101 Stories of Racism

“Are you his Nanny?”

That was Russell Vale school.
He came with grandpa.
For his soccer lesson, looking cool.
Only eight years old,
curious enough about his world.

He watched my boy.
Only eleven months old.
Couldn’t wait to be up and running.
“Are you his nanny”, boy asks.

I stop chatting with his grandpa.
“What makes you ask that?
What do you think?” I say.

“You must be his nanny. You look different.
What country you’re from?”
He knows other countries.
I am amazed.

“I am from India” I say.
“So you are not Australian. I am Australian.
Is he Australian?”

He doesn’t wait. “He is Australian, I know.”
He continues, pointing at my baby.
I look at him. And at my baby.
“Why do you think I am not … he is…?”

His grandpa joins us.
“I too am not Australian, buddy.
I came from Ireland, long time ago.”
Boy thinks not.
“Noooo! You are Australian.”
“No, I’m not.” “Yes, you are.”
“Then she too is. She lives here, like us.”
“No. She is not. But he is, the baby.”

Grandpa looks at me. The baby. And him.
“Why do you think so?”
“Because he looks like us. She doesn’t.
She is different. She is his nanny.”

“Is your mum your nanny too?”
I hear my Voice.
“Noooo! She is just my mum”.
I smile.
“Hey, you know my secret?
I am his mummy
and nanny too.
I am different.”

O Boy!
Does that make me
the Other?

-Vinathe Sharma. April, 20, 2005, Wollongong


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