She did not arrive by boat.
She tried her best to assimilate into the local culture. Some days, it was performing the rite of the quintessential ‘Ozzie’ backyard barbeque with regimented rows of browned sausages stuck deep into soft hot dog buns eaten with barbeque sauce in the shade of the low-set sun.
On other weekends, the ‘sausage sizzle’ the kids craved was quickly scoffed down with white sandwich slices outside Bunnings warehouses and quickly washed down with a can of Solo.
There were also the days of attending crisp mid-morning picnics and children's’ birthday parties at the park. Inescapably, and inevitably under the bright hot sun nestled among tall trees, almost always right next to the children’s playground, where, not quite coincidentally, also sat the barbeque pit, and again, with rows of browned sausages next to rows of fried eggs, and meat patties; or, a cold fruit platter delicately poised next to an elaborate birthday cake.
Plastic plates and cutlery sat and set out neatly on a carefully arranged table next to the green and blue foldout chairs. Well into the hour, the children played rambunctiously, while the adults chatted with a beer in one hand and, with the other, periodically slapping the buzzing flies away. Not strangely, most people she could get along with had come from another country or whose parents had arrived from elsewhere, which made them second-generation migrants, but not any less ‘Australian’ — whatever that means.
As a matter of politeness, she stopped asking people about their backgrounds unless the discussion is built on a culturally specific context. Why does it really matter?
Her neighbour was a 60 years old silver-haired woman called Lisa. She has lived all her life in the same house right next to the local pub and pocketed deep, tucked cosily away, in Brisbane’s outer suburbs. On a rare occasion, the two women point out, with feigned interest, the different birds that present in their respective backyards. Among them were the gaggle of swooping magpies, the curious rosellas, the occasional pair of quiet kookaburras, the humongous black, blue-eyed, Torresian crows, the anomalous loner Ibis, the pair of clever currawongs, a family of inquisitive minor birds, the sulphur-crested comedian of a cockatoo, a group of cheerful rainbow lorikeets and the scores of tottering pigeons.
“I sometimes throw him a piece of mince”, Lisa indicated to the inquisitive currawong perched on the clothes-line, cocking its head as if it were eavesdropping.
“He takes it from my hand.”
In the evenings, aswarm of bats take off against the dusk filled sky streaked with purple orange hues. The dull reverberations of traffic fade into distant oblivion, though infrequently, punctuated by the ringing of an ambulance or police siren.
On Australia Day, a national public holiday, dinner was a leg of lamb traditionally roasted along with a side of seasonal greens, married with whatever is on the television, nowadays it is Peter Rabbit, but before the children, the chatter on the Drum or the sounds of guffaw on Q and A.
This is the second part of a six-part fiction piece yet to be fully published.