Day 40, Sorry Business

desert-sand-australia-aboriginal

17 September 2013

They say nothing goes in a straight line in the Northern Territory. Rather, time zigzags a path, usually dropping you somewhere other than where you anticipate, or even imagine possible.

Today is another one of those days and I retrace my steps homewards through the dazzling heat of the day.

There are many reasons why an appointment might fail in town. Most sadly, for Arrarnta and Arrernte people, the reason is often because of “Sorry Business”. Sorry Business occurs after the death of a family member. In Alice Springs the average life span of an Aboriginal man is just under 45 years, worse even than the Australia-wide average for an Aboriginal man of 59 years.

I am only in Alice Springs for 2 weeks, yet in that short time, and with the very small pool of people I have met, I encounter Sorry Business no less than three times.

One such encounter is when we are sitting in the garden having dinner, lingering around a pleasant fire with the gentle night noises. Suddenly the night is split open by a roar of heavy metal. A band, meant to be playing at Santa Teresa, has set up in the car park down the road. Sorry Business has shifted them here.

Not much sleep tonight. The dogs are also joining in, and the talking galah next door.

(A link to an ABC radio programme about the life expectancy of Australian Aboriginal people is now up at the Australia Digital Resources page of the blog)

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