1. In-laws are here. Haven’t had much time to be on computer and waste time like I used to. Hence my infrequent, sporadic posting. It’s ok, guys. Don’t be a-fretting.
2. 6 year old is on school holidays. Initially a bit of peacemaking and diplomatic negotiations to stop a major war but alhamdulillah the boys have now sorted things out.
3. Rained here for a couple of days which was wonderful mashaAllah. The low/high pressure system/isobars/hectopascals/cold front and all other meteorological terms means now it’s FREEZING (by tropical standards, mind – don’t want you Northern Hemisphereans calling me a wuss) and the wind means despite the cold, the washing dries in next to no time. How cool is that?*
4. Doing a few more hours here and there at work. I only wish the hospital wasn’t so far from home. I am not sure how the partners would feel if I ask them to move premises so as to be more convenient for me. Actually I am very sure how they would feel – it would likely end in words to this effect:
“What do you mean I am sacked?!!”
“What’s 5 million dollars between friends?”
“I thought you liked me?” :sob:
“Actually, the world DOES revolve around me and it would do you well to remember it!”
5. I have a cold that does not wish to leave the premises that are (is?) MY BODY. Oh woe is me. The headache, the cough that began moist and productive (did you really need to know that?) and has progressed to the irritating dry post-nasal kind. Nights mean very little sleep and days mean suppressing the paroxysmal coughing in case I vomit. Don’t feel sorry for me – it’s actually quite fun.**
6. I had better go and pretend as though I am a good homemaker or something.
*Another unintentional GENIUS pun. You may marvel at your own leisure.
**As much fun as trying not to vomit can be.
Last year while waiting for the school bell to ring everyday, I befriended an elderly Chinese woman. She had two grandchildren and she sat patiently and waited beside me every afternoon. She loved my children – always chatting with them and giggling as the boys made funny faces or smiled at her. She told me often to make sure my youngest had his feet covered (he loved taking his socks off and would not have a bar of footwear of any kind.) At times I thought I saw a twinkle in her eye and an itching to pick up and hold him. I didn’t offer to take him out of his pram – I worried that I might have misinterpreted those signs or that perhaps she was too frail to carry the little beast of a baby!
We spoke about the weather, especially the biting cold wind that seemed somehow to be worse on the school grounds than anywhere else. She taught me the Mandarin word for “strawberry.” At least, I think it was Mandarin. I’ve since forgotten the word. She giggled at my (mis)pronounciation. I don’t think I even came close. Sometimes we would just sit together without saying anything.
Her face lit up when her grandchildren finally strolled out of class (they seemed to take their time while the other children sprinted out). She talked quickly as she hugged them and started the walk to their home. I saw her sometimes as I drove home and watched in my rear view mirror; her face never lost that infectious smile and her grandchildren walked with her, laughing or stifling a giggle.
I didn’t ask her name. She never asked me mine.
In truth, she never spoke a word of English. We made ourselves understood by animated gestures or sometimes just a nod or a laugh. Politicians and many people in this country believe migrants need to learn English and pass an Australian values test. I’ve never thought it a necessity. I don’t know much about her family but I saw her take care of her grandchildren. I saw their smiling faces everyday and her undeniable love for them. My children looked forward to seeing her and were bitterly disappointed if we didn’t. I can say undoubtedly her family was that much richer, better and fuller as were mine for knowing her. There is no exam to measure her worth to this society.
On the first day of school this year I looked for her. She didn’t come to pick up her grandchildren. There was a much younger woman in her place (perhaps her daughter?). The next day I waited again. After a week of wondering and dreading, I plucked up the courage to ask her grandson about his grandmother.
“She’s gone back to China,” he said sadly.