This story is part of a family memoir in progress about the mystery behind Olivia Guntarik’s mother’s decision to migrate to Australia from Borneo in 1977, and the impact this decision had on her own life and the lives of her children.
The plane spirals round the airport and our descent begins. I am with my mother, without my brother. Out the oval window I see red earth cracked dry, and the rising ochre sun on the horizon. At night in our new house, the house we share with the boatman, Brisbane’s city lights cast a rose glow which I watch from my bedroom. Atop tall towers, the lights that warn the planes blink on and off, on and off, like tiny explosions in a sleepy futuristic city.
From the beginning, nothing was quite right about our situation. I was about to cross from of the familiar into the foreign, and was already feeling at odds with the world. The child that was me was at war. Explosive and temperamental. As quick to erupt into a territorial barking fit about my sister being ‘my baby’ as to burst into tears for being taunted at school. I still spoke with a trace of my Borneo accent but was rapidly shifting into the clanging new gears of Queensland speech patterns, what I heard some people call strine. Perhaps some of my bad temperedness derived from an unhealthy dose of the sherbet bombs Mum used as bribes, hidden in a glass jar on top of the fridge. But much of it must have stemmed from the events we had left behind, and the difficulties we now faced. I didn’t know that when moments of difference anger us, we blame the world and claim it has cheated us. We look outwards instead of into ourselves. I didn’t know yet how to comprehend the ways in which anger can secretly infiltrate your being, a black unventilated rage that discolours the world.
to KYD subscribers. Subscribe today »
Reasons to subscribe to Kill Your Darlings:
- Save up to 25% on RRP
- Free access to online editions
- KYD delivered direct to your door four times a year
- Be first to know about competitions, news, events, workshops and giveaways
- A whole bunch of warm-fuzzies for supporting independent Australian publishing