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Tuesday, April 25, 2006 

Drifting in the Ocean

They threw clods of earth at the walls, the windows, the door. Not one square inch was left clear of the mud they threw that day. Broken prams appeared overnight in the centre of the lawn, bricks broke the car windows. Graffiti on the front door. It was an endless onslaught.

My brother would go out for a few hours and come back bruised. A black eye. A broken nose. He learnt to be a survivor, grew up too quickly. Lost his childhood to common racism, xenophobia, and an inept mother. His story is sadder than mine. As a writer I'd give everything I own to tell it, as a sister I'd give my life to take away his pain.

I wasn't allowed outside after dark. Not even in the garden. He took my hand. Told me I was pretty, said he wanted to play. He led me down the garden path, stroked my arm, said that we should play "mummies and daddies". He was only a kid too. Fifteen, sixteen years old, a fucking child himself. They say that your sexuality is expressed from childhood so, then, is paedophilia? He got me as far as across the street before he was stopped. I'm still not sure whether it was my dad or my brother that stopped him. But for his sins, my brother nearly put him in hospital. And that kid was three years older than him. At that age three years makes a difference. I hope to god that kid is in prison now. And I hope he was just trying to get what he could, where he could, rather than it being an expression of paedophilia at a young age. Maturation would not make him better.

I haven't been back there in years. A few years ago I read about an Asian boy being knifed on the main street, and then after that there were the three Pakistani kids that were beaten to death outside the chip shop by a gang of kids. A gang of kids who probably lived on the same estate I did. A gang of kids I probably knew and was ridiculed by.

Now I'm just as likely to get asked for sex because of who I am. But even, "I've never had an Asian chick before" is better than leading a four year old, who doesn't know what's going on, away into the darkness. And mud isn't thrown at the house here, I can walk down the street without people looking at me or my family with disgust in their eyes. I still get the occasional person making a derogatory comment about the "fucking Chink," but it isn't that common.

I know racism. I know it inside out, upside down, and from the very worst perspective. And Jesus Christ do I know pain: both my own and other's. But pain is an ocean. And when you're left drifting in an ocean you have one of two choices: sink or swim. Maybe you won't find the shore in time to survive, and maybe you'll have to beat off sharks along the way. But surely it's better to fight, surely its better to at least try.

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  • An albatross can fly for thousands of miles without getting tired. I've always thought that love is similar to flying, therefore we should aspire to be like the albatross.

    I don't know if I can do that. So far I haven't been so lucky. But one day I'll test my wings with someone, and flying won't be so hard after all. Or so painful.
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    * In 2001 one New Zealand fishing boat killed over 300 seabirds in just one trip, while fishing for ling.
    * Each year over 300,000 seabirds are killed by longline fishing.
    * Over the past 60 years some albatross populations have declined by 90%.
    * Annually around 10,000 albatross and petrels are caught in New Zealand waters alone.
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