raining in Mango to put a lie to the old myths just as David Malouf's Remembenng Babylon and Alex Miller's The Ancestor Game revealed all the flaws behind so-called historical 'truth' as found in the official text books. I was not 'knocking' my own country, for though by the time you read this I will have spent two thirds of my life in other countries, and I'm off to Chile, Peru and Easter Island in November and fly to England and Europe via Sri Lanka in January, however I am still a firm believer in a quotation from Horace much used by many post-colonial writers: 'They change their skies but not their souls who sail across the sea'. Where I live and where I die will not change that. In the rather jingoistic last line of Dorothy Mackellar's poem, Australia, a poem we all learnt at school, when the time does come to die, 'I know to what brown country my homing thoughts will fly'. When I taught Australian literature, in spite of presenting the 'warts' I was always careful to point out that in spite of everything else, I believed that we had created in a very short time the best 'multi'-cultural society that existed. I also believed that the Mabo1 and Wik2 decisions had gone a long way towards reconciliation with Australia's original population. When I reached Australia in 1997 a great shock hit me and I was forced to ask myself the same question that Dr Lois O'Donoghue had asked; namely what had happened to that 'moment of idealism' manifested by 90% of the Australian population in that referendum of 1967? This was a referendum that decided that aborigines could be Australian citizens. There are indeed disturbing echoes today 'of the black and coloured issues' that were around when the nation's framework was established. What had gone wrong? Noel Pearson's article explains very clearly what happened in the last Federal election and his opening paragraphs dealing with the Great Ed1torial Mainstream of Australia are of course written with deep irony. Initially the massive coalition victory was perceived as an assertion of mainstream values - the triumph of 'ordinary people' over policies which had been perceived as favouring minority or even elite groups, a term bandied around to describe supporters of reforms in relll.tion to women, ethnic groups and aborigines, to denigrate promoters of social reforms particu· larly with reference to gender, race and ethnicity. Such groups were accused of having, with the support of the previous governments, enforced a rigid regime of political correctness. The so-called 'chardonnay socialists' included of course the supporters of the arts, intellectuals, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, socialists and supporters of the Republican movement. The day after Paul Keating, Australia's former Labor Prime Minister, announced his support for an Australian republic he was lampooned in a cartoon in one of Australia's national newspapers as an IRA terrorist and underneath was written Irish Catholic Working Class. Minority groups, being given too much support and encouragement were regarded as the privileged, whilst the Great Mainstream, 'all of us' was being victimized and deprived of its fair share of the goodies. According to Ms Hanson, multiculturalism is 'discredited and meanspirited'. Robert Menzies, former Prime Minister of Australia, was attacked over our White Australia immigration policy. His answer was, ' We don't import problems'. I wonder how Ms Hanson got in! I am sure that much of the racism that exists in Europe today stems from the same source as Betty Th0gersen mentioned . (Hence Mrs Thatcher's demolition of the London County Council and her making sure that Ken Livingstone was no longer in power.) In whatever way it was perceived, it was promoted and fanned to fever pitch by Pauline Hanson who set about to put the 'facts' right and speak for 'All of Us' . This is an issue which I would like to take up later. In a splendid article in The Weekend Australian called 'The Business of Being Human' Richard Neville wrote among other things, 'The point of business is to provide profit. The point of culture is to provide meaning'. Later in this editorial I mention David Putnam's film The Mission. Earlier this year a debate took place between Peter Guber, the former chairman of Sony Pictures, a power in Hollywood, and the British film producer, Sir David Putnam, whose films include Chariots of Fire, The Killing Fields and The Mission. The event was a debate attended by 700 students at Boston University. The issue: 'Do social values figure on Hollywood's balance sheet?' Mr Guber claimed they did. 'Films are a worldwide industry, America's second export ... This is show-business, not show-show ' David Putnam replied: 'The medium IS too powerful and too ~mportant an mfluence on the way we hve, the way we see ourselves, to be left solely to the tyranny of the box-office or reduced to the sum of the lowest common denominator of public taste.' ~ Mr Guber replied: 'lf you want religion, go to church.' Sir David's argument was that cinema is the church, that ' to an almost alarmmg degree' films shape people's thinking and define social health. Each of the film makers had foot-soldiers on hand to support their arguments. Guber's was William Roth. His argument was: 'As we know, llollywood's only goal IS to make money ... The audiences define and control the product ... The product was neutral, utterly bereft of moral content, responsible only to market forces, like a Teflon pan. Not art for art's sake, but art for money's sake.' Putnam's supporter was Tom Oanon. After describing Hollywood as a cultural ghetto with a tremendous effect on world society he continued: 'Films should do what great literature and art do: make us and elevate us and remind us that we are not alone.' When the time came to vote it turned out to be a crushing vote for the Putnam camp. It is, as the article concludes, ' ludicrou s to say in 1997 that films don' t have an impact. But Hollywood's failure to grasp the power the movies have on culture and thought, not only in America but worldwide, is not deliberate. It is ignorant and uncaring'. I have dealt with this issue at length because I am able to see the direct effect of the lowest common denominator on the Australian population. As Richard Neville said in his article, ' We recognize more labels and logos than we do birds and trees. We' ve come to equate our self-worth with our net worth'. In most cases I am afraid he is correct. The power of films and commercial television, owned incidentally by Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer, who have just joined Vanity Fair's sixty-four richest and most powerful people in the world, is enormous. As Barbara Drury reports in her article 'Toys "R" Hell', 'the world's toy markets and fast food empires have set their sights on your money and they are using your children to get it. This will be achieved by the wave of movies and marketing [films] that is about to break on Australia'. As she said, 'It is a rare parent who can tc,ugh out their offspring's relentless demands for Star War's paraphernalia or the latest Barbie'. Richard Neville also quoted the figures released by the United Nations in 1996 which revealed that the net worth of the world's 358 richest llillionaires is equal to the combined income of the poorest 45% of the world's population. 'After the first billion', Neville asks, 'how about the teSt going into a global kitty for the super poor?' This idea of course would seem preposterous to those who owned that first billion and whose aim was to own not only two or three but many more. Other ~s of interest are that in Australia in 1993 the top 10% of households /lilntrolled 40% of Australia's wealth, while the top 50% controlled 95% of iUstralia's wealth. I'm sure the present day figures would reveal an even iilore depressing outlook. And whilst we're on the subject of figures, 50% the world's refugees are children and an estimated 97% of refugees in Third World countries. Peter Nobel, Ombudsman for Refugees, , said, 'The World needs change, new thinking and new people. ~tion is change because it brings the new. What is good in the old survive the change. What is bad I hope will not. In the meantime we must continue our work for Human Rights and respect for all human beings'. Remember what John Donne said, 'No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main ... Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind' (Meditation 15). Richard NeviJle's question reminded me of one raised by the former leader of Tanzania, Sir Julius Nyerere. I was fortunate enough to be present at an address he made at the Royal Commonwealth Society in London. Here was a humble man, making a plea for help and sacrifice for his poverty-stricken country and the equally poverty-stricken inhabitants, to a group, most of whom would have been regarded amongst the rich and elite of Britain. When he concluded questions were asked for and one woman stood up and said, 'Sir Julius, are you really asking me to sell my country home?' Sir Julius, a very gentle man, smiled wryly and replied, a reply I will never forget, 'Madam, isn't one home enough for you?' His plea I am afraid fell on deaf ears. A group of British coalminers pointed out that God had been replaced by Mammon. 'The owners don't believe in God because they've got their heaven here on earth'. This new world religion finds one of its firmest believers in the present Australian government, and it is with their blessing that the multinationals seek to introduce individual contracts and do away with collective bargaining; the old divide and rule principle is applied, and in spite of the defiant stand by the unions, 'United we stand/Divided we beg', one feels that they have little chance against such odds. With the gradual demise of the unions and with the subsequent loss of jobs there is an increasing social insecurity; human beings were described recently, by the leader of one big multinational, bidding for yet another state owned asset as 'controllable market labour', labour which can be dumped on a rubbish heap when no longer deemed of any use. Along with all of this one sees a whittling away of the welfare state, a high increase in jobless, particularly amongst the youth, an alarming suicide rate which not only includes the young but also the old, who no longer feel there is anyone or any institution to take care of them. In a 'user pays' society what happens when the user can't pay? 'Unemployment', as Sir William Deane said, 'presents a loser with the stark face of poverty - material poverty in the form of homelessness, inadequate clothing, sustenance, care or help. And so often the grim companion of disadvantage is the poverty of spirit'. When you take away a people's right to work you take not so much their money, though this of course is important, but even more important is the removal of their self-esteem and loss of confidence. Our leaders have failed us. With full intent to destroy union power, to downsize the work field, a shift to casual labour and job insecurity, deregulated hours and the attempt to introduce a twelve hour day, the government had very successfully succeeded in dividing us along economic, life style, age and career lines. We have indeed become Disraeli's two nations. But where the leaders have failed us even more is that, as Helen Trinca stated, 'they have also failed to fill the intellectual and policy vacuum left when Australia jettisoned the right to work. In her Larry Adler lecture given at the Sydney Institute on 13 August 1997 Australia's distinguished novelist Shirley Hazzard remarked, 'Years ago, in America, an elderly maverick in public life asked : "Does the economy exist for us, or we for the economy?" Who would be foolhardy enough to ask that question now? Humanism is being thrown over as yet another piece of outmoded baggage, without consideration of what is being given up, or fear of what this conversion will make of us'. Shirley Hazzard's is not a lone voice crying in the wilderness. Her sentiments were echoed by another distinguished novelist, David Ireland, whose latest book The Chosen has just been published. 'Westerners have stripped the world of the sacred, the transcendent, and now have no centre, no stable place to stand, no point where the inside that makes us what we are can view the world about us and the world behind that. Behind bitumen and bricks, glass and concrete, rubber tyres, airports, McDonald's ... we are restoring the sacred to those who value it, from whom we wrenched it away, yet we count nothing sacred ourselves. We live spiritually centreless lives with few meanings beyond food and family, comfort and career path. We have lost that central seriousness around which the rest orbits and to which it refers'. And don't think that economic rationalism dies with you . On the contrary even the dead are not free of it. Here I am referring to what is euphemistically called the 'Revitalization of Sandgate'. In discussing the Sandgate issue I would stress that I have no desire to give offence to people whose relatives are buried there. Sandgate, I should explain, is the second largest cemetery in the State of NSW and there is no doubt that there are many historic aspects related to it which we are told that the Trust plans to capitalize on. The headlines tell it all. 'New life for Sandgate Cemetery'. No need to wait for the day of judgement eh! No, Sandgate is going to be revamped and if the Sandgate Cemetery Trust has its way Sandgate is not only going to be 'revitalized' (facelifts are also provided) so that it becomes not only a major tourist attraction but also a place of 'passive recreation'. Given the nature of its inhabitants I would suggest it will indeed be a place of 'passive recreation'. But that's not all. Oh no! Not for those who are going to flock to it as it is turned into a major tourist attraction. We have been assured that no existing graves will be recycled - think of the blood and bone potential - but more 'income producing measures' have to be introduced to make it a viable project. These include 'a lawn cemetery' (placed I might add on one of the busiest and noisiest corners in Newcastle - not much chance for 'passive recreation' there - 'a commercial nursery, an annual open garden day, a columbarium, encouraging double use of single graves for couples, public tours, a computerised data base with a fee for people Editonal compiling family trees, a service on Mother's Day and a Friends of Sandgate group'. Then of course there is the question of tenure. I know many think of that term only in relationship to academics but the dead have now joined the academics. The draft plans of the Trust are full of references to 'the idea of limited tenure for grave plots', but so far the NSW Government has rejected this idea. You can be sure that the Trust will persevere in its demands and it will come as no surprise to you that the Chairman of the Sandgate Cemetery Trust is an undertaker. All of this must provide good news for those who worried about ageing. There's no longer any need to worry. Just leave it up to the market forces and if you feel like being revitalized I'm sure that for a fee the Sandgate Cemetery Trust will be happy to oblige. By the way, if you think that the Sandgate Cemetery Trust has got the game sewn up, forget it. The papers have just informed us in an article entitled 'Foreign Bodies', that 'almost one in three Australian bodies will be laid to rest by an American-owned company'. Two multi-nationals head the list and one we are told would make it Australia's ninth largest, not far behind Rio Tin to. The president of the Australian-owned company is rather angry about it. 'There IS absolutely no way we should be allowmg the Americans to dommate our funeral mdustry,' he says. 'There IS no export advantage- you can't export bod1cs and there is no technology transfer - all you need is a back hoe. They have nothing to bring to the industry apart from the1r marketing techniques. They are adding to our foreign debt and looking to take advantage of Australians in theu bereavement' But then the Americans have always had the edge on dealing w1th 'The Loved One[sl', haven't they? In the following section I would like to discuss racism, Pauline Hanson and in particular the plight of Australian Aborigines. The catchcry for the last election was for 'all of us'. But who were 'all of us' or who are 'all of us'? There is a particularly obnoxious game being played at the moment, especially by Australian youths. It's called 'Pick the Aussie' as if there is such a national identity. r happened to be party to a conversation between two women whom I knew to be of Irish Catholic descent. They were discussing the terrible state of affairs in Australia. The conversation ran something like this. 'It's terrible all this violence isn't it? You know there wasn't any before "they" came!' 1 refrained from pointing out that violence had been an integral part of Australia's history since the first white settlement. The conversation continued. 'They should bring back the death penalty don't you think?' I said, 'No, I do not think so'. Then came the reply, 'Well they should be sent back to where they came from'. My question to that was, 'But what if they are Australian citizens?' 'Ah' back came the answer, 'but they're not real Australian like us are they?' I was tempted to point out to them that the surgeon to the Port Phillip Association, Dr Alexander Thomson, claimed that the Irish were 'utterly ) W\etf<:>r--4 KKK by Mandy Graham, Newcastle Morning Herald useless ... intellectually inferior even to the aborigines', and Governor Arthur begged the Colonial office not to send Irish convicts to Australia, as they would lead to the impoverishment of the colony's intellectual and spiritual life', but I felt those pieces of information would have fallen on deaf ears and my suggestion that the 'real Australians' were the aborigines would only bring forth more ignorance and intolerance than I felt up to fighting. I decided to leave them 'as ignorant as Paddy's pigs' (a common derogatory term about the Irish), blissful in that ignorance. I am well aware that racism is not confined to Australia. Other countries have their Pauline Hansons, their Le Pens, their Ian Paisleys, their Enoch Powells, their Ku Klux Klans, to say nothing of the neo-Nazi groups that have arisen all over Europe. By mentioning these bodies I am not excusing Hanson. I am simply pointing out that Australia is not unique. Nor is it unique in its barbaric behaviour towards the indigenous population. Where Australia is unique I believe is in the continuation of that pohcy towards the aborigines today. We all know that racism played a central role in Australia's Federation (1901) with White Australia firmly nailed to its masthead. When Dr Lois O'Donoghue launched 1901- Our Future's Past she pointed out that 'the Fathers of Federation had put indigenous people m the Constitution only to exclude us', in any census taken aborigines were not to be 'counted as part of Australia's population'. Aborigines were considered an inferior race which under the laws of Social Darwinism would eventually die out. It was not until the referendum of 1967 thirty years ago when 90% of Australians voted to make aborigines Australian citizens. I quote from Alfred Deakin, one of the founding fathers of Australian Federation, an intelligent, cultured, widely read man. (Compare Thomas Carlyle and his essay on 'The Nigger Question'.) Deakin objected not only to the Chinese but to all who could not become 'Anglicized without delay'. This included 'Southern Europeans of the lower Latin type'. What is perhaps most fascinating is his fear of the civilized 'alien races' with the Japanese singled out. I contend that the japanese requ1re to be excluded because of their high abilities. I quite agree ... that the japanese are the most dangerous because they most nearly approach us, and would, therefore, be our most formidable competitors. It is not the bad qualities, but the good qualities of these alien races that make them dangerous to us. It IS their mexhaustible energy, their power of applying themselves to new tasks, their endurance and low standard of living that make them such competitors ... the faculties that make them dangerous to us are those which make their labour so cheap and their wants too few. The effect of the contact of two people, such as our own, and those constituting the alien races, is not to lift them up to our standard, but to drag our labouring population down to theirs. It is the business qualities, the business aptitude, and general capacity of these people that make them dangerous, and the fact that while they remain an element in our population, they are incapable of being assimilated. Already the economic fears and racism were inextricably linked. In a time of recession and unemployment racism is quick to raise its ugly head as the outgoing chairwoman of the NSW Ethnic Communities Council, Ms Angela Chan pointed out just recently. We forget very quickly that when we needed labour we very rapidly obtained it from any source we could, as was the rest of the Western world (see Peter Lyssiotis's montages, pp. vi, 22). When we no longer need it we try to throw it back. Malcolm Fraser, himself a Liberal, pointed out to John Howard on the ABC television programme, Prime Ministers on Prime Ministers, 'Now people say immigration takes jobs, but as immigration has been reduced unemployment becomes more entrenched'. The other scapegoats were the Asians, particularly the Chinese, many of whom had been brought as miners during the gold rushes of the 1850s, just as migrants from Europe and eventually Asia were brought in after the Second World War to supply much needed labour for the great industrial boom that followed that war. Peter Lyssiotis's montage reminds us, 'To those lands which have machines labourers shall be given'. The policy of 'White Australia' was firmly nailed to Australia's mast­ head and the Bulletin had as its motto until December 1960, 'Australia for the Whiteman'. Known popularly as 'the bushman's Bible' the Bulletin supposedly represented the ideals celebrated in the legend of the 90s, (the 1890s), the bushman's legend, namely egalitarianism and a fair go for all. The only catch to it was 'for all'. Like Pauline Hanson's ' For All of ' The Loss of Our llumanity Us' the 'all' was far from being inclusive. 'All' meant being male, white and anti-intellectual and its values are perhaps best summed up by Harry m Thea Astley's It's Raining in Mango. I'm part of the established Australian soda/ structure, he would say, and I can't help it. mate horse dog missus wog pool boong that's the pecking order. See, he would say, a poem, a kind ofpoem ofstructure. And as many girls as you can get on the side. Do they count? someone might ask. You 're kidding, he would say The idea of Australian and mateship was taken to ridiculous limits when T. Inglis Moore, an arch-nationalist stated in his book Social Patterns in Australian Literature, that Patrick White's novel, The Tree of Man, was both undemocratic and un-Australian (for Inglis Moore the two were synonymous). The reason for his judgement? Stan Parker, the hero of the novel, didn't have a mate! We are told that John Howard takes with him to each office to which he moves, three pictures, Winston Churchill, Mrs Thatcher and Russell Drysdale's painting 'The Cricketers'. The first two I can easily understand, the third is no doubt attributable to Mr Howard's declared love of cricket. But let me say to you Mr Howard, what you are doing to the indigenous people of Australia and to many other 'ordinary Australians' is 'just not cricket' . While the positive features of family life have long been recognized, white Australians have actively promoted the fragmentation of black families. No doubt you would adhere to the dictum, 'The family that prays together stays together'. Tell that to the stolen generation. Or are one culture's prayers superior to another's? Is it true, as Pauline Hanson insists, that we are a Christian country (I wonder if she knows the etymology of Christian) and that the prayers of the heathens, pagans etc. go unanswered! By the way back to the Catholics again. When South Australia advertised for new settlers it assured them that it was a state free from pagans and popery! You are on record, Mr Howard, as saying, 'Personally I feel deep sorrow for those of my fellow Australians who suffered injustices under past generations towards indigenous people. (He is referring to the stolen generation, see p. 14). [But] Australians should not be required to accept guilt and blame for past actions. But is it so hard to say 'I'm sorry' Mr Howard? I worked in Nigeria for some time and one custom struck me in towards the kovil. I push open the doors. I have to use some physical effort to do so. The doors are of carved, heavy wood. Fortunately for me, they have not been padlocked. My sandals, which I carry in my hands, are soaked and sodden, with grains of sand adhering to their soles. I place the sandals on one side of the entrance. I enter barefoot into the cool, womb like darkness. The stone flagged floor is smooth beneath my blistered feet. A strange feeling, some unknown emotion enters within me. I feel I enter into the body, the house of deities. The worshippers must now be few and far between but this is still the habitation of those sacred deities. The spirit of bhakthi, of love, pervades it. The fragrance of camphor and incense clings to the walls. The feeling of bhakthi. Palpable. Feel it. A breath of wind, stirring within me, waiting for me to summon it forth. Buried. Deep in my innermost being. The psyche. Yet breathing. Still alive. Like the memory of the Golden Man in the ancient temples. Older than time. The Golden Man. Where did I hear of him? From the stories of my grandfather, who heard it from his forebears. The Golden Man, the effigy of the ancient sacrificer in Vedic times. His breath emerging through the perforations of stone to reach the sky vault. His figure placed in a certain direction. His head towards the East and the sunrise. Buried thoughts. Feelings. Emotions. Surfacing in my mind. The fish. The Golden Man. Shiva-Shakthi. The Great Mother of the Universe. Also Kali, Durga. Goddess. Warrior. Creator. Preserver. Destroyer. Durga. Mother love. Maternal feelings and instincts. Protecting her young. Motherhood. The journey taken for that purpose. Why the Golden Man too? Gold will never perish. I still preserve the small amounts of gold I possess. The gold that decked me as a bride. I am a Christian yet I too had a dowry of gold. Inherited heirlooms. Brides adorned with gold, sit on the manaverai. But not the young women who now fight for The Cause. The warriors. For whom there is now a new kind of chastity. The gun is their symbol of both power and martyrdom. Gold. Gold sovereigns. We pay the gold sovereigns to purchase a life or even a passage from the North. There are different taxes. We comply. If we want to live. The kovil. Temporary halting place for a transient like myself. For others too perhaps. This was the first time I was leaving the North in this manner, crossing by boat. Across the lagoon. In the past I had taken a train or bus. Special air-conditioned buses with piped-in music to enliven the journey out of the Peninsula. I had aJways passed through those familiar landmarks until, after all the predictable stops and changes, we reached the South of the island. Used to be such a long journey. We would take food wrapped in plantain leaf - red rice, stringhoppers, vegetables, fried fish, fish curry, a container of sodhi flavoured with dill seed to assuage our hunger. In the baskets woven from dried palmyrah frond. There were thermos flasks of hot coriander flavoured coffee and bottles of drinking water from our wells, cooled in clay pots. And for our friends and relations in the South, the fruits and vegetables culled from our gardens - the different varieties of mangoes, nectar sweet when ripe, hand plucked from laden branches. Bundles of murunga with their tender flesh; odial kelengu, the crisp, hard and fibrous dried palmyrah root which we could break off into pieces like dried stick and crunch between the teeth, tiny woven baskets of jaggery made of palmyrah juice, the dark brown particles moulded into the plaited strips adding to that distinct flavour. Curd pots too. Gold jewellery crafted by the family goldsmith. I would sit by the window of the compartment watching the changing colours of the terrain, white, sandy dunes of Chavakachcheri giving way to the red earth of Chunnakam; palmyrah groves, their taU, straight palms with flourishing crests of fronds. Clusters of palrnryah fruits, dark brown, like polished mahogany, shading into a golden yellow. The palrnryah palm. Part of a familiar landscape. The 'Kalpa tree' - Tree of Life. Transplanted from Paradise to earth by Brahama directed by Shiva; 'Eight hundred and one uses'. A familiar landscape and one I could return to at will then, in the past; laden mango trees; vegetable and tobacco plots; the kovils and kerneys; the wellsweeps and the farmers working on their land in the early morning light before the hot sun came up . Scorching their bodies, scorching the earth; herds of goats wandering about searching for grass and leaves, fences made of the huge fan like fronds of dried palmyrah, the murunga trees with feathery branches. Like delicate green filigree. Murungas dangling their thick green whips. The past. All that was in the past. Reach the southern boundary of the Peninsula. Elephant Pass where once the elephants crossed the ford. Elephant herds from the mainland. To eat of the ripening palmyrah fruit that grew on the other side of the estuary. I remember the glistening white salterns and the old Dutch fort in the distance, converted into a resthouse, the waters of the ocean lapping the sides of the walls. Forts this and others which are at close proximity to each other. Reminders of a different kind of conquest when the Dutch were in power ... now we have to take alternate routes out of the Peninsula. My eyes, after the brilliance of the sun outside, take some time to focus their gaze in the darkness within to my surroundings. As I look round the temple I feel a great silence envelops me. I divest myself of all mundane thoughts such as changing my wet clothes and taking dry ones out of my small bundle of belongings. It is strange that no one else has followed me into the kovil. The others do not seem to mind the discomfort. Although I am wet and shivering, my throat is parched with thirst. I look at a single coconut in a corner of the kovil and wish I could drink of the water within it, search for the sharp blade that will crack it ... a single coconut brought for a pooja that was to be performed by the priest in attendance. Where was he anyway? The priest? The place was empty of any other human being but myself. I pause to think of where I am. I have some time to be by myself. My jewels? My money? I have taken precautions. They have been secreted away in little pockets sewn into my bodice. These few things that are of some value to me are still intact. I need to purchase food, drink, tickets for travelling to the Sou th . I am a Christian but a place of worship whether it be the kovil or the church will always be sanctuary. The deities surround me here, so a part of my sense of loneliness begins to disperse. What is it that the believer comes in search of here? Moksha? The realization of the Absolute? Or to fulfil a vow? Or to pay penance for wrongdoing? I myself am aware that I have several tasks to fulfil before I attain peace. For me, as a Christian, the path to salva tion is one that is fraught with suffering; I see Christ as th e Good Shepherd. Myself the lost sheep ... yet ancient ra cial memories arise within me. When I look upon the face of Shakthi, Dewi, the Grea t Mother, I think of my own motherhood which draws me on to endure all suffering on this journey. It is this great desire to see my younger son who lives and studies in the South and to be with him, look after him, to be re-united with him. My maternal instincts grow stronger with each step I take. I wish I could make an offering to Shakthi, the Grea t Mother. I know that I am not the only mother who does so, for the safety and protection of their sons, many of whom they will never see again. Both sons and daughters. For them, it is sometimes not the taste of nectar of the gods but of the cyanide capsule they bite on. Each one of us has an individual mission . I know what mine is. But those young people, those whose bodies become the live explosions? Their missions become historical. Their names are sometimes a matter for conjecture but the act is recorded for all time. Then it is that the Great Mother becomes Kali, Kali the Destroyer who devours all existence. In the South too. Outside the Peninsula. In those remote villages where both mothers and their children die, hacked to death ... poojas ... for whom then ? Avenging reprisals ... ? In war is there all loss of humanity? There is no one here, in this kovil to chant the Sanskrit slokas for the poojas. I would have listened as I used to, to the church litany and drawing comfort from that sacred chanting. No worshippers to sing thevarams. All I do is to sing, very softly, beneath my breath, hymns to the deity I worship. Stanzas, lines, words which share the same emotion of bhakthi. True, the deities were here, long, long ago. Before the Christian missionaries brought the worship of a Christian Saviour to the North. My own people were proselytised by them, yet I feel no sense of division, for within this temple, I attain the same kind of realization that the worshipper within a sacred sanctuary comes upon. That I too can become one with the Divine, with Dewi, w ith Shakthi, with the Great, the Universal Mother. In the dim half-light of the temple, an invisible lamp seems to glow. I do not know from what source the flame begins to glimmer unless it is the memory of flames that once burned brightly in the tiered brass lamps. But a strange glow illuminates the faces and limbs of the deities so that they are no longer concealed in darkness. They appear almost to breathe, to be gazing at me. I feel they are alive, yet their expressions possess a calmness and stillness devoid of the turmoil, the sadness and pain I had observed on the faces of my fellow travellers in the boat. The deities are silent yet they appear to be listening to the echoes of the chanting of Sanskrit slokas and singing of the thevarams whose memory clings to the walls of this temporary sanctuary. I try to learn, even at this stage of my life, something from them. In the churches where I worship I have gazed long upon the face of a crucified Christ who bears on his head a crown of thorns, whose hands and feet are nailed to the Cross. I gazed at the agony of the Mother of Christ, the Agony of the Pieta. My mind fills with emotions of pain, agony, sin, penance. Hope lies only in the thought of the Resurrection and of the knowledge that a living Christ walked with us in all our travails. The Christian missionaries imparted those messages to my people from churches which had been built by colonizers and conquerors. The pulpits were the pulpits of a different kind of conquest. Earthly conquest. Temporal power. The conquerors had invaded this land but the invasions had been for a limited space of time. Now we read historical documents to gain knowledge of their tenure. Wonder what kind of sermons they preached. All ghosts those preachers. Where I am concerned the Peninsula is my home but I go to the South. My return will perhaps never be assured. My home may remain empty, the rooms echo with hollowness but I make no predictions. I am just one speck, one dot in this vast d esert. If my life is snuffed out there will only be a few left to mourn my once existence. Everyone who has lived here, in the Peninsula, has known grief and loss. As they have in the South too. Those mothers in the South, do they even have the mortal remains of their sons for burial? But death makes heroes of the ordinary man, the man who would have been a farmer or perhaps a student. Heroic speeches are made to stir up the patriotic emotions of those who go out to battle and then we see the dead, the maimed, the mutilated. We see the rows so neatly laid out, of sprawling bodies with the grimace of death on their faces ... and we forget, except for those who have lost a son, a daughter who has meant everything to them - father, brother, son, daughter ... there are posters in the Peninsula to remind us of the martyrs. And in the South? When I go there, I will perhaps discover other names on white flags and banners. Where are some of those bodies? Lost in the depths of the ocean, boats mined and sunk in the deep, helicopters and planes shot down with their irretrievable cargo of humans. The highways and byways mined. My consciousness becomes a crater which swallows up all thought of those deaths, burying them deep, deep within its very depths to surface only in nightmares. I shudder for an instant. My two sons are not militants. They are ordinary young men although I do not know what thoughts they harbour in this struggle for a separate Homeland. My younger son has somehow managed to study, pass his examinations, enter a campus in the South, follow an Honours course in Engineering, win a coveted Class in his degree, become an assistant lecturer in the Faculty. What if he had been like one of those who had to bite on cyanide capsules at so young an age? Who prefer death to arrest and interrogation? Sacrifice. Isn't it part of all our religions? They say so much about these suicide bombers who detonate themselves? What if I had a daughter? What if she had joined the movement? The young girls too have broken away from aU the constraints imposed on them by tradition. There are regiments of women. There are the suicide bombers. There are the Sea Tigers. Women now fulfil different roles. Yet they are someone's children. They have parents They have suckled from the breasts of their mothers ... we have to try to understand them, their missions, their sacrifice of life, of youth ... we have to try to understand why such choices are made. We have to question ourselves. Why someone else's child and not mine? But within this space of time in which my thoughts wander endlessly, exploring different routes, alternate routes of the mind, my life has undergone a sea change. For perhaps the first time in my life since this war began, a sense of peace steals over me as I stand here, feeling the ancient rites which have permeated every part of this abode as well as my whole mind, spirit and body, reaching the core of my inner being. I have forgotten that I entered into this kovil feeling a sense of self-pity, so chilled to the bone as if mortal rigors had overcome me. I have to change my wet clothes before I emerge to continue along the land route. Wouldn't it be an act of sacrilege ·to change before the gaze of the deities? What could I do? What shall I do? Find the darkest shadowed corner, conceal myself behind a pillar and unwrap the folds of my sari in such a way that nothing of my flesh would be seen? Wearing all these clothes, arranging each pleat and fold meticulously, I realize how constricting they have been all my life. Especially when I had to step off the sandy verge of the lagoon, wade shoulder high through the water for about a hundred yards and when I reached the rocking boat throw my doth bundle into it; after which I clambered in with the others as best I could, clinging first onto the edge and then being helped in by willing hands. There was no other way for us travellers to reach a desired destination. Not at a time like this. A time of war. Some of the travellers carry their possessions, bags, suitcases, baskets, on their heads. Others tuck up their clothes as high as they can, even draping their veshtis on their shoulders but that doesn't prevent our bodies from being soaked. I've made the wrong choice. Now, as I look around at the deities, I remember the great temple festival at Nallur when they are all decked out in silks, satins, velvets and brocades embellished with silver and gold, gem encrusted padakkams, heavy gold chains, sovereigns dangling from every inch of their bodies, garland upon garland of fragrant flowers round their necks. Towards the end of the festival, they are taken out in the chariot, along the temple veedhi, the precincts which represent the real world to them. A refreshing airing out of the incense and camphor filled sanctum, their ears assailed by the incessant pleading of the penitents. Hasn't their view of the real world changed after the wars, the invasions, the occupations? Once, the penitent paid his vows and penance, rolling and rolling his body along the temple veedhi, clothed only in veshti, barebodied, limbs coated with the white dust stirred up by that movement. At his side stood the patient and silent comforter. Will that veedhi one day be empty of all worshippers? Who will blow the conch to echo over the deserted plains. And the ancient rites and rituals? Who will perform them? The gods will remain within their sanctum and perhaps the echoes of the slokas will still remain within it. But till then who will carry the pooja trays to them in a ghost town where shells rain down like bursts of lethal fireworks, where the bombs fall and the exodus begins, as someday it will. Perhaps an ancient poosari will remain to help the new conquerors to carry out the rites and rituals which they too believe in, sacred rites that still have significance to these warriors. And ourselves? We can only live from day to day. We predict time through light, through dark. Dawn. Midday. Dusk. Nightfall. And the passing of the seasons. The seasons of drought and rain. We keep moving. The guerrillas keep moving. They operate from the thick jungles. They have their hideouts, their strongholds, their underground networks. Everybody is constantly moving, within the Peninsula and out of the Peninsula. But the deities remain. Will always remam. Haven' t moved off to Kailasa. Their ears are now accustomed to more than the chanting of the slokas. The bursting of the shells reverberate like the conches of the past to announce the commencement of each new battle ... but the deities are still the guardians of this land. They do not make the same crossings as we do, their garments drenched in the waters of the lagoon but the worshippers still carry them in the chariots of their hearts. Bombs fall on churches, kovils. Walls shattered by shells, but those whom we worship remain in spirit. Perhaps their presence even in the ruins are a solace to those who are left behind. For me, now, this kovil is a place of refuge. The face of Shakthi engenders in me a feeling of power. Shakthi. The Mother of the Universe. The Mother of all creation. But there are two poojas for her. Durga pooja. Kali pooja. Terrifying image of her. Stamping on the symbol of evil, a wreath of the heads of the giants she had slain and a string of skulls round her neck. These are the images that the believer bears. Life. Death. For me it is Shakthi's image as the Universal Mother who reminds me so forcibly of my own instincts of motherhood, that impels my journey to the South. Now that we have to move away from the well tried paths and the convenient routes, the familiar passage which impedes our journey with obstructions and obstacles we have no other alternative but to find our way out. Somehow war transforms the safe road. It is now fraught with all kinds of dangers visible and invisible but we travel along it. There are no alternatives to reach a desired destination. My mind turns to those biblical times when the waters of the Red Sea parted for the Israelites to make a passage to the other side .. . 'Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong East wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground and waters were a waJI to them on their right hand and on their left ... ' But it has not been an exodus for us, not yet. Perhaps very soon, that event will take place. Perhaps the crossing is an intimation of what wiJI come to pass. I leave one son, a daughter-in-law, a grandchild, behind. I leave my home behind . I hope to return one day but the question I ask myself now is where do I really belong? We have the de facto rule of the militants in the Peninsula. My son remains in the South like many others whose homes are in the North but returns to see me. Does that make me a renegade when I want to leave my home in this manner, take the crossing? An illegal crossing. Though physically I belong to this terrain, I have to make this journey with all its attendant risks and hazards. Let me survive for as long as the time allotted to me. I have come through one part of the journey. The waters did not part for the passage of our boat but I reached somehow, dry land. This time, there was no drowning, no death at sea. I am not the only one, by no means the only one to brave this crossing. We who make our journeys must brave fire and ice, ocean and desert, whether it be here, in out own terrain or elsewhere in a far country where the millions of asylum seekers and refugees from their own war-torn zones trek into an unknown future. Many will never reach the Canaan land. Perish they will on the way. Bodies piled into mass graves. Frozen. Suffocated. Arrested. Deported . There is now no country which can be called Home if you become a perpetual wanderer on the face of the earth. I haven't moved out of this island ever but now I feel I have. Within this one country, two exist, one of them engendered by new imperatives, historical imperatives. We are divided by these forces. Too late to efface them. The conflict grows daily into monstrous proportions. Death and displacement are the inevitable results. Will the chasm be dosed in one day by the piled up bodies of the dead? Even a simple journey, which in the past needed no new philosophies yields such self-interrogation? Is it because I have been a teacher of history who always felt that I must question even the ready made answers and interpretations provided by the research of other scholars? Life in the past centred round journeys which were easy to take- family reunions, marriages, births, death. When we were summoned, we went. No one looked upon us as if we were a different breed of people. Now we have to re-exarnin·e, re-assess our identities and ask ourselves the questions about those first beginnings - inroads, incursions and invasions and how we even arrived here. The documentation lies in those history books from which I myself once taught ... are we descended from those first colonizers from the sub-continent? Were those same colonizers responsible for the collapse of ancient civilizations and the drift to the South West of the island? Did the invader become one with the invaded? The conqueror with the conquered? The subjugator with the subjugated? Or will ancient grudges always remain? Submission is not easy for anyone to accept. To be under the yoke. 'Sub iugum', as I learned in my Latin class from the missionaries. To be sent under the yoke? The young anywhere in the world will not accept it. Have they been taught that all people other than themselves are seen as 'the enemy'. Each one calls the other, enemy. Displacement. Alternative routes. Departures. These new journeys must take place. We have to move from the North to the South to see our children set out on their own journeys as asylum seekers. But not our people alone. Others too. Their motives may differ. But for the moment we will seek out, in spite of all obstructions, the route to where we want to go. Towards that desired destination. The ordinary journey now ceases to be a commonplace, everyday fact of life. The journey becomes a mission. Just as the mission undertaken by the man who sets the ambush or the man who on his individual mission is caught in that ambush. No names. Anonymous people. After capture, aliases. Women. Sea Tigers. Martial women. Women in battle. Nothing new. Throughout history armies of the past had women fighting side by side with the men. Armed women. Bearing swords. Uttering magical battlecries. Struck terror into the hearts of the enemy. The Bible. Book of Judges. Barak's army with its ten thousand men. Refused to go into battle without Deborah the prophetess. Wife of Lapidoth. To her Barak had spoken those words. 'If thou wilt go with me, then will I go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then will I not go'. And Deborah went with Barak to Kadesh. Gave him knowledge that the hour was right for battle. Defeated Sisera who fled, his men all put to the sword. What an end for Sisera with his nine hundred chariots of iron ... taking shelter in Jael's tent, she gave the battle weary Sisera a drink of milk ... fell fast asleep ... drove a nail into his temples ... fastened it to the ground ... Think of the young women in the movement in the Peninsula ... joined the armed struggle ... no distinction between men and women fighters, dressed in battle fatigues, shorn of their wealth of hair, forehead adorned not with red kum kumum but with blood, embrace the gun ... not a man ... the new women generated by war ... the traditional roles ... wives ... mothers ... rituals ceremonies of marriage ... not for them ... round their necks, the thali, that marriage bond ... no, no, wear instead a kuppi bearing a • cyanide capsule ... bite into it ... when they have no other recourse ... sacrifice, sacrifice, ... death, martyrdom ... both sides ... when will there be reconciliation? Eyes that envision the tombs of the dead ... the vermilion silk marriage saris spill from the hands of their mothers ... streaming like blood in the supplicating hands. And when I was young? Years and years before I became a woman of austere habits after the death of my husband. I wonder what I would have made of my life in these times, if I was a young woman? Probably widowed or in exile. Up to now I have stayed behind. Because my two sons remain here. I must go to one of them. I conceal myself in the darkest niche, hidden in the shadows. I begin to shed the garments that have clothed me for the lagoon crossing but as I do so a strange force takes over my body. I feel my flesh being transmuted into another substance. One other than this mortal flesh. The substance of which Shakthi's image is composed. I seem to share the same breath. I had become one with her. I would share her power. Even her name. Born out of this calamitous journey. I felt that the deities in this sanctuary had taken me in, accepted me, made me feel at home. It did not matter to me that there was no one to carry the pooja trays. They would return, the worshippers. I had lost, forgotten, my mortal hunger and thirst. I no longer needed fruit or nectar to keep me alive. The fragrance of those past rituals still lingered, the staling scent of a few flowers, now withered but no, there was no longer need for any of these things. The rites and rituals had taken place many times over and this was so sacred a place that my ordinary flesh and blood body had miraculously changed. I had come inside quite light-headed with exhaustion and hunger. I had thought of the white flesh of the coconut kernel, the coconut water that had poured from it, the ripe combs of plantains, the feel of silky hibiscus flowers against my fingers. Now everything had changed. I seemed to have become one of them. My hunger and thirst vanished. I heard a voice travelling from very near, soft, speaking in syllables that I could faintly understand, not the language of ordinary speech which human beings used in their raucous interchanges but the language in which the priest addressed the deities. I had to translate it, through my mind and imagination into that which could be comprehended for now we shared the same breath although I was the newly born one and they were the ancient, ancient deities. I was no intruder here. I was welcome. 'Make yourself at home within this sanctuary. We understand you are after a long journey. To us you have travelled through time, through memory, to reach us. We can create a space for you too here. Sometimes travellers enter and search for a plantain or two or even a little of the sacrificial offerings of milk in the vessels. The worshippers come seldom now yet they remain and when they come it is not empty-handed. People cannot forget their deities even in a time of war'. I touched my body. The tremors that had shaken my limbs seemed to have passed. It was as if invisible hands had very gently unwrapped my wet clothes and out of the bundles I carried, taken out fresh, dry clothes which covered me. The wet clothes, still dripping with water lay humped about my feet. The money I carried with me was sewn in little pockets in my underclothes. Would I still need it? I wondered. I looked up at the faces of the goddesses. Which one had been speaking to me? Was it Shakthi, the consort of Shiva? They would belong to time without an age here. No hazardous journeys for them across the lagoon in a boat which at any moment might capsize, sink from either being overloaded or attacked. These journeys were not peacetime journeys. What patience they had cultivated day after day, month after month, year after year while the penitents themselves grew old and died; while the priests and poosaries changed. The slokas never changed, only the human voices that chanted them. They were watching me, all of them. I did not importune them for anything for I did not feel myself a penitent. What a feeling of peace and tranquillity filled my spirit and yet did I not have my own God to turn to? And what about the rest of my journey? 'Take up your abode here', the voice continued. 'No shells fall here. You will be safe. There are no mines laid where you stand, take a few steps, walk towards that niche that stands empty and remain there for all time' . The idea was tempting to remain here, a deity among the divine. This was familiar landscape to me. I had known so much human suffering, widowed young, bringing up two sons alone, shells falling on the house. In fact one day the shells had landed on the roof of the house but fortunately the room in which we usually slept and had taken refuge in, escaped. When we found food we ate. Sometimes we would all rush to the church to take refuge. Ah, yes, I know the deities too are taken into the outer world at certain seasons, during the times of the ritual ceremonies. They too are accustomed to the sounds of battle. Yet, they endure. Always. They will always endure. But time passes. I have to make my dedsions. I had prepared myself in a different way to face the hazards of the crossing. I had first to prepare my mind and then my body to face it. Age did not matter. The aged ones, the ancient ones climb Adam's Peak in their pilgrimage for that is the Sacred Mountain where the Buddha has placed the impress of his foot. It is the inner strength of faith and belief that sustains each one of them. Here it is the passage through water, arid plain, jungle and the journey to the South. And my son at the end of it. Will he miss me if he never sees me again? But he is young. He will continue to live his life. 'Stay' the voice says, 'stay with us'. I stoop to pick up my clothes. My limbs feel warm. I have stopped shivering with cold. I feel a different kind of life flowing through my body. I am human again but I have a strange new strength to carry me through the next stage and the next and the next of my journey as I walk out into the starkness of white sunlight and white sand. GLOSSARY p . 107 vallam - Tamil word for fishing boat p. 111 urea fertilizer p. 112 bhikku - a Buddhist monk p . 113 koti - is the Sinhala word for tiger. Now a term used to describe the Tamil militants who are sometimes called the Tamil rigers (LTTE) p. 114 kovil a Hindu temple p . 117 the yom - symbol of the goddess Shakthi or Shakti p . 117 lchthys -Greek word for fish . Claimed by some to be the acronym for jesus Chnst p . 118 bhakthi - deep and intense quality of spiritual devotion displayed by the devotee in worship of the deities p. 118 manaverai - ceremonial weddmg platform/daiS where the nuptial seat for the bridal couple is placed. Used at Hindu marriage ceremonies p. 118 sodhi- a gravy in which coconut milk is generally used p. 119 murunga- a vegetable Anglicised term 'drumstick' p. 119 pooja- worship, rituals p. 119 odial kelengu - the dried root of the palmyrah palm p . 120 Moksha -state of nothingness/ an ideal in which no rebirth recurs p . 120 slokas - Sanskrit verses p. 122 veshtis - waist cloth worn by Tamils p . 123 padakkams- elaborate appendage to a throatlet or necklace approximating to a locket. Studded with gems. p. 123 veedhi - passage/route/area, encircling a Hindu temple p. 123 Kailasa - the celestial abode of the Hindu deihes p. 123 Durga pooja - rituals performed in the worship of the goddess Durga p. 125 kum kumum the Tamil name for saffron powder worn on the forehead . An auspicious symbol. Used in temple rituals too. The red variety is the most popular. The mark on the forehead is called kum kumum pottu p. 126 thah- Hindu marriage necklace p. 126 kuppi - small vessel or contamer p . 127 poosanes- Hmdu priests who carry out the pooja rituals , D e w a s u n d a r i Arasanayagam HIBISCUS Red eyes is that all I can show of my feelings? Bright red eyes remember the hibiscus 1 used to pick from that wild garden place in glass decanters watch them sparkle and Kandathe's red porial which we ate in her mud walled house floor clamped clean with dung goats wandered in the garden red eyes reflect you on red earth we scratched out squares played hopscotch screamed and shrilled nearby limestone quarries gape like era ters on a surface scarred Suramanium picked glass today white, fresh and the wailers crying out professional tears as trod on shallow seas washing over pots and ashes those of our fathers and now our brothers while we slip through life, non-persons shadowless red eyes RETURN 1 What awaits me when I go back to that place called home bitterness and guns from which blood flows frothy streams I ride clouds air sky below figures dance in war formation It was different then there people danced in marathons went rafting dangerous waters while I stood in subways, music, listening others in basement bookstores searching and I sprawled out on sun cemented steps shadows feet heads hands voices coins tinkling a guitar fingers toes tap while I find myself drifting war formations to games in sun shine squares you fought with real guns real fodder little beings toppling heels over heads absurd creatures the dead and the killers blood seeps out confused colours reds and swollen purples blaze on sands then seas while a tired sun brings me back home. THE FIGHTER Terrorist conjure up a vision gun-toting insane assassin beast/coward combined terrorise the good evil force stalks its prey on concrete paths lurks behind glass windows AWAY- MAINE, 1986 My thumb reeks of garlic my body feels heavy with wondering 'are you dead?' I walk, slide slip rain beats down on head uncovered I taste it drips into mouth tears dampen thoughts of you and I distanced cannot do much but race into a nowhere place with imaginary messages bearing 'Are you alive?' Standing over a table slicmg ginger talk of home sounds of ping pong balls bouncing jolting my thoughts back to you ~Jut they roll away. Parvath1 Arasanayagarn PARVATHIARASANAYAGAM In a Refugee camp - Extracts from a Diary 28 July 1983 Reach the refugee camp dazed and weary. The refugee camp is a school, everything is silent. We sign in at the e ntrance our names and address. I wonder whether our h ouse s till exists. Through th e dark and gloomy exteriors of the building, I see a long queue of people h olding tin plates. They all look inmates of a concentration camp and I want to run away. They look at us with dazed and sunken eyes, d ressed in shabby clothes. O ur new home is a classroom on the first floor, overlooking a square, which is a hive of activity. Rice is being cooked in a large ca uldron over a wood fire, while refugees are holding out plates and being served boiled rice and sambara from buckets. Our fellow refugees greet us with sympathe tic smiles and listen to our dilemma of being hunted out of our house. It's a relief to be surrounded by friends. Soon we too are invited to partake of this late lunch . I'm thirsty, but have no tumbler to drink from, however a reserve policeman offers us a glass of plain tea which I take up to mother. Night is setting in. We have received terse orders to remain silent and keep all windows shut. The glaring rays of a flare fixed on a tree outside lights up th e whole room. At about eleven p .m. the dinner call resounds through th e corridors. We hastily awake and join the long queues. Not hungry, but everyone is enjoying the rice and sambara. I see children ea ting rice off the palms of their hands. There are not enough plates. 12.00 p .m. Two men who introduce themselves as Douglas and Janaka from a sangaramaya have brought a pail of milk. They say their society is against the use of violence on Tamils. Everyone is suspicious of the m and are reluctant to drink the milk. Father however goes forward and has a glass of milk. The milk test h as passed. Soon all drink the hot sweetened milk. 29 July 1983 Got up at about 5 o'clock. There are only a few toilets for nearly a thousand refugees. There's n o breakfast. We are hungry . One of our friends has brought a bag full of bread, which we cut into hunks and distribute among the children. The adults have to manage without breakfast. Lunch is served at about four o'clock. We have lost our appetites. Night. - Tension and fear of an attack on the camp. Someone has seen something move 1:1p the grassy embankment. Soon a policeman is sent up to investigate, he returns to say that there's nobody. It is only a branch of a tree blowing in the breeze. 30 July 1983 Negative feelings are kept at bay. During visiting hours there's a steady stream of visitors, who bring food and lunch packets. Someone tells my mother that he has brought some food and clothes for the refugees, but there is no-one to distribute them. Soon the room becomes a centre for refugee clothes. New life is infused into us. The apathy and lack of motivation is dwindling and the inmates cook and work hard all day. A kind of order prevails - a new spirit seems to have taken over, the desire to live, to find a new meaning to life, existence ... A doctor has brought tins of infant milkfood . We then boil a cauldron of water and prepare the milk. We do not have firewood and so we use broken up desks and even chairs. Parents line up to get their infant's share of the milk. The bottles they clutch are filthy and need to be sterilised. We finish at about 5 o'clock. Walk back to our 'new home'. It is even more crowded today. Families huddle together listening to the BBC news broadcast on Sri Lanka. Later on we prepare to sleep. Many sleep on the bare floor. It is cold tonight. Dav1d Dabyd<:cn DAVID DABYDEEN, GUYANA I wish to pay a brief tribute to a man, a noble and distinguished African, whose work was of utmost relevan ce to many of UNESCO's concerns as expressed in the Director-General's Report - concerns such as the freedom of artistic expression, or the freedom from political persecution, or the rights of minorities, or the right to be protected from activities, on the part of governments or private companies, which lay waste to the e nvironment. The man of whom I speak was a fine poet and novelist. I knew him as a writer and as a friend. I use the past-te nse beca use h e was killed last year: his name was Ken Saro-Wiwa. I firs t met Ken Saro-Wiwa at a Writers Festival in 1990 and I was quickly impressed by his character. He had a ready spirit of friendship about him . He was of gentle manner, and the modesty and quietness of his speech indicated n ot only a man who was lacking in vanity, but also a man who possessed an advanced sense of his own mortality. He knew that by challenging a multinational oil company and a military regime, he was liable to be assassinated . Tyrants and writers are natural enemies. The tyrant cannot endow words with beauty and truth and spirit, and so the tyrant is eternally envious and fearful of the writer's power. What the tyrant cannot control, he seeks to extermina te. Ken Saro-Wiwa had a special and dangerous gift as a writer, which was his sense of humour, the quickness of his wit. He had a talent for ridiculing a nd parodying the strut and pomp of the elite. A very effective way of deflating the ego of tyrants is to laugh at them. And in hts writings Ken Saro-Wiwa laughed at their grandiose ambitions, thetr overweening egos. He laughed at the sh iny medals they pinned on their chests, and the pompous titles they gave themselves. He showed them to be foolish, and all the more dangerous because of their foolishness. It grieved me to learn of his imprisonment, and when he was killed I felt stained, almost bligh ted . I believe that the killing of a noble human soul can have this inward e ffect on all of us, irrespective of our race or gender or nationality . We feel that our own individual humanity is diminished by a loss such as that of Ken Saro-Wiwa's life. I believe that the dea th of Ken Saro-Wiwa is as significant as that of Address to the UNESCO Executive Board, Paris, on 24 April1996 Lorca at the hands of Spanish fascists or the death of Mandelstam at the hands of Stalin. Ken Saro-Wiwa's death was only different in that he met his fate partly because of his environmental concerns. It is dear to me that environmental concerns, which are relatively new, will find expression in relatively new modes of violence. In Britain where I spend part of my life, I have already witnessed the ransacking or burning down of shops which deal in environmentally unfriendly products. The spectacle of veal crates and cruelly caged animals arouses a passion among many British people, a passion so intense that sometimes I wonder whether we are all suffering from mad cow's disease! A new phenomenon in Britain today is that of the frail and elderly pensioner confronting bulldozers or burly bailiffs and policemen, all in defence of some beautiful parkland threatened by road-building. The spectacle of the lone, unarmed student confronting a tank in Tiananmen Square is refashioned, with typical British eccentricity, in the image of pensioner confronting bulldozer. People in Britain who are not normally activists have become highly charged and politicized because of the environmental factor. In Britain, such activism expresses itself in low-level violence and it rarely leads to loss of life. In South America, where I originate, we tend to do things with less decorum. In a very short period of time we have killed thousands of Amerindian indigenous peoples whose only crime was that they stood in the way of bulldozers, in defence of their land and their forest environment. As a writer I can understand why the literary form of 'magical realism' originated in my region. 'Magical Realism' has to do with a certain grossness or exaggeration of proportions. The idea of the grotesque lies at the heart of the literary form of 'magical realism'. And the practice of the grotesque lies at the heart of our behaviour towards our indigenous peoples. No Indigenous Peoples Fund, however welcome, can ever recompense these peoples for the robbery of their culture, their lands and their lives. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS IAN ADAM is Professor at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has written two volumes of poetry and articles on Victorian and Post-colonial Literature and with Helen Tiffin is co-editor of Past the Last Post: Theorizing Post-colonialism and Post-modernism. He edited Arielfrom 1980 to 1990. AOSAF AFZAL is a young London poet published by Krax, Pomes, with two Poetry Now anthologies . All ARASANAYAGAMs were interned in a refugee camp in Kandy, Sri Lanka during 1983. This was due to the conflict which still continues today between the Tamil and the Singalese. DEWASUNDARI is a Tamil, JEAN ARASANAYAGAM is of Dutch Burgher family descent married to DEWASUNDARI and PARVATHI is their daughter. They were eventually released and now live in Kandy. All three are writers. Jean Arasanayagam has published one book of poetry and Penguin (India) are going to publish the history of her Dutch Burgher ancestors. She was a contributor to Unbecoming Daughters of the Empire and Dangaroo Press will publish her next collection of poetry . Parvathi's short story 'Six Matching Cups and Saucers' was published in Kunapipi No. 2. 1995. PIA ARKE lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. I Ier work has been exhibited extensively in Northern Europe. Currently collecting material for a photographiC book on Scoresby Sund m East Greenland. She is represented in Weilbachs Art Dictionary, 1994, and published in Dagens Nyheter, 'Kulture imellan', Jan.-Feb. 1995; in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, April 3, 1995; in Katalog. Quarterly Magazine for Photography, Winter 1993, Spring 1996, and Winter 1996-97. MARY D. CHAUHAN bi-lingual Gujerati writer and performer for both adults and children she won the East Midlands Arts Writer's bursary in 1990, and in 1996 came joint second in the Asian Playwnght Festival, Kalam Kahe run by the B.B.C. Sampad and the Leicester Haymarket Theatre with her play Red Skies. JULIAN CROFT is a graduate of the University of Newcastle. He worked in West Africa for several years and has published eight books including poetry, fiction and literary criticism. DAVID DABYDEEN, novelist and poet, is Professor of Literary Studies at Warwick University. His last novel was The Counting House (Cape) 1986, his forthcoming novel A Harlot's Progress will be published in 1998. His poetry collections include Slave Song and Coolie Odessey both published by Dangaroo Press. MAURA DOOLEY is a poet and an editor who lives in London . Her latest poetry collection is Kissing A Bone (Bioodaxe) 1996, she is editor of Making For Planet Alice (Bioodaxe) 1997. CATRJONA ELDER is a lecturer at the University of Wollongong, where she teaches Austalian Studies and History . Her research interests at the moment centre around fictional fantasies of assimilation in twentieth century Australia MANDY GRAHAM, Design Editor at The Newcastle Herald, studied at the Newcastle College of Advanced Education and has a Bachelor of Arts -Visual Arts. She also has a postgraduate diploma in Plant and Wildlife Illustration. She is a winner of numerous industry awards including the Journalist of the Year in 1991 and Northern NSW Artist of the Year in 1997. DAVID HUTCIIISON engmeer, historian, Physics teacher, adult educator, first Curator of History at W.A. Museum. Writer of poetry, short stories and translator of these from Greek. Author of a book about the Benedictine Monks of New Norc1a, the extract 'Karen' IS from his novel The Poverty Bush. jiM )ARMAN cover artist. jim Jarman's father was a stockman on a station, his mother, the cook. When he was seven he was put in a boys' home. He rejoined his mother and stepfather when he was ten but because of cruelty he ran away and became a street kid at the age of twelve learning to live off his w1ts. At the age of fourteen he was made a ward of the state and released when he was eighteen. No IJne ever visited him so he had plenty of practice at being a loner. He became a driller and worked in Australia, Indonesia, Borneo, Iran and the Persian Gulf. After a sting drilling in the Bass Strait he was given a job in Pakistan with the Australian Development Assistance Bureau and the United Nations to train the local people in drilling water bores for Afghan Refugees. He was sent by the United Nations to Afghanistan to drill for water to hold back the flow of refugees in the middle of the warzone between Russia and Afghanistan. After six weeks leave/counselling in Australia Jim was sent to Burma, first to Rangoon then to Mandalay, where he supervised three massive water projects. He always gained the respect and adm1ration of the people and refugees he helped and lived with. Not surprisingly Jim suffered traumatic experiences which remain with him today. Now he lives a quiet life in beautiful country near Stanthorpe. These are the base outlines of a qu1te remarkable hfe. On his return to Australia he began to experiment w1th pieces of metal and today IS recogmz.ed as a maJOr sculptor m this art. His figure 'Refugee' seemed a very appropriate cover for th1s 1ssue. The photograph was taken by Sue Moore, a photographer from the same area. DOROTHY jONES is a New Lealander who is a graduate of Otago, Adelaide and Oxford universities. She has published widely in the field of Post-colonial literatures focusing particularly on women's writing. METTE }0RGENSEN holds an MA in English and Modern Greek from Aarhus Umvers1ty, Denmark. She is presently working on finishing her Ph.D at the Department of Comparative Literature, Aarhus University, Denmark, where she has also been teaching. She is co-editor of two Danish literary journals and has published articles, primarily in Danish, on contemporary anglophone post-colonial literature. HAR)IT KAUR KHAlRA born in Leicester a writer of poetry and short stories she recently won a poetry competition and was funded by the Arts Council on a creative writing course at Lumb Bank, Yorkshire. Both teacher of English and post graduate student at Warwick University. BILL LEAK is a cartoonist for The Australian. PETFR LYSSIOTIS, born in Cyprus he is a photographer and photo-montage artist combming image with text. ALAN MOIR is a cartoonist for The Sydney Morning IJerald. CHRIS NEWMAN is a graphic designer artist who studied at the University of Technology NSW and is now continuing his studies in Spain . NOEL PEARSON born a t Cooktown and was educated at the Hopevale Lutheran Mission of which he speaks kindly, he is of aboriginal descent and a leading activ1st for Aborginal Rights. He graduated in Law from Melbourne University and is Cha1r of the Cape York Lands Council and advtsor on Native Title to ATSIC (Austrahan and Torres Strait Is lander Commission). GAYE SHORTLAND was born in Bantry, Eire. After readmg T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom s he decided she wanted to chase nomads. ' Not being male or Joan of Arc I couldn' t hope to lead them.' Havmg obtamed a first class MA m English from the University of Cork she got a one-yea r lectureship in English at the Umversity of Leeds. She decided that she d1dn' t want to end up as a permanent member of s taff in one of the forty-nine staff cubicles with a tea-kettle so she left in search of her nomads who she was able to find when, through Derry )effares, she got a job at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Northern Nigeria. It was here that she found her Touregs and where I first met her and we became good friends . She continued her pursuit of her nomads, had a daughte r, Maryam, with a Toureg. By then she was teaching at the University of Niger, and living with the Touregs. When the unive rsity ran out of money s he ran a restaurant and recreahon centre for the Ame rican Embassy in Niamey. She had married a Toureg and had two children by him, Adam and Rali. She, her hu sband and children even tually returned to Cork. Can you imagine a nomadic Toureg in Cork? No. Well neither could he. So with Gaye's blessing he returned to the Sahara. She and her family were penniless but that is nothing n ew. She wrote a book, Mind That lis My Brother. It became a bestselle r both in Ireland and the U.K. She has just published another, Turtles All the Way Do wn. She's still penniless and still wonderful. Our paths didn' t cross for a long time but as she wrote in the inscnphon of her first book, 'Dea r Anna, I low wonderful to say "With love" after more than twenty years.' She's a remarkable woman. ALICIA STUBBERSFIELD hves m Wales, her first full poetry collection is 7he Magician's Assistant (Fiambard). BETTY TH0GERSEN is a graduate of the Umversity of Aarhus, Denmark where sh e specialized in post-colonial literature and the University of Aalborg, Denmark where she did a degree in International Stud1es. Since her graduation she has travelled widely and worked almost exclusively in the field of humanitarian work, including serv1ce with the United Nations High Comm issioner for Refugees in Sydney, Australia and in refugee camps m Nepal. In addition she has completed the following courses: Cultural Sensitization, Kathmandu, Nepal; People-Oriented Planning, Sydney, Australia; and a Study trip to the United Nations European Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland. She currently docs voluntary work w 1th CARlTAS. SAEED UR-REHMAN comes from Pakistan and has a Masters degree from the University of the Punjab. In 1991, he was expelled from the National Inshtute of Modern Languages, Islamabad because of what they considered to be his blasphemous poi11t of view. After a trial by a jury of re ligious scholars, he was forbidden to return to the Institute. He was advised to leave the country. These days, he is in Australia and has recently completed his Honou rs Masters thesis on Indian Literature written in English. While studying in Australia he had no finanCial support from any government and with a great deal of difficulty, he financed his education. He is always looking for a homeland because there is none for him. KUNAPIPI FICTION Aosaf Afzal, Jean Arasanayagarn, David Hutchison Gaye Shortland POETRY Ian Adam, Aosaf Afzal, Dewasundari Arasanayagam Mary Chauhan, Julian Croft, Maura Dooley, Harjit Kaur Khaira Alicia Stubbersfield, Saeed Ur-Rehman ARTICLES/STATEMENTS Parvathi Arasanayagam, 'In a Refugee camp- Extracts from a Diary'; David Dabydeen, 'Address to the UNESCO Executive Board, Paris'; Dorothy Jones, ' Post-colonial Families Reconfigured: a Discussion of The Bone People and Miss Smilla 's Feeling For Snow'; Mette }0rgensen, 'Islands: Literally and in Literature'; Noe Pearson, 'University Day Address, 5 May 1997'; Betty Th0ger~en, 'Expanding Horizons' ; Saeed Ur-Rehman, 'Brown Bleakness/Bro Greyness: A Textual Analysis of My Body in Australia' COVER: ' Refugee' by Jim Jarman ISSN 0106-573~ DANGAROO PRESS


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Rutherford, Anna. Kunapipi 19 (2) 1997 Full version, Kunapipi, 2015,