Contemplative


This past weekend was very quiet. The AFL home and away season had been completed the week before and for the first time, a bye was inserted between the home and away and finals seasons. Coupled with a European football internationals weekend which meant no EPL games, life resumed some non-sporting normalcy.

Tress had a lunch date in the city with some of her ex-colleagues on Saturday so I spent the arvo in soon to be closed Masters, hardware shopping in anticipation of the coming warmer days. I also gave the wagon a wash, as Tress would be using it to help the Hipos ferry their little ones when Gerry goes away on a business trip for a few days this week.

Yesterday arvo as we were pottering around the house while waiting to join the Hipos and Jason and Mel for dinner, Tress and I decided to watch a couple of videos. We had watched a mindless Alex Cross offering earlier the previous night and the movies we watched were a bit different.

The first was a French film titled “Of God and Men”. It was about a little monastery in Algeria at the throes of fundamentalist Islamic insurgency of sorts. The monks were Frenchmen who have worked in a remote Algerian town for many years before the fundamentalist arrived with their guns. Their struggles ended when they were killed, having decided against leaving when they could. It made me think again of what we are living our lives for.

We all die some time. I have often wondered what we could do before the inevitable happens, in order to look back and not think we have merely trudged along and drifted with the tide of what everyone else is busying themselves with. Those monks chose to help a community and paid the ultimate price. It made me think of the invitation from the Northern Territory Christian Schools (Woolaning College) last week, to apply to become house parents in a boarding school for indigenous children. Tress and I have parked that at the remotest periphery of our thoughts but it has bobbed up every few hours in the last few days. I wondered if this was an opportunity to re-examine what we’d like to do with our lives, for our remaining days or years.

The second movie was about two young women entangled with broken families and lives. “Every Secret Thing” told a dark story showing yet again, the depraved human condition. It was a story of two little girls who were excluded from their peers at a birthday party. On the way home, they abducted a baby.

Alice, the smarter one, manipulated Ronnie, the other quieter girl favoured by Alice’s mum, into killing the baby. They both ended up in a juvenile detention centre. Alice became pregnant while in the centre and her mum gave the baby away. Alice became obsessed with finding that baby and when released from the centre, stole another baby. The movie revolved around the search for the second baby, spearheaded by a policewoman who had found the body of the first baby years earlier.

It had been a cloudy, grey afternoon and watching those two movies – good as they both were – did little to brighten things up. The dinner with our friends would not happen till 7.30pm (only us Asians would celebrate a 3-year old’s birthday by going to a Chinese restaurant at 7.30pm on a Sunday night) so there were a few hours to fill. Tress decided to do some weeding and I went out to play with our little fellow. He has been showing signs of losing his sight and we both tried to make things better for him and I was showing him loads of TLC. So I sat at the deck, played with him and just whiled away the afternoon, deliberately resting.

I thought about Kiddo when she was 3 years old and remembered an article I wrote for The Star paper back in Malaysia. That paper had a regular “Fathers Figure” column back then and as a relatively freshly minted dad at that time, I often thought about how to bring up a little child. I had read some of those columns – contributed by readers – and thought I could write something too.

I wrote a lengthy piece and the article that was published looked significantly different from what I wrote. I would have thought they would send me a copy of their edited version for my consent for publication but I guess in those days of less instant communication such a process would have made life a lot harder so they simply published the edited version without my knowing. I only found out they did this when I actually bought and read that paper on that day in October 1997.

That was 19 years ago now. Since it was Father’s Day yesterday, and I had seen numerous wishes on WhatsApp and face book posts, I thought I’d put that article up on face book.

At that dinner Jesslyn said she saw that article and I looked at Sheryl the birthday girl, and said Kiddo was that age then – 3 years old.

A weekend without footy made for a contemplative mood. Invariably one looked back as much as wondered what lies ahead.Both those movies affected my thoughts, as did the dinner with our friends.

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