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One Old Man and One Old Kangaroo

Beata works as a qualified primary school teacher, a councillor for drug and alcohol addiction and a farm caretaker for organic olive grow.

Once upon time when my kids were small and we just moved to a farm we have found an abandoned joey.

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His mum threw him out her pouch after she was hit by a car in her desperate last attempt to save him.

We found him and raised him. It was a good lesson for my children to take turns to feed him every four hours a special, marsupial milk we had to buy from the Noah Arch wildlife shelter. We had little money to spare so kids kept saving their pocket money so our little joey could live. I was warned by the Noah Arch’s volunteers not to keep joey too long to become too domesticated and infused with human smell that wild kangaroos might find too threatening to welcome him back.

It was bittersweet experience for us to see him go. We all cried tears of loss but also tears of happiness seeing him to be free again.

Time went on and my kids grew up moving to cities to live more comfortable life and expand their carriers. I stayed on the old farm looking after the bush and organic orchards while my old kangaroo watched me from the nearby bush. The abandoned injured dingo we have found up the north that become our farm dog watched him cautiously and my big ‘roo’ was equally wary, both of them smart enough to keep their distance.

One early morning I heard shooting and rushed to the fence where my old ‘roo’ lied in a pool of blood.

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The bullet shattered the bone in his hind leg.

When I enquired about the shooting the old farmer who stood there proud of his catch and his rifle still propped against his waist pointed angrily at the fence: “Damaged it bastard, will cost me now to repair it, bloody nuisance these kangaroos digging under fences and eating roots of my grass. What my cattle supposed to eat? You tell me!”

Kangaroos were here before even Aboriginals moved in 40,000 years back.” I sighed nursing my kangaroo’s leg.

He continued: “I am a proud white Australian, my family farmed this land for hundreds years. They need it to survive in this harsh environment and anything that stood in their survival, be it these bloody kangaroos or those hopers Aboriginals who never learnt to make profit from this land, had to go. It is the way it is.”

I ignored him trying to save my kangaroo but my silence made him more adamant to say more.

I know where you from and you can be lucky to be allowed to live here and look after other people’s farm, I tell you that, very lucky. Your father was refugee, wasn’t he?”

I am a migrant and Australia allowed me to settle here only because I had two universities with seek after qualifications to be useful and with young children to rise your population but yes my father was a refugee and it is shameful what Australia does to their boat people who try to reach the safety of its shores.”

He smirked: “Refugees deserve their fate and Australia is right to let their boats sink or lock them up in Indonesia so they learn they can only come the right way as you have done.”

My father had no papers on him when he nearly drowned trying to swim across the border to the safety while communists were shooting at him. It was matter of death or life to him. There was no time to wait for the Australian stamp of approval to let him in and without him I would not be here or alive either.”

Life is tough my dear, all we can do is to try to survive and you do not survive by being sentimental. This land prospered because we worked hard, us true blue Australians and we made profit. You have to be proud of who you are and defend your country against anyone who is in your way to make a profit, simple as that.”

With these partying words he turned his back on me and fortunately his rifle too and our conversation was finished in his eyes. It was Sunday and time to rush to his community church to pray to God for a good profit on farm and help his fellow worshippers who he feels are worthy of his help. He considers himself a good kind man who look after his family and his farm and his country. On Monday he will go back to his spraying routine to make grass grow faster with the help of chemicals so his cattle can grow fatter faster and he makes good profit. That is what life is about, no?

I have buried my old kangaroo .

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There was nothing else left to do just to continue to attend to my organic garden.

I end up brushing away the chemical droplets that blew across the fence in sudden wind. Back in the safety of my old farm cottage I brushed dust from the old frame that hold a picture of joey with one of my daughters and suddenly realized that it is the only photo I have of him. Maybe it is the best that way. It was the time when joey was young and kindness was still around us, it seemed to me.

One has to learn to appreciate everything even the pain

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It is the pain we deserve for wanting so much from nature and giving back nothing or only death.

. I wanted to ask my neighbour where and when in that sudden pursuit of national pride and profit making at any cost one can cross that invisible border from kindness to unkindness? Do we even realise when we cross the line and what will be the cost of crossing it to all of us?

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