Missing Histories: How it was: this is what you told me back then
This is how it is
For fifty years now you have risen five days a week 5am sharp, put on your slippers, washed, taken tea, first waking the children (be quiet do not wake your father), put in line on the table the white breads, the grain breads, the pide, the lavash, and the tortilla, the jams, the eggs, the cornflakes and the milk, the yoghurt and the herbs, the pastries, the meats, the breads and the jams, the toast, the sticky rice, the dough sticks, the cheeses, the thick black tea, the coffee, the hot chocolate, the cornflakes and the milk, the fruit, lined them up there on the table (be sure you eat, children, before you go to school; do not forget your lunch boxes), got dressed and walked out that door. Five days a week 6am sharp.
and for fifty years nowyou have walked out that door, then out that gate, shutting both carefully behind you (noticing the dead azalea near the far fence), and you have walked the three blocks to the bus stop – the 468 – stood in line with the others (good morning) and then you have taken that bus – the 468 – sat five days a week in the same seat (unclear, it is true, after some time, if you are you or she who sits beside you) and (it is also true) that every now and again, when sitting in that bus – the 468 – the belief you were lost came upon you, that you had forgotten why you were on this bus – the 468 – at 6am each morning, and you wished to scream ……. but then the stop came up and you got out (thank you driver) and you joined the line to the two blocks to the factory (which now looks like an aircraft hangar, and you imagine yourself a pilot and you think of those women, your compatriots, the jet pilots: you are those women, your compatriots, the jet pilots, and you soar high), and then you walked in the gate, past the park where the Aussie man meets the bold Greek woman (her husband does not know, there will be trouble), past the trees in the car park where you eat your lunches, hunched on the fence in the shade of the big tree from the children’s home,long lines of you walking through the gate. Long lines of you and you and you.
Jeannie Martin was a retired academic and an Honorary Associate in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, the University of Sydney. She had written on immigrant women, multiculturalism, racism and the media, and more recently on suburban mainstreets.