Saturday, August 21, 2010


Just as the first light appeared in the morning, they heard a scream.
   "That was Mum!" Saranda cried, jumping up from bed. "Something's wrong!" She ran to the door.

   "It's one of her bad dreams," Dad noticed her in the doorway of their bedroom.
He was bending over Mum, who lay stretched out on the bed talking fast: "They are all dead, the village is on the fire...heelp!"  Her eyes were closed, and she fell asleep. Before leaving Saranda checked Victor in his cot. He snored peacefully.

   "What's going on?" Dardon's figure in long pyjamas appeared in the corridor.

   "It was only a nightmare," Saranda pushed him back to his room: "Go back to sleep, today Mrs Hysa will take us to the museum."

Saranda went back to her room and sat on her bed looking around. The dawn made everything misty and unreal. Her small room with a built-in-wardrobe, a simple desk and a tiny side table was full of shades. Suddenly she remembered the place, Jack had told her about. It took her only a minute to pull on her pants, long sleeve shirt and sneakers. She picked up her scarf and thought for a while. Finally she let it drop on the bed and tiptoed out of her room.
Passing the main bedroom, she could hear Mum's quiet weeping. She hurried up to the front door. Outside a balck cat was crossing her path. It made her shiver. Saranda watched from their doorsteps as the edge of morning was beginning to break in the East. For a second or two she stood there sniffing the fresh air. She could tell that it was going to be a warm day. The front gate squeaked, so she turned back and listened. The simple white house was quiet in the dark.

When she entered the deserted station, the first train had already been there. The view from the fast train gave her a sweaping picture of the old sleepy port ahead and the dark ocean beyond it.
Saranda enjoyed being out in Fremantle alone. It made her feel part of real Australian life, and she started to wish secretly that she'd been born here. But then she touched her golden sun and felt guilty. Approaching the centre of town she felt like a ghost. The fancy apartments and colourful shops were dark and quiet as was the whole city.
Only a few joggers passed her by. Saranda left the main street and swung onto a small side street. It was all a bit vague and hazy. Slowly she passed through it and found herself near the ocean. Saranda felt a sense of gentle peace under the rising sun. She sat down on the deserted beach. Nothing could have been more peaceful that the gentle waves of the Indian Ocean under that huge wakening Australian sky.

    "Lucky, come back, Lucky!" A big dog came dashing across the sand and leaped around her legs. Saranda froze looking into his huge curious face.

    "I don't know whether she is scared or not...what do you think, Lucky?" Kathy chuckled behind Saranda's back and hugged the dog tightly.

   "He gave me the creeps." Saranda smiled and patted his huge hairy back.

   "That's the point." Jack came and scratched the dog's ear gently. "He is our new guard dog, we found him a week ago, and he was starving and lucky to meet us."

   "Let's have breakfast." Kathy flopped next to Saranda and handed everyone hamburgers, including Lucky, who finished his in one bite. "There was good deal at Mac's today, one 'buck' only, she tried to explain with her mouth full.

   "You had no money." Jack pointed out.

   "So what, I pinched it from a tray," she winked at Saranda and then burst out laughing, her curly hair danced around her round, dark face.

The breakfast was gobbled in bites between bursts of exciting talk. Saranda hadn't  felt so free and happy for a long time. She touched her neck but the golden chain was not there. She rubbed her forehead with a worried hand.

    "Where is my chain, where is it?" Saranda burst out and jumped to her feet. Then as if she regretted the outburst, her voice became calmer. "It must be somewhere here..." They watched curiously as Saranda was digging in the sand.

   "I know who this golden thing belongs to?" Kathy started to laugh holding the chain above the dog's nose.

In sudden anxiety Saranda turned and rushed at Kathy: "You are a thief, give it back," she grabbed the chain.
"It's broken, my Granny, I have broken my promise." Her voice dropped to a whisper.

They looked puzzled. Kathy sat next to Saranda and hugged her. A single sob welled up from somewhere deep down and shook Kathy's shoulders: "Sorry, don't have anything so..." A big lump rose in her throat: "So  posh, I wanted only to try..."

   "It's supposed to bring me good luck," Saranda sobbed.

   "Luck," Jack said, "only helps people who knows how to use it." He took the chain form her hand and looked at the golden sun closely.

   "The golden sun has been bringing life to the people of Kosovo for hundreds of years. When winter ends over there and spring is coming, the golden sun brings warmth, good spirit and life back to the mountain villages. It's a special sun. Magical." To her own surprise Saranda found herself telling them the old Albanian legend about the golden sun.

   "It's like one of the Kathy's Aboriginal stories," Jack said  handing her back the broken chain: "I can't fix it."

   "Come on." Kathy said abruptly pulling Jack's back. "Maybe uncle Toby can fix it, come on, Lucky, let's go home."

After they left the beach, Jack shot up another street and fetched four cream buns from a shop and they munched them siting on the pavement near the Fremantle Market. The entrance filled up with first people looking for some fresh fish and vegetables.
After a while the first families appeared, strolling by in the sunshine, stopping occasionally to chat to some friendly faces enjoying their breakfast on the cafe strip.

   "I hate these Sundays, can you imagine, me as a boy, doing the same with my Dad and Mum, when she was alive..." Jack spat on the pavement and chucked his half finished bun in a nearby bin.

   "I think I can see my cousin playing the Didgeridoo inside," Kathy jumped out and Lucky waved his tail ready to follow her. "You stay here!" Kathy pointed at him and ran inside the market.

Jack and Saranda turned around to see playing dark figure in the middle of the shopping hall surrounded by a few tourists. He was blowing into a long wooden tube making strange deep music. Some of the shoppers stopped and put some coins into his old hat.
Kathy bent next to his ear and he made some signs with his fingers without stopping to play.
Soon she was back and waved them to follow her. When they reached the bus station a group of Aboriginal women and children were sitting and chattering on the benches aside. the little ones had round cheeks and curly hair and they could never keep still. Kathy and Jack joined them but Saranda stayed aside watching them with open curiosity.

Suddenly an old yellow sedan stopped next to them. A driver, an old man in tattered T-shirt, started to shout at the group. She heard hurrying footsteps and someone grabbed her hand. They all managed to climb in and the vehicle took off with a roar. Saranda found herself squished between two jolly women, one had a restless baby who jumped on her knees. The car echoed with singing and laughter. She couldn't understand their strange English, but she didn't feel uncomfortable.
The car suddenly stopped and the women hurried out picking up their shopping bags and babies. The rented house was surrounded by ground overgrown with weeds. There were some old men sitting on the shabby verandah. Their boisterous noise and laughter knew no end.

   "Now, let's go in." Kathy said after she hugged half of the family. The inside was as crowded and noisy as the outside of the moderate house. Saranda tried to follow Kathy through the living room full of smiling children and surprisingly found Jack and Lucky playing with them happily.

   "Uncle Toby, uncle Toby," Kathy screamed as they entered the small backyard. The old, dark man was painting something on the ground.

   "Hullo, Miajna Kadi, your uncle is happy to see you." He turned around and smiled so brad that they could see his missing teeth. he held a small stick in his hand as he raised his dark arm in greeting.

    "What does it mean...let's me guess, a myall on some walkabout and there...there he found a waterbird's egg." Kathy pointed excitedly to a colourful picture full of white dots.

    "He lived a long time ago on his tribal land, before the white fellow came and started to live on this land that didn't belong to him..." the old man sat with his legs crossed, his eyes closed and started to talk in broken English.

In some way Saranda found the story similar to the tales from her homeland, which she had lost. Suddenly the kids came screaming outside chased by Jack and Lucky. realising that it was the Dreamtime story time, they sat down around Uncle Toby and stayed quiet until he finished.
Jack found a place on the doorstep. Soon a tall boy about his age joined in with a didgeridoo: "Come on, Tajurra, you haven't practised it for a long time," he handed the instrument laughingly to Jack.

Jack tried to blow it and managed a couple of deep sounds. When the boy started to play, a powerful and strange music filled the whole area. The children started to move with the rhythm of the music pretending to be an Emu picking some seeds and a hopping Kangaroo. Saranda kept sitting next to Uncle Toby, who was starring now curiously at her jeans. She smiled shyly and noticed that a piece of her long-forgotten scarf popped out from her pocket. He gestured to her to give it to him.

    "Interesting," he exclaimed studying closely the details of the Islamic design on the scarf: "Made in Pakistan, hmm," Uncle Toby looked at her again with a broad smile: "I think, I will take it."

    "Fine," Saranda shook her head in disbelief, what in earth he could see on this piece of head cover, "I have plenty of them at home."

    "Tajurra, Miajna Kadi and your friend, if you need a lift, I'm leaving now," someone yelled next to the outside door. Kathy jumped and took the golden chain from Saranda's hand.

    "Oh, Uncle Toby I need you to fix this, I'll come back to pick it up later, thanks." She put the chain in front of him. He put it in his pocket and continued to paint.

    "Let's go." She pulled a surprised Saranda and they ran until they saw the moving car and Jack trying to jump in.

   "Wait, waait for us." Kathy waved and soon they squished into the crowded car. saranda was sweating and the heat outside reminded her that it was almost lunchtime.

   "Thornlie, could you please tell the driver to take me there," she shouted in Kathy's ear over the noise.

Soon she saw familiar train station and one of the streets close to her house: "Hey, stop here." Saranda shouted from the back and turned to Kathy: "My house is on the next street, thanks for the trip and..."

    "See you next time 'somewhere in the great outdoors', " Kathy winked at her as she jumped from the  moving car. Saranda waved until the Aboriginal singing and laughing disappeared with the car and she suddenly felt very lonely.

She entered their front yard. There was no one there. The clinking of the cutlery inside reminded her of lunch and their prayer time. Saranda entered the house in a sudden panic and ran through the corridor as fast as she could. At the end she bumped into Mrs hysa, who was holding Victor in her arm: "Where've you been, you're lucky your Dad huried to Morque early morning and didn't find out..."

   "Saranda, we were supposed to go to the museum and because of YOU..." Dardon peeped out of his room at her but Mrs Hysa patted his hair: "It's OK, Dardon, we can go next time, anyway, your Mum doesn't feel very well," she looked back at Saranda: "You better go and help you Mum with lunch, you Dad will be here any minute."


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