**Light mention of physical, mental, and sexual abuse**
Kemi sits her latte on the counter and drops a poppy seed bagel in the toaster. She debates on butter or creamed cheese she takes both from the fridge. As she slathers her bagel she muses in her head.... today Thursday whatta do I got... zoom meeting at 10:30 with Diah a fashion consultant for Matahari an Indonesian wholesale import and export company, pick up mom's dry cleaning, drop by FedEx and ship a commercial invoice that slacker Reed dumped in her bin, visit Nandy at three. Did she have time for a quick browse at Charlotte Russe? She had a 50% off in-store coupon; naah better wait until Saturday or else she'd she be late for 5:30 GDI. Kemi was a mentor at Girl Develop It; an after school club for teen girl coders.
Kemi got up polished off the last of the latte, brushed the bagel crumbs from her clothes, and grabbing her sweater laptop and keys headed out of her apartment into the urban traffic called life.
Kemi reaches the metro station in fourteen minutes. Upon arriving she sees people that she saw yesterday and the day before yesterday and the day before the day before yesterday. 'We're all just urban traffic exhaust' she thinks.
In the office at her desk she arranges her things. She crosses off Thursday on the day calendar on her cubicle wall with a black sharpie. Four down one left to go.
Kemi efficiently begins her work tasks while trying to ignore most of the office staff.
There's Gordy a dinosaur that's been with the company like twenty-eight years or something like that. She doesn't know what his problem is but for several weeks now he has started pushing her to come to work 30 minutes earlier than the usual 9.00 am.
He is friends with the office manager who holds the opinion that the younger execs should be the earliest to arrive.
She pretends as if she is listening to his lecture and doesn't notice his annoyance and says to him each time 'I will try'.
Yeah right; she is scheduled to start at 9:30 no way is she going into work and start an hour early for what.
Caprice is a fluff piece. Big hair, tight clothes, cheap, loud perfume; looks tired as if always hungover. She never does anything remotely productive. Caprice routinely comes to work late; never comes back on time from break or lunch; always saying sorry hon....don't worry I'll get on it in a jiffy. She's only on payroll because she is an excellent ass-kisser. The boss walks past and winks at her. She flirts back, smiling at him. Gross.
Kent is a pretentious half wit. Ross; a rich, whiney, kid doing a mandatory internship.
Sarah K. a neurotic, hypochondriac; but she's the bosses best friends granddaughter.
The list goes on and on.
Kemi looks out of the window. In the background are people wearing suits and appropriate office wear incessantly typing, filling out Excel spread sheets, attending company and zoom meetings, typing numbers and letters on a screen all day, printing and correlating paperwork, talking on the phone, answering and sending e-mails.
The same people wearing suits and appropriate office wear will pour out onto the streets at the same exact time; crowding elevators and, restaurants, for a small break to get a bite to eat and catch a smoke then return to an afternoon of the same morning madness, complain they are ready to go home, clock out, head home or wherever; only to repeat it all again the next day. How sad and pathetic.
Kemi daydreams of freedom. She tells herself she will not live and die as an ant. Kemi prepares her notes for the zoom meeting. Time takes off and before Kemi knows it; it's time to go see Nandy, her 84 year old grandmother. She'd already did the FedEx drop and picked up her mom's dry cleaning. Only GDI left after visiting with Nandy.
Dutton Manor is a twenty minute walk from Kemi's job. Every Thursday Kemi visits with her grandmother for an hour or so. They always go sit in the garden catching up on each others respective past week. They eat the goodies Kemi brings. There is a bakery on the block right before reaching Dutton Manor. Kemi buys Nandy's favorite a slice of carrot cake and 3 ginger snap cookies. Nandy eats her cookies right away and saves the slice of carrot cake for later.
Then Nandy tells her a daytime story. It's the highlight of Kemi's week. She loves her Nandy so much and even though she has never said it Kemi knows that she is Nandy's favorite grandchild.
Nandy tells Kemi all kinds of stories. Stories of tradition, of bravery, of fairy tales, of love and heroes. Nandy is a great story teller.
Today Nandy starts her story with....
"Gavin was only eleven when they took him away. He was too shocked to cry and too scared to ask why?
He'd seen it happen before some of his brothers and sisters getting into the back of a pick up truck driven by a white man. He'd seen his mother's grief mixed with tears and his fathers anger and helplessness. His siblings left and never came back.
When the truck came for Gavin he ran; ran and ran deep into the bushes he ran, afraid of being caught by the scary white man that once had had to chase one of his brothers who tried to escape. He found a cave and he ran inside hoping no one would find him."
"In the twilight Gavin was still hiding from everyone. He heard something in the bushes coming toward him. “My... son” said a familiar voice. His father came and sat next to him and held him.
Please Bopa....don't make me go keep me I'll be good I promise"....Gavin pleaded with his father.
"But I don't have any choice my son there's nothing I can do he stretched out his chapped weather beaten hands in front of him in dismay."
"The next day Gavin docilely climbed on the back of the pick up truck when the white man returned.
Gavin was taken to Kinchela Boys Home charged with the 'crime' of being a neglected child.
It was routine police matter to remove Aboriginal children from their homes.
It was standard procedure to charge children, babies included, with the offence of being a neglected child. In the eyes of the law, these innocent children were, to all intents and purposes criminals."
"At eleven years old Gavin was charged with being a neglected child.
When he walked through the gates of Kinchela Boys Home he lost his culture, his language, and they even took his name away.
The first day Gavin arrived at Kinchela he was welcomed by hits to his head from the balled fists of a staff member."
"He said 'you are not Gavin Turner pow!. 'You are #18' pow!. You understand #18 not Gavin Turner pow! 'You are not black, you are white' pow!"
"Life in Kinchela Boys Home was hell on earth. There was only school and work. Like animals, the boys were chained to the trunk of the tree overnight, as punishment for wetting the bed or failing to pass inspection and for dirty fingernails. Worse still was done to them under the monstrous limbs of the tree. That's where they used to chain the boys up in the night and do whatever they liked to them."
"Getting raped was an ongoing thing. Gavin would be very glad but also ashamed at his relief when someone else was taken. The chosen ones cries could not be ignored because their cries mirrored his own"
"Kinchela was a place where physical hardship, punishment, cruelty, alienation and abuse was part of the day-to-day life endured by Gavin and other boys who were kept and made to work there. They worked long hours in vegetable gardens and were sent out to work as labourers at the age of 15; with the home forcing them to turn over all their earnings under the guise that the money was going into a trust fund saved for them to use when they were released."
"Gavin spent nine years of his life imprisoned there until he escaped at age twenty."
Nandy has tears forming in the corners of her eyes. I moved to her and hug her tight.
"Nandy who was that and why are you crying?"
Nandy pats Kemi's hand and said, "Gavin was my son and your father."
Nandy had a son? Father?
All the air was zapped from Kemi's lungs. Her who? Father? What father? Kemi never knew her father. All Kemi knew was what her mother finally told her at 16; that Kemi's mother had been raped and gotten pregnant with her and that the man that was her father died when she was two months old.
Garfield the man Kemi's mother married when Kemi was just six months is the only father Kemi had ever known.
Mom refused to ever give her one single detail about her father. 'He's done and gone and the better for it; the better for us all. And don't go troubling Nandy it will only make her sad and cry you hear?'
Kemi fell back against the bench. She had no words, no idea what to say, think, or how to feel.
Nandy all these years had locked the door to the tragedy she endured as a mother. In turn Kemi's mom did the same locking the door on her shame, pain, and her father's existence.
Both women out of pain and protectiveness locked Kemi out of her biological right to have a connection to her father.
Locked door. Lock door. Locked door. The words clipped at the nerve endings in her mind.
Kemi came out of her relvery to hear Nandy sobbing and profusely apologizing for hurting her she didn't mean it ....
Kemi grabbed Nandys hands and kissed them..."Oh please don't dear Nandy don't. I love you it's ok. Ok. I'm ok. I love you ok?
Kemi realized in that moment consoling Nandy; that she really was ok.
Kemi had a good life full of love, repect, care and kindness from people who dedicated their lives to see to her happiness.
Kemi had questions for sure and one day she would get answers but for now she would continue managing her urban traffic for a while more until she could plan her escape to mindful living. She decided to go on with her life as usual. Although the door was still closed it was no longer locked.
Kemi feels a vibration from her cell phone. There's a text message from Roma at GDI. .
'Hey girl don't worry about coming today. GDI is canceled because the girls are studying for prep-stats next week.'
'Ok thanks Roma' Kemi text back.
Kemi walked Nandy back to her room hugging and kissing her; assuring that she was fine, more than fine, thanking Nandy for her courage to tell another great story; this time one of loss.
Kemi decided to treat herself to dinner at Ruth Chris and shopping at Charlotte Russe afterwards. Lord knows she could use some superb food and retail therapy right about now.
More than fifty thousand young Aboriginal people around Australia were taken away between 1910 and 1970. Today they are known to us as the Stolen Generations.
The boys were taken to Kinchela Boys Home in Kempsey from all over New South Wales including the Far West. When they turned fifteen, the Kinchela Boys were sent to work as rural labourers. The Aboriginal Welfare Board kept their wages which were supposed to remain in trust for them until they reached manhood. Most never received any of their trust money.
The girls were taken to Cootamundra in Brisbane. These girls were denied contact with their families while being trained to work as domestic servants for wealthy families in Sydney.
These children received poor education, an inadequate diet and many suffered beatings and other terrible forms of abuse.
In most cases they weren’t allowed to see their parents again until after they turned 18.
Among the worst things that happened to the Stolen Generations was that they weren’t allowed to speak in their own language or practice their culture.
Their identity was stolen from them, just as they were stolen from their families and their communities.
Read more about it here.......
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