Thursday, 7 August 2014

Nagging presentiment(胸騒ぎ)

Imperial chinaI was taking a public bus for the city center one afternoon.  I saw an Australian man waiting at a bus stop but not signaling for the bus to stop.  He was too busy reading a book.  Naturally the driver drove past.  The Australian man finally looked up and started running after the bus banging on the door.  The driver reluctantly opened it but his kindness was met with an outburst of the Australian passenger.  ‘It was rude of you to have driven past me!’  ‘But you did not signal!’  ‘Yes, I did!’  

Now I can understand how embarrassingly annoying it must be for the local to be corrected by an immigrant, but would this Australian passenger still have lied had the driver been a white man like himself?  Upon seeing that he could not get out an apology (what a nerve) from the coloured driver, the young man started taking down the driver's name while threatening.  ‘I am going to report this to your boss!  He would believe me over you!’  Then he got off without paying the bus fare.  The poor driver sighed in despair.  Not unusual occurrence in Sydney scene.  All I could do was smile with sympathy at the driver when I got off, because we were both in minority in number.  Several years ago when Australian society was financially egalitarian, there may have been one or two Australians willing to stand up for the ethnic driver, but these days…I have been made to feel vulnerable.  The last straw was when an Australian old man tried to shoo away my aged mother with a stick so he could sit in a bus.  She was shivering with fear.  I could not help thinking about the fear more sinister felt by a group of Chinese people on 4 July 1857.  

White miners were joined by Chinese miners in the Buckland area of Australia during the Gold Rush period.  The white miners accused the Chinese diggers of 'stealing' their gold and taking their land and suddenly Lambing Flat massacre happened.  The Chinese miners were killed while their lodgings were burnt down.  However, 157 years later, the  presence of Chinese people is strongly felt in Australia.  When I recently took a train to the western suburbs of Sydney, it was hard to spot white Australians among the vast number of Chinese and other immigrants.  Whatever move the Chinese government makes will affect Australian economy, or so it seems.  It is as if the souls of those Chinese murdered during Buckland riot have come back for revenge.  But then…so could have the souls of those white attackers.  The latter would not make distinction between Chinese and my people, I am afraid.





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