19 January 2013

Ranjini should have a photo album

When my second daughter was on her way, some friends of mine gifted me a photo session (with credit for photos) so that we could have some professional snaps taken.  Today, with the cheeky monkey almost ten months and her sister almost two years and four months - we went in and performed like a deranged circus act to have them look in the same direction while two very patient women snapped a trillion photos of them. 

And then we sat down and went through the photos and loved pretty much all of them. Those talented ladies caught some brilliant moments. 

Now is a precious time with our girls.  Both of them have really distinctive personalities emerging and a genuine love of each other's company.  The younger is learning to walk and clap and high five.  The elder is exploring language and dance and stories.  They are remarkably alike and yet very different and we document daily.  Photos on our iPhones or the camera, video footage and old fashioned notebooks.  Their every moment is precious and we adore seeing them interact with the world around them.  I don't trust my memory so I put it all down so that they can see when they are older what we thought, how we saw them and what we hoped for their futures.

And I am aware, every step of the way, like the bleeding heart that I am, that people like Ranjini and her three boys are being denied the same freedoms.  The same opportunity to document their histories and their stories and record wrinkled brows, thumb sucking, pursed lips, raspberries, bruised knees, family hugs, and that myriad of banality that is universal yet so intensely personal.

Because the wrinkled brow of your newborn is so much more wondrous to behold than any of the others. so many moments are fleeting, beautiful, unrepeatable. 

And with over 90 per cent of refugees found to be genuine in every way I can not work out how the government in any form or in any name can justify Manus Island, Naru, indefinite detainment.  I can not comprehend how we lock up the Ranjinis without recourse.  We are living in Australia in 2013.  We are contravening accepted UN behaviours.  We are fostering fear.  We are depriving people of liberty.  In 2013.    We are not allowing families to put together photo albums, build histories, integrate.  We are not allowing meaningful input and the sharing of knowledge.  

If Ranjini is so dangerous - monitor her in the same way you monitor people who have given you justification.  Have her touch base daily with her local police station, randomly drug test her or question her.  Whatever you think is working to keep us safe from the genuine criminal element born here.  But let her be with her husband.  Let the other 'nameless Ranjinis' out.  Let them put together photo albums, stories of first bike rides, pencil marks on doorframes to mark off the growth of their children, have cross words about school report cards.  Let them argue like all parents of small people, let them worry about the cost of school shoes, where they can find childcare, where the eldest two are picking up such terrible language.  Let them laugh at the bad jokes, let them write to their families, let them donate to the bushfire appeals, vote on The Voice.  Let them breathe. 

And if they are evil, if they are planning wrong, if they have lied - prove it and then punish them.  Don't punish them while you try and prove it.  That is not who we are. That is not good parenting.  That is not good government.  That is not good anything.  

That is bullshit.