E P George
The Bidura Effect
The attitudes, faith and identity of a young social worker are transformed by his relationship with an elderly, house-bound Aboriginal woman. Her tragic story is compelling and confronting. This is skillful and high-impact writing.
An extract from The Bidura Effect
“You see, it wasn’t just white people who were shamed of them babies, Mum was shaming her family, too.”
“What was she supposed to do?” I railed.
“I dunno,” Doreen swatted angrily at her tears. “She was supposed to not get pregnant.”
Wynn wheezed sympathetically. “Bloody men,” she said helpfully.
“How many babies did your Mum have, Doreen?” I tried a fresh tactic.
“Five by the time they got us. Five of us little brown halfies. Half-castes, they’d call us.” She put her tissue over her mouth and ducked her head down in shame.
“What was your Mum’s name?” I suddenly realized that I had written no names down.
“She’s dead.” Doreen said abruptly.
Wynn clicked her tongue at my cultural gaff. “We do not speak the name of our dead. We do not keep their picture. We let their spirit move on.”
“I’m sorry,” I suddenly understood why we had warnings on TV pre-empting Aboriginal names being mentioned or images shown. “Um, can you tell me about the five kids, then?”
“There were Sonny, then me, then Charlie, then Nelly, then Biddy was the baby. That was when they got us, mind. I don’t know but Mum had a handful more after us.”
I pencilled the five in, then left a gap with a question mark after Biddy. I was not brave enough to ask the inevitable next question.
Wynn leaned forward, over her tummy and kindly asked it instead, “How’d they get you, love?”
“Oh,” Doreen threw back her head and started to wail. “It was awful! I’ll never forget that day if I live to be a hundred.” She wrapped her arms around herself and rocked back and forth as she wailed.
I looked at Wynn helplessly. She heaved herself out of the maroon walker and waddled over to the lounge, where she sunk down next to Doreen and wrapped an arm around her heaving shoulders. “Hush now, you’re safe now, love. They can’t get you anymore. Hush now.”
“It’s too late,” Doreen cried, “They already have. They got me, they got my babies and they got their babies. They can’t get anymore cause there is nothing more they can rip out of my arms, they’re empty!”