Thursday, 21 April 2011
"How does it feel to be the victim?", is
one of the questions that Linda Strachan is asking over on Crime Central. That was, in a way, the question I was asking myself when my friend offered to help me buy a new computer. I am of the view that I should be giving charity, not accepting charity - even on behalf of other people. It is I suppose a rather arrogant sort of attitude towards life. Any of us might need help from other people at times. Accepting help, especially if you have grown up to be as independent as I have, is hard. But how does it feel to be a "victim" or the outsider on other occasions? There was an occasion on which I attended the funeral of an indigenous friend. It was a very big affair with bus loads of indigenous people arriving from far points of the state. I had the extreme honour of being asked to speak briefly during the service. When I went to the front to speak I found myself "on the other side", the outsider. I was looking at a great number of people who looked quite different from me. Most of them were "full-blood" aboriginal Australians of the Pitjantjara tribe, some of whom still spoke their traditional language - Pitjatjantjara. Their knowledge of English was, in some cases minimal. Some of the service had been conducted in their language. I did not understand a word. I had been warned by my friend's son and I kept my words simple but I was still conscious of being on the "other" side. The experience was nothing like being surrounded by speakers of another language in Europe. There people looked much the same as I was used to and I could pick up words, sometimes more than that. At the funeral, I was made more than welcome. I was embraced. I was hugged by complete strangers as "Rosie's friend". For all that though though I knew I was an outsider. I was not a member of the tribe. It was quite the opposite at our clan gathering. There I met more distant relatives I had never met before. There were others I knew well. When we all sat down to a meal together. It was, in the correct sense of the word, a wonderful feeling. I felt warm and comfortable. I knew I belonged. Victims do not belong.