Betting my bankroll

Saturday 31 May, 2014:

Couple of boys on bikes appear in the driveway. The visit seems unscheduled, so I just wait to see what eventuates.

Literally a minute later, I see Tau escorting them down the drive again in a friendly and low-key manner. A few minutes after that, he pads inside and says, “Ahem… sorry about that Miss.” The way he clears his throat suggests he is expecting to be slightly reprimanded.

But I tell him, “No need to be sorry at all, Tau. You handled that real good – I wasn’t worried about it for a second.”

Tau looks pleased. “I didn’t know they were coming,” he assures me. “They were just biking past and saw us. Me and Leroi explained it to them straight away. We just had to think how to say it.”

“I could see that you were dealing with it,” I say. “And it’s not that I don’t want you guys to have your friends over – but just the ones I trust, these days.”

“I know – and it’s algood, Miss,” Tau says at once. “We’re happy about it. We don’t want to go back to the old ways either. He thinks about it and goes on, “It’s a good buzz doing things differently – I want it to stay that way.”

They just keep on amazing me.


This evening the boys visit Sheree, round at her brother’s place: “They’re the brokest family I’ve ever seen,” Tau tells me. “But they’re used to it,” he adds with an equinanimous shrug.

The two of them leave armed with just three cans each. I take Tau to the liquor store to procure the goods, he having first asked me if they can have one at home before they go.

I agree to this, on the condition that no-one else comes around to drink, and it’s not a daily event or anything.

It’s obvious – well it is to me – why I have to be this pragmatic with Tau and Leroi. They need to know there’s at least one functioning adult around: someone who won’t go off the emotional deep end with them while they try and work things out. And it’s a privilege to be in that role. But at the same time, I got my big feelings too. And nowhere to put them. Absolutely nowhere to put them, unless it’s down on the page.


Monday 2 June:

Driving to school, in the clarity of the early morning, everything seems quite simple. I feel like I want to forgive anyone who’s ever hurt me. I can’t keep a single grudge alive as the mega-pixels of the day kick in, every leaf on every tree traced limpidly by the rising sun.

That feeling bathes my heart until I get to morning briefing and listen to an edifying address from Marjorie, about WiPC:E (World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education, which she attended in the holidays). I guess she had a good time, but her reminiscences on “these beautiful people” are a sore trial to me. She has this way of domesticating everyone and everything she encounters, filtering it through her personalized lens to present it as a sentimentally uplifting story.


Thursday 5 June:

On the way to the car this morning, laden with bags, I stumble on a stone that’s on the path, losing my footing for a second. Almost idly, the thought flashes up in my mind: At least if I broke my leg, I wouldn’t have to go to school.

This is laying me low and I can’t be laid low – I need to keep my energy simmering on some kind of minimum function. If I let it run out, then how am I going to find anything new?

Truth is, though, I don’t care about any of it, and even the merest pretending to do so seems less and less plausible.


Friday 6 June:

I enact my usual morning routine: breakfast; lappy; 3 News… I actually like getting ready for work in the morning. Getting dressed and doing my hair and makeup; looking nice and all. Feeling like there could be somewhere to be, and something useful to do.

It’s just school that isn’t useful anymore. There’s not one useful thing about it, apart from making money.  Guess there used to be… when I had my campaninos, and a reason to be there.

So today’s the day, I think. I’m going to mail my notice to Karys, and I guess I better cc her PA, and put a hard copy in her pigeonhole as well.


Of course, once I actually go through with it (at the end of the school day), I feel siiiiiick. Oh God, what have I done? – I mutter to myself.  Then I just pack up and get out of there.

On the way back home, I long for someone to comfort me. I grumble to myself: Where’s Kepaoa when you need him? The stray thought makes me laugh, which is not a bad thing.

It occurs to me that it’s been a whole year without Kepaoa. And I won’t lie, I miss all that stuff. Night rides, jumping into the car for the Municipal-Carthill run. Rugged up on our respective couches, watching Sky movies and listening to reggae. Bowls of noodles; toaster pinging; butter chicken on rice.

I miss it alright. And at the same time, I knew I was on a hiding to nothing; I think I always knew it. But for a little while, I was happy, when not much else made me happy. I felt… better, you know?

I’m never going to say a bad word about Kepaoa Alesi. I cared about him the exact way he was, violent side and all. Yes, he was a hustler, and I guess he hustled me too, but that wasn’t the whole story. In his way, he was an honorable person.


Sunday 8 June:

Wake up feeling all out of whack with everything.

had to give in my notice, I tell myself. I couldn’t stand it anymore (this phrase brings Argos to mind, suddenly and vividly).

All the same, I half-panic about the repercussions. Am I just getting caught up in a slipstream going the wrong way, about to be spat out into some chaotic, broke, mixed-up maelstrom?

I’m lucky to have a job.. aren’t I? Who knows if I can even get another one. I haven’t been shortlisted for anything yet – emails keep coming: we regret to inform you that on this occasion, we have not selected your application to proceed

So I wonder what the fuck I’ve done, and what’s going to happen, and how it’s all going to play out. Because I’m literally betting my bankroll on it.


I just head off to pump, anyway. Coming down the stairs after class, the woman behind me says, “Oh, thank God all that pain’s over,” and I just look back at her in silent empathy – and we start to laugh.


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