I’ve always considered myself a very ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘informed’ person, but being an international student – I definitely didn’t know as much about the aboriginal people of Australia as the domestic students. Over the past year, I thought I had learnt as much as I could about them or at least, tried to be informed about these people whom I first encountered at Circular Quay.
I remember studying something about their totem in Sociology in high school.Although this didn’t mean much two years ago, a paragraph that I read in my high school sociology book has been haunting me this past two weeks. Comparing Literature and History, Chris always mentions in our history tutorials, ‘ take everything with a pinch of salt’. What baffles me the most is that what we learn in a subject which is supposedly about what made us who we are today will always be modified to please the successors of the time. Whereas, Literature seems like a muffled cry of truth trying to make its way out. The Deadman dance by Kim Scott and his ‘unconventional’ writing made me realise how much we’ve been conforming to these guidelines without even questioning it.
My first language is supposed to be Nepali. I use ‘supposed to be’ instead of just ‘is’ because, as much as I’m ashamed of it, I am fluent in English more than I am in Nepali. I was born and bred in Nepal for 18 years and I still think in English and I prefer English over Nepali. And I’ve always been proud of being better at English than in Nepali. It didn’t matter if I was failing in Nepali in school as long as I was getting distinctions for English. Kim Scott’s writing has made me question everything. Why? For What? Does this make me smarter? Does neglecting my culture and letting it gather dust make me a better person? In 10 years time will I be telling my kids about how we had our own culture and language while they call me ‘mum’ instead of ‘आमा’, while they speak in a language which only recognises royalty but doesn’t have any respect for its elders.
Should I be repenting this language, that I love so much, of privilege and prosperity which has brought destruction and hatred, or should I be appreciating it for allowing me to understand all of these wonderful poems and work but at the expense of the writers life. The study of this unit has taught me many important things but most of all it has made me realise the crude reality of this language. It is like a beautiful rose. There are other flowers that are more beautiful and have more variety than it with no thorns, but a rose will always allure you more. And although you will struggle to hold it in your hands because of the thorns – you’ll never be able to let it go.
Photo credit : https://pixabay.com/en/boomerang-aboriginal-australia-wood-151561/