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.
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