Rest in Peace amala, my old Mummy, who always told me that I didn’t treat my husband right, whose company I adored. (If one could explain the art of witty, acerbic conversation in Yolŋu-matha, and the skilful play on words, switching across and back between languages.) Countless hours together in company under the mango tree, weaving, talking, smoking and drinking tea (and amala would often break into song, so quietly, half facing away). She taught my dhuway what it meant to be a son-in-law and he duly avoided her as his mokul, sending gifts and care through his galay, my brothers and sisters. She was my amala and I was her waku.
It was amala’s Mother’s country that I came to call my own. It was her father’s country that we footwalked to, to scour the rocks for oysters. To stop in the dry and rest. I was never the most adept hunter, or gatherer, for that matter, and so often stayed behind to look after amala (her brain already slightly gapu-mirri). Chattering away even when I dozed off. Sometimes amala mistook the shower for a toilet and sometimes I’d wake up just in time to catch her trying to light a fire inside to keep the sandflies from biting me as I slept. One could only half sleep, but I so loved this time that we spent together.
‘Writers imagine that they cull stories from the world. I’m beginning to believe that vanity makes them think so. That it’s actually the other way around. Stories cull writers from the world. Stories reveal themselves to us. The public narrative, the private narrative — they colonize us. They commission us. They insist on being told. Fiction and non-fiction are only different techniques of story telling. For reasons I do not fully understand, fiction dances out of me. Non-fiction is wrenched out by the aching, broken world I wake up to every morning.’
The full text can be found here.
Incidentally, Arundhati Roy is also (as I have learned only recently) a seriously impressive ethnographer. The featured image was taken while she was doing research for what became her recent book, ‘Walking with The Comrades.’ You can read an excerpt from this book here or alternatively listen to Arundhati read the excerpt herself – which I highly recommend – featured as a podcast (#11), here.
I’ve not been able to play the guitar for a long time now. And I am quite enjoying it muchly.
It’s that time of thesis writing where I need to put in 10am-10pm hours to submit. I have my swag rolled up under my desk and have just returned from a weekend visit to Kyneton where my brother, his partner, my little niece, and their little dog Lotte live. They have very kindly offered to keep ŋarraku beloved wuŋgan (‘my beloved dog’) company while I put these long hours in in the office.
This is a brief note on driving back to Canberra while listening to music very loudly in one’s ears. Who says our life is not a music clip. The song in this clip is Invite Me by Adalita, from her first self titled album.