~ The Art Of Change ~ with Carol Omer ~

Art and Creativity as Mediums for Empowerment , Connection and Change…

The Virus

Posted by carolom on September 16, 2009

The Virus is a representative story. Though names and some of the details have been changed for narrative purpose, it is a true story.

The Virus. An Australian Story

I was 5 or 6 years old a migrant child of parents who were swept away from the sooty chimney towns of Britain’s working class north by the promises of a bright new life in a young country. A country brimming, spilling and erupting with outrageous opportunities for people, white people, who dreamt of owning their very own land. Australia.

We were the ten pound package , government assisted chance of a life time Brits who flocked in their thousands to these shores and landed like sparkling white seagulls that squabble amongst themselves as they fly in kindred form. Noisy chattering seagulls on the look out for the best morsel they can find.
Some have said seagulls all look and act the same…

Poms they called us, the latest flock of new arrivals following in the footsteps of the convicts and our sea faring ancestors who came to seize new territory in a land that was not young at all.

Big skies, wide streets, pupil dazzling light Brand new asbestos houses far removed from the tall sooty terrace flats cramped side by side back Home.

We staggered wearily, eagerly into government issue houses that nestled expectantly in the middle of tiny little paddocks. Neatly sliced quarter acre blocks that beckoned the new arrivals to seed a brand new life and sow a future far removed from the misty grey land where the sun rarely shines.

This was The Lucky Country and we thought that we were very lucky indeed! There was much to learn and many new things to see and for awhile my migrant child’s world was consumed with more space new friends, big school, new sounds, interesting sights and beach time delights.
In fact we were so immersed in our new life we were utterly, completely, mind numbingly oblivious to the Land where we were living.

That is when the virus struck.

I remember the day it happened.Unlike those silent viruses that sit invisibly on taps waiting to hitch a ride on fingertips that brush past lips this insidious, relentless, sickening parasite travelled effortlessly upon the breath transmitted upon invisible sound waves elusive in their source, the destination always the same.

It was very hard for young children to escape a germ such as that! I was standing by the milk shed when the virus struck.

Its current host was a plump red freckly boy called George. He was no doubt named after a king, an uncle or grandfather back Home .

The kids called George names like dot-face and carrot top.
Giggling and laughing, George entertained us by pulling faces and joining in the fun. His best friend stood with us, Peter Green, an Australian boy who was fond of saying “we go back 6 generations“, even though he didn’t really know what it meant.

His father said it all the time so it must have been important.

Peter was teaching George the real Australian way

We were standing in the cool shade, a rare find across the sweltering expanse of the asphalt playground when the virus emerged and the first cross infection occurred. In a loud voice that announced his cockney origins wherever he went, George sang out four words in the mocking tone of a confident child: “Dirty coon, rotten baboon” Four words that speared my consciousness and left a tender wound, a vulnerable space to host a virus that I was too young to fight.

Georges words invoked contempt a voracious contempt that swept through the crowded school yard as quickly as it took to catch one another’s breath. I followed Georges eyes and saw the object of his loathing.
Curly haired Lindy and her little brother Jimmy the Aboriginal kids. The Blacks

Lindy and Jimmy stood out from the sea of white faces. Shiny black birds surrounded by vicious seagulls. They stood holding the eyes of their attacker whilst holding tightly onto one another’s hand. Jimmy leaned towards his big sister terrified that the big kid with the flaming red hair was about to lunge and squash him then and there.

They were the outcast kids the Abo’s who were never ever invited to play our games. Peter smiled at George approvingly and one or two others snickered our way the virus twisting itself across children’s faces annihilating the anti-bodies of innocence feasting upon the collective enjoyment of someone else being teased.

This particularly robust virus had its own language.

After coon followed different words boong-boong –that’s the noise they make when the bull bar hits them. Before long other children joined in the heckling until a bubonic plague of racist torment swamped us all in its vitriolic grip.

That was the day I learnt a new A, B C. The uniquely Australian alphabet. A. B. C.

Abo
Boong
Coon.

This was the alphabet I was infected with as a child.

In the lucky country. A magnificent land older than the mountains with secrets winding back through time. Something terrible occurred. A virus was unleashed long before our little family travelled to the down under shores.

What became of Lindy and Jimmy? Innocent children who were called half castes, treated as out casts.
Removed from their Mother, kidnapped before her very eyes.
Thanks to the power of forgiveness and decency and common sense, strong medicines for curing the malaise of toxic tongues and the virus that leaves many deaf and mute and blind, Lindy and Jimmy and I became friends.
Precious friends and together we are all in recovery from the virus that strikes so many innocent children down. UnityinCommunity

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9 Responses to “The Virus”

  1. Angelina said

    Beautiful and heartfelt post Carol.

    Recently we were speaking with a couple who were unaware and ignorant of their racist views. As is sometimes the case, this type of dialogue is best changed immediately without drawing attention to why. Why? Because sometimes when people are so unaware, nothing anyone says can change their position. The worst part, it was a relative. Sometimes the oppress become the oppressors and mean spirited.

    Our son, (children always have open ears even if they are not in the same room) said, “I am so happy I don’t have racist parents because if I did, I might be racists too, and not even know it. “

  2. Breda said

    Carol
    That is such beautiful writing – you drew a picture so clearly of that scene. And no surprise you became friends with Lindy and Jimmy!!! You still friends?
    Much love to you
    XX B

    • carolom said

      Yes Breda, the story is representative. Lindy and Jimmy are a collective representation and our friendship is through family networks, in the Aboriginal Women’s healing groups we run and in the partnerships and projects we do through the Two Brothers Walking films.
      http://twobrotherswalking.com

  3. Melanie said

    Brilliant! Racism, it is the seed that grows the weed and weeds are hard to eradicate. I do my best, every time I hear a racist remark, to spray that weed and plant another seed in its place. Keep up your good work Carol, keep sowing the good seeds!

  4. ceridwen said

    very beautiful and hauntingly true! Just as invisible and insidious as a virus till exposed and treated. The words and the picture that follows hopefully represents enough of us to effect the healing – more words and more love for all human beings xox

  5. Bev said

    Would love to communicate,(fb?)and share poetry 🙂

  6. Rowena said

    Softly Wonderful Carol, one day you phoned me looking for Susan and so we spoke, met and are yet to meet,in ALL Spirits called their names as suits the caller..You are a Leader of Goodness. Rowena xox

  7. Matt said

    Love your style Carol. This is such a sad story. Thanks for sharing.

    • carolom said

      Thank YOU Matt…your Australia Day/ Survival Day article was a significant contribution to a more rounded media representation of January 26th.

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