Sunday, February 17, 2008

History

On Wednesday the Prime Minister made an apology, on behalf of the parliament, to the Australian indigenous population and the Stolen Generation. His speech was screened in various places about the country including Martin Place in Sydney and so we decided to go, with Tricky, because this was, after all, History in the Making.

The night before however was a Screaming Tomato in the making, which led to a sluggish start in the morning. Then, also, it was raining. And peak time.

When the clock struck nine and the apology began we were still struggling through traffic and so, rather than waving a flag in the rain in front of the big screen in Martin Place, we were sitting in the car listening to the radio.

It seems so obvious, an acknowledgement and apology for the terrible things that were done to these Australians as part of government policy, but obviously not to everyone. Not everyone wanted to say sorry, not everyone felt that it was the decent thing to do nor necessary to help heal some of the great tears in our social fabric, the poverty, the alcoholism, the domestic violence. And these things obviously aren’t solved by a little man in spectacles saying “We’re sorry”, but it does acknowledge and regret that for a great many years in this country families were destroyed by our government, thousands of families were torn apart. If so many of these problems are linked to poor self esteem and the dysfunctional family is it any wonder?

Many Aboriginal people wore teeshirts on the day emblazoned with the word "Thanks."
It's a simple word that means so much. Like "Sorry."

As we listened to the Prime Minister talk about the half caste children who were forcibly removed from their mothers, and who, in many cases, never saw those parents again, I glanced in the rear view mirror at my own little brown baby. In one case the parents had dug holes in the riverbank so that when the men arrived in their trucks to round up the children like cattle, they could run and hide in the holes. These children were rounded up anyway, screaming, by the strange men in trucks and the Aboriginal tracker they had brought with them.

The tracker, it turned out, had already apologized to those children many years ago.

The rain had stopped so we walked the rest of the way into the city and looked at the big screen anyway and waved some flags and drank some tea.

And later we took Tricky to see a sculpture that C and I used to pass every time I went to our IVF clinic, the House Of Groovy Love, for a blood test or a date with the dildocam. The sculpture is made up of two enormous white marble pebble type things, cold, smooth and pleasing to the touch. You can slip your way between the two and run around the outside. We used to call them The Giant Ovaries and we liked to touch them for luck. This is the kind of inanely superstitious gesture that we who are desperate to conceive often revert to.

I took his hand and led him up to the sculpture showing him how to stroke the marble, how the stones seem to butt up against each other at first but how in fact you can squeeze your way through to the other side.

And he ran madly about them, shrieking with laughter, hiding between the stones and shouting Boo, making strangers smile fondly and his father and I steal secret looks of joy at each other.

And then, climbing into his parents arms, ready for home.

Two giant ovaries, one giant apology. Big day for a little boy.


10 comments:

Mima said...

What a beautiful post, and you had me in tears! I saw it on the news over here, and was so proud that he had done it. I have seen several documentaries on the stolen generation and the struggles that followed and the T-shirts with thanks really show such acceptance and hopefully that will allow things to move forward with dignity once more. Oh, and there is an award for you over at my blog!

Suz said...

I heard it over here in the news as well, and was glad. Years ago, I saw "Rabbit Proof Fence." I made it through the movie without crying until the epilogue.

Em said...

I wondered if you might blog about this. I'm glad you did.

Maggie May said...

Very moving post. Most countries have done terrible things in the past.
Lovely to see your little lad!

Thalia said...

So glad your little brown boy got to share in this particular historic event. With giant ovaries as well? He's well in touch with his history, personal and political.

lucky #2 said...

Touching post...touching that a leader apologized to people wronged & touching to watch your child run through the meaningful statue!

Trevor said...

Hi Ovagirl

Don't worry about discussing 'ladybits' around my Mum, she'll almost certainly join in.

(Of course anyone reading this here will be out of context with what this comment relates to, in which case this will seem like a very bizarre, and ever so slightly creepy,post. Oh well...)

OvaGirl said...

Ahem. I feel I must just explain that trevor's comment is in fact in response to something I wrote on his blog which was in response to something his Mum wrote on my blog several posts back. (Which wasn't about ladybits either btw)

Lin said...

I'm so glad you wrote a post on this apology. Just because something is 'history' doesn't mean it's forgotten or that the effects are diluted...if anything, the horrid trickle down effects of the original act just become compounded. Thanks, kid. xoxo

And Tricky...ohmygod but he's darling.

Spanglish said...

Of your last post -- thank you for the E rating.

Of this post -- my cousins in your neck of the woods wrote to me about the apology. They are new immigrants there, but were also moved by it all.

The giant ovaries... they did bring you luck. Beautiful luck.