AUNTIE AND THE GIRL

by Bill Reed

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AUNTIE AND THE GIRL

by Bill Reed

Dorothy is married to a South Asian surgeon who has been shot in a gang-related murder in Melbourne. She knows nothing about what’s behind this but she feels obliged to travel to his mother in Chennai to relate what little she does.

This, she dreads doing... not because of the Melbourne circumstances but because his once-Australian mother, who all call Auntie, doesn’t ever seem to remember who she is and certainly seems to have a deaf ear to her. That is the only thing deaf about Auntie. She is a scrawn, a whack job, a dizzy, shouting commands and bouncing around doing power-praying in her so-called God’s house. Her alarming day-to-day behaviour is exasperated by the girl Auntie has hired a few months back who is one who has the old girl’s measure. Surliness and plain old dumb disobedience beats screaming fits every time.

If trying to muster up Auntie’s comprehension wasn’t enough, Dorothy is soon reminded of her fury towards Auntie’s other son Navin who is a doctor specialising in fertility clinics and, of course, offering legal terminations to those who would prefer to try again for a son, rather than a girl. As screaming as Auntie is, Navin is absolutely obtuse to any moral problem with what he does; he looks at a broader picture -- that of the dimensions of an ultra-sound machine’s screen.

Nor does Dorothy bank on the physical manifestations of her husband’s killing coming to literally try to beat Auntie’s door down to get at her. It is as well Charles Ekanayake is staying there from Sri Lanka for his secondment to the Indian CID. He doesn’t mind broken legs on the front lawn.