someone wailed yesterday.
We were talking about the Replanting Australia project and one of the women in the group was not happy at the thought of making any more squares.
Nobody was saying she had to make a square but there was a sudden quiet in the room. I knew why and so did one or two others. I looked at someone else.
"I have something to show you," she told everyone, "It's only a photograph because well...."
She brought out a photograph.
"I came here as a refugee in 1960. Before that my parents and I had been living in a chicken house on a farm. The farmer let us live there and my parents worked on the farm in return for food. It was very cold in winter. My brother had died because of the cold. My mother could not keep him warm. We had nothing else unless someone gave it to us. My father had been a doctor but the war came and he was sent away for a long time. He had a friend here who thought we could come. It took a long time. When it all happened I was afraid because I did not believe people here would be any different.
We landed in Melbourne on a very cold and wet day. I was wearing a blue cotton dress. It was too small for me but it was all I had. My father's friend met us and his wife took us to their church. There were women there who found another dress for me, one which fitted. It wasn't new but I liked it because it was warm. They found other things too. Nothing was new except one thing.
"We made this for you," they told me.
It was a blanket. It was knitted in squares which seemed to be all the colours of the rainbow. The squares didn't quite match in places but I didn't notice that then because they told me it was for me. I looked at my mother and she was trying not to cry. This time it was not because she was sad but because she was happy.
I couldn't say "thank you" because my throat felt as if it had closed up altogether. I did something I had never done before. I hugged someone I didn't know to say "thank you". She hugged me back.
I kept the blanket on my bed. When my daughter was old enough to know the story it went on her bed. Last year she gave it to her son and told him the story. It's still good because we take care of it. It isn't perfectly made but it is perfect because it was made with love and I loved it, still love it, because people made it for me. It made me believe I was loved and wanted. That is why we should make the squares."
There was silence and then the woman who had said, "Not more blanket squares!" asked me,
"Will you show me how to start?"