A Bird That Has Lost Its Song

Year: 1993
I am now well into my adolescence. The events of my childhood are still a mystery to me. All I was told about my history was that I was an orphan, who was kindly adopted by my foster parents; Mr and Mrs Johnson. I was named Charles Johnson. I had lived in a good house, where I had eaten good food and gone to a good school. But I still didn’t entirely fit in.
During my childhood, my foster parents encouraged me to read and learn as much as I could about England, which I felt to be overly suspicious. They had tried their best to make me get some friends. But not just with anyone, they encouraged me to make friends with English children. They also advised me to stay away from all dark-skinned and Asian people in the streets and at school. They tried not to use the phrase dark-skinned or black person in front of me, as they knew it would offend me.
After listening to all these things, I started to feel disconnected from my parents and the rest of the world. Or at least the world I knew. I was starting to find new comfort in the land I lived on and a newfound connection towards its culture. I started to wonder if I really belonged with the rest of the world. The fact that I had dark skin only made this reality more believable.
My parents, friends, teachers and everyone I ever knew, had white skin. I was the only boy in my whole class with dark skin. And to most people this didn’t indicate I was special, instead, it gave everyone a free pass to bully and harass me whenever they wanted. And at that time they were allowed to. At times I started to doubt myself, and believe that it was my fault I was different.
One day, while I was returning from school, a group of boys started following me. Before long they had caught up with me. One by one they started shouting slang phrases. Many of them I didn’t even know. Before long I had had enough. I turned around to protest against this appalling behaviour, but before a single word came out of my mouth, I found a fist in my face. Before I could even realise what had happened, blood spewed from my nose, in the way that lava would spew from a volcano.
Then a man shouted, “Leave that boy alone you devils!” That was all I heard. Guessing by his tone, the rest might not have been so kind. “We Aboriginal folk ought to stick together”. And before long he was gone. Suddenly I didn’t feel so doubtful.
Year: 1995
After two years, I have finally found my heritage. I am Watari of the Erawirung people. Born in 1968, I am one of the last members of the Stolen Generation. I have finally found my song.


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