street life

find your kind

find your kind
Written by Cathoel Jorss,

Heart-curdling rage in the city today. I was in a crowded shopping street when a man began to roar at his son. He was bantam-weight, wiry, blond, apoplectic: the boy looked six or seven at most. His little sister, used to keeping out of it, hung her head and looked away. Around them hundreds of people turned their heads – it was loud, roaring, full-bore, insanity’s volume. Shopping bags rustled, buskers busked. I stopped. A teenaged boy on a bicycle stopped too. I laid my hands flat on the air in front of my stomach, a placatory gesture. “Please,” I said. “Calm yourself. Your children are frightened.”

He didn’t hear, didn’t answer, knew in that instant no one but themselves and his own swollen, massive entitlement to rage. He roared and roared, putting his face close to the child. The boy was bent double, both his arms rigid, pulling back and curving his body away from the danger as far as he could. The man held him by both hands in one large fist, the other hand making big threats in the air. I exchanged glances with the boy on the bicycle. I put one hand on each little dark head, smoothed and cupped them. Their soft hair, their stiff little faces. “There’s no need to shout like that. He can hear you. We can all hear you. You’re frightening him.”

Giving me a vile look he dragged the child away. The girl followed willingly, willlessly I suppose. The man was blond and Nordic, red in the face; the little children looked to be Moroccan maybe or Egyptian. To my shame I was wondering how did this blond man get hold of these two small, dark children. Perhaps he was married to their mother. Perhaps they were his by blood, though none the more his to abuse and to frighten. Perhaps they were adopted. Maybe, stolen. I walked round the corner where they had gone, fretting and wondering, my heart a drum. The teenaged man on his bicycle came behind and I saw him swoop past the man and call out something. The man shouted back. My ears were filled with an army of blood. Making a determined effort I crossed the narrow laneway and caught up with them. “Sir,” I said, “sir, do you speak English? Please stop. Let me talk to you.”

He turned and snarled, he raised his fist and planted it two feet from my face. “You’re not from here,” he sneered, “you know nothing.” I said, “Listen. You don’t need to frighten your children. Look at them: they’re terrified of you. Be gentle. Be kind. Find your kindness. Please!”

He made a feint at me, not meaning it, just wanting to put me off. “Fuck you,” he shouted. “Fuck off!” I cupped my hand round the little boy’s nape. Probably he spoke no English at all. “Are you alright, little boy? Are you ok?”

The poor darling. His father, the monster, dragged him away, gesturing curtly for the girl to follow. He was still detailing to the child in coarse roaring snorts how the boy was at fault, was faulty, would amount to nothing. I hope for the boy’s sake he saw that of those six hundred people who didn’t know what to do, there were two who could not accept he be treated that way. It’s not ok, you are someone, you exist and we can see you. Maybe that is a candle that keeps him alight until he can run away into the world. I did nothing, I made it worse, it’s not about me. Despairing I bellowed after the man, a last effort: “Be a real man and protect the children!”

A girl came out of a shop, wondering. I showed her what had happened – the boy dragged around the corner, disappearing now, hanging back as hard as he could. She said, “Oh, my god. How could he.” We stared into each other’s gentle, sane eyes. “If he’s that loud, in public,” I said, slowly, “if he feels that entitled to shout and scream in the middle of a Saturday afternoon right here – imagine what he’s like at home.”


4 comments on “find your kind

  1. oh hell, Cathoel, you have just brought me slap into something i witnessed last week in beenleigh. Reading this, I realise i need to write it out also. Hopefully the more people read these sensitive and brave accounts of witness to abuse, the more they’ll feel similarly touched to act as you did. Those children may very well remember you and pushbike guy, just as you said, all their pitiful lives. I remember my own ‘Big W bloke’ and I shrink in horror of how entitled indeed these abusers are feeling. I’m just so sickened. Jenx

    jennifer jackman April 10, 2014 at 9:49 pm

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