mother took out her new second hand car, a pea soup green Farina that was
shaped like a woman, all curves and narrow fenders.
On the Saturdays on which my
mother was rostered to work as a child care officer at Allambie, she drove to
and from her workplace with her four youngest children in tow. I was ten and the oldest of the
us not to lock the car should we decide to go for a walk or leave for any other
reason. Otherwise we would not be
able to get back inside the car until her return at five o’clock. We were not to interrupt her at
Wattle Park. We killed time by
walking to the park and mucking around on the no longer functional tram that
had been installed as part of the children’s play equipment.
Back inside the car in the middle of
the day we ate the jam sandwiches we had brought from home. We doled them out slowly so as to have
something to do and also to keep our hunger at bay. We spent the late afternoon dozing and reading books in the
fuggy warmth of my mother’s car.
Nine to five, so many hours to fill for four small children alone in a
anticipating her need to turn corners.
It must have annoyed her when I insisted on clicking on and off the
indicator light whenever she turned to right or left, but she did not
lights. Worse still, her green Farina had sloppy brakes. We sat at the
top of the hill at the intersection of Mont Albert and Balwyn Roads and waited for the car’s inevitable slow
slide back, even with the hand brake raised. I hoped the lights might change soon before the car hit anyone
In the nick of time my
mother re-engaged the gears and we shot ahead spared the humiliation of a
her license, serious as far as her Farina was concerned. She gave up driving then, too terrified
to get back behind a steering wheel.
With no one to encourage her, my mother lost her opportunity.
drive again but by then my father was against it. He was dependent on her company. ‘If she gets her license,’ he said, ‘she’ll never stay at home.’ He preferred to act as her driver
instead and so my mother became a kept woman once more.
conservative government at the helm.
There’s only one woman in the ministry among all those men, all dressed
in dark suits, including the one woman.
We have a new title for our Immigration Department that includes the
words ‘border protection’ – it seems once again we need to protect our
borders. And now we have no
ministry for science, or for aging, disability or mental health, all those
areas in which vulnerable people need assistance.
it terrifies me. My only hope is
this is cyclical and the slide backwards will not continue.
want to revive a situation that is now over. I did not send it in part because I cannot revive a
friendship that is over.
And so my
letter sits in its envelope unopened, sealed forevermore, so many words
unread, so many thoughts unshared.
heat of a moment, written with the intention of communicating to another, but
lost through a change of heart.