I’ve just come from lunch with two very special people in my life: my cousin and good friend Anna and my Aunty Sandra. Aunty Sandra is sort of my surrogate mother when she’s in Brisbane, since my own mother abandoned me went to live out Whoop-Whoop (Australian slang for the boonies or boondocks) with her husband, Swami Guru Sam. (My step father happens to be five years older than me but he’s as grey as Einstein was, same hair-do even. Sometimes I wonder if he isn’t the incarnation of the great scientist himself; he shares Einstein’s eccentricity, wit, charm and philosophical prowess. But like Einstein he’s very modest about his qualities.)
My first memories of Aunty Sandra involve macaroni, and a homemade circus my siblings and cousins had put on for our parents and grandmother. Throughout our show my Aunty clapped and cheered as we sang and performed daring (read humiliating) tricks with Jedha the ferocious black kitten. Best of all she was such a good sport and allowed herself to be the butt of a rather cheeky prank. As a child I knew Aunty Sandra as a warm, fun, but somewhat mysterious person – she was my eccentric aunty from exotic Hong Kong, who always carried herself with grace and was never without a funny story about herself or her life. Her presence was magnetising for me. It still is. Every time I see her I feel as if I have touched a little bit of magic. I smile longer, laugh louder, feel more connected. This connection is more than just familial. I believe I have an independent link to each member in my family, beyond geonological relationships. Every one of them enriches me as a person and as a writer: My husband is mood stabiliser, educator, best ally, best friend, anchor, hemisphere. My mother is soul satisfaction, a compass, shelter, the reinforcement, endorsement and authentication for my life. My sister is Chuddy (a chum and buddy), she is playmate, she’s funny voices and stupid laughing, she’s deep soul connection. My brother is integrity, a yardstick by which I measure other men, he is guardian, he is chiverly. Swami Guru Sam is my external ear, a fellow freak, a receptacle for my crazy ideas, and a manufacturer of crazy ideas. Cousin Anna is home cooked meals, she is eye to eye, and happy days. Aunty Sandra is nurture, creativity, effervescence. She is remember to play and to create. Everyone I know and love have unique personalities and irreplaceable roles. These are the kinds of characters I want to read and write about. What would my characters say about each other, I wonder?