Translated by Shyamala Navam(Canada)
The newly varnished wooden steps of the staircase reflected my face. I was pleased that Niyaasi, a Turkish painter, had done a good job in painting the house.I hired him to repaint again after not being satisfied with the builders work
As I was climbing-up the steps I was taken aback.
I stopped. There were some dirty foot prints on the last few steps of the stair case.
Could it be that some creatures had possessed our home even before we could move in?
Some fecal droppings also could be seen on close observation. They were twice the size of that of the rats’.
I concluded that it was a possum.
From the Yellow Pages I contacted a pest-control agent. He told me that he would not only catch the possum but will also prevent them from entering the home in the future.
I added this cost of building the house.
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According to Australian statistics a family on an average would live seven years in a home. For Asians like us who have lived in one house for generations this was surprising. However after migrating we too could not avoid thinking on the same lines.
The tendency was to move into an up market area as your financial status improved, to go towards larger homes when kids were born, for parents to move back into smaller homes when their children leave and settle down in their own nests. All these were stages which came and went in the new lifestyle. Statistics confirm that the marriages breakdown and divorces are on the increase. Although this was a social problem it was a factor that boosted the housing market. With each divorce the demand for houses increases as both partners go in search of new homes. If a house was put up for sale twice in ten years, banks, mortgage organizations and even the governments get a cut of out it. The breakdown of husband and wife relationships was important only to the children and the statistics department.
There were no reasons like this between us. We had an emotional attachment to this house and I decided with the consent of my consort, to renovate the damages of a fifteen year old home and build an upstairs.
According to the advice of the architect we made a contract with a Chinese from Vietnam to renovate the home.
We could never forget the fifteen months it took to renovate the house. Husband-wife arguments went beyond the peaks. Whenever I was very emotional I used to remember the film of Baalu Mahendra (a famous film director of Tamil Nadu) ‘Veedu’ (house).
On seeing our pathetic situation our Australian neighbor said the following in English, “You had chosen ultimately to hand-over the renovation in the hands of a Chinese person. They only know how to cook deliciously.”
Racism filled words of consolation.
‘The great wall of China built by the Chinese is still in good standing’ I thought of saying but didn’t. The thought that we also become racist on some situations pricked me.
The next day I got a call from Niyaasi who was working in the washroom.
“A Possum had entered and is on top of the washroom window.’
“I’ll be there right away.”
I got an iron net cage from my work place in which we carry the cats and went home.
‘Possum is trying to occupy and dirty the home which we have spent so much to build.’ I drove the car hurriedly with anger.
Possum eat the fruits and live in some houses. Some Australians make a cage for them. There was not much bother. They run and play on the roofs during their mating season.
I had exhausted all my patience with the Chinese person who was renovating the house. I had no more of patience left to live tolerating the possum.
When I looked inside the washroom a male possum was seated in a corner with its tail tucked in. As soon as I saw the possum, my anger vanished.
The dead possums that were hit by the vehicles on the streets of Melbourne flashed into my mind. They do not understand the man made road rules. When cats and dogs are hit by running vehicles the owners or the municipality takes the responsibility of burying them, because the cats and dogs pay taxes. The Possum’s corpse remains on the roadside and rots.
The world was for everybody to live. How unrighteous it was for man to put lines of boundaries and divide the share! In Australia, more than anywhere else they had created damages very selfishly in a very short period if time, for the aboriginals and other living species.
Captain Cook and his sailors stopped over at the Colombo sea port on their way to Australia while carrying the male petty crime offenders and the women who were alleged of prostitution. They picked two men from there to cook for them and landed in Sydney Botany Bay.
We could ask in this current time whether the cooks were Tamils or Sinhalese?
Those who landed in Botany Bay did not consider the aboriginals as humans. They declared Australia as a region not inherited by human beings. They tried to kill the aboriginals to make their statement true.
According to the archeological research data, aboriginals have lived in Australia for more than forty thousand years. The Chinese followed the Europeans and came to get gold. To stop the coming of Chinese, ‘whites only’ policy came along. When this policy was about to be demolished in the seventies, Vietnamese refugees landed by boats. Finally Tamils also migrated.
Before humans could possess Australia in this manner from time to time, the animals called ‘marsupials’ were living here. They are the ancestors of the mammals in the evolution process. The former were the original descendents of this land.
Even rabbits, rats, and dogs were brought in by men.
Is it fair for an animal like this, an aboriginal being, to tuck his tail and shiver in front of me like a criminal! What a cruelty!
Guilty feelings were bombarding my mind. I become an authoritarian because I had two legs. For how many million years would the generations of this possum have lived on this earth! It is not even twenty years since I came to this country. Mankind is very selfish indeed. He is accumulating so much wealth for so long for his progeny. Would the humans who murder the members of their own race using power, money and arms, going to spare you? Should I be compassionate after all for a possum?
With all the human characteristics and knowledge and with the help of Niyaasi, I covered the possum with a thick cloth and placed it inside the cat cage and closed it.
It opened its eyes widely from inside the box, looked at me and asked for justice. Its tail was like a brush.
I have heard that the Brush Tail Possum like this would die if moved from one place to another.
But what could be done?
I left him on the tree in my hospital near my home.
In the next few days I caught two more possums and left them on the same tree. I fed them. I was happy to see them live as a family. I left some more food under the tree for them and left for home.
After the weekend I looked up the tree. Possums were not to be seen.
Have they gone in search of homes of humans’ with a loving heart? Have they lost their lives under the wheels of the cars?
* * *
My friend said when we were discussing about the current status of the aboriginals, “It is not only the Caucasians who are responsible for this state. All the other races who came after, too have to take justified responsibility.”
As far as these three possums were concerned I have also proved the truth in that statement.
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