Sat reading after a rather good chicken curry lunch at Diggers.
Yes, still enjoying The Daughters of Mars.
…Passage after passage in Daughters grabbed me with a crushing intensity. Archimedes sinks after a torpedo attack. Medical personnel and the wounded flail in the frigid ocean alongside screaming teams of horses. “Men still on the ship were now reduced to jumping from the stern or sliding down its curves. She saw two land in the churning propeller which cut them in sections and threw their blood about in a terrible mist so instant you could doubt it had happened.”
Keneally’s prose gets across the private thoughts, terrible fears and hard-won joys of young women in harrowing circumstances. It reveals the up-close realities of the teeming casualty clearing stations, a soldier’s face “shorn off,” the specific types of gas that were just then being unleashed on the soldiers. A crippling influenza afflicts nurses and patients alike, a true reflection of the millions of flu deaths during the war. But passion, wonder and tenderness are ready for their close-ups, too: stolen kisses furtively exchanged, a romantic visit to an Egyptian pyramid, a nurse who wears woollen gloves in a freezing ward so that she will not assault a patient’s skin with her cold fingers…
I had also bought The Saturday Paper, as our local newsagent didn’t have it at the weekend. Did the crossword. And was struck by this story of Hazara asylum seekers in Indonesia which told me things I hadn’t known before.
When Sakhizada flew out of Kabul airport for Delhi on January 28 last year, he says he was not primarily concerned with where he would resettle. His first aim was to get a long way from Afghanistan.
“I felt that I could get killed at any time. Everything changes when it’s like that, your mind is not on the correct path,” he says.
Sakhizada’s work as an interpreter for the US military had made him a target for the Taliban. Afghan Hazaras, an ethnic minority who are Shiite, have also long been persecuted by members of the Pashtun majority, who are Sunni.
Sakhizada can’t bring himself to talk about what happened to his younger brothers and sisters on the night the Taliban came to kill him. But he says his mother was beaten and his father has not been seen again. The last time Sakhizada spoke to his father, he told him to flee through a first-floor window as armed men threatened to break down the front door of their home in Parwan province….
Under Operation Sovereign Borders the Australian government has turned asylum-seeker boats back into Indonesian waters since September. But while the Australian Navy has acted as “the stick” in disincentivising those willing to chance it with the people smugglers, “the carrot” has been less publicised.
A 2012 report by the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers to the government recommended an increase in resettlement places from UNHCR Indonesia as one means of shifting “the balance of risk” away from dangerous boat journeys.
Out of a total refugee and asylum seeker population of 10,466 registered with the commission in Indonesia, Australia currently accepts about 700 a year, about 70 per cent of whom are from Afghanistan….
And keeping dry? See Flooding closes road, train line(Illawarra Mercury) and Wild weather rocks Sydney: One dead, two hit by lightning.