The train slides into Papakura. It’s one of those old trains and it pulls dirty vinyl red seated carriages.
The boys walk over the dirty over bridge. Some get in Range Rovers, big new SUVs, Mummy’s BMW or Audi.
He walks out of the station past the Police Station and the entrance to the grubby Countdown. Across the road past the spot in the carpark the drug dealers like because it’s so dark but so accessible.
He walks up the ramp past the cars and as he opens the door she starts to close down the computer.
He sits and waits on one of the blue woollen covered chairs in the euphemistic reception. There are a lot of plants in this office. He wonders how old people get up off these low blue chairs they found in the second hand shop round the corner.
They pull into the small road fronting carpark of the Golden Something. It’s Friday Night – they have takeaways.
They have orchestrated the event. He smiles at and greets the owner behind the long line of stainless gleaming rectangles. The owner smiles back.
He picks up the polystyrene container – medium. Not small and not large but medium. Large costs more. Small is too small.
With his practiced eye he surveys the steaming line. He ignores the rice, the chips, the noodles and under the watchful eye of his provider he spoons chicken and pork and beef into his container. He ignores the crispy noodles and the dumplings but this week he adds a flower of prawn flavours delicately on top of his treasure.
The chicken wings beneath the flower have taken his haul up over the edge of his container. ”Do not overfill your container” says the large sign.
The boy smiles as he hands his warm polystyrene box to the smiling owner. He closes the lid. She hands him $12. and he smiles at her.
He carries the smooth white sarcophagus shape to the car.
They drive down the long rural road to their home.
She opens the fridge and takes out the container of rice she cooked last night. He gets the bag of crispy noodles from Countdown out of the cupboard.
She takes out two large white plates – the plates they’d finally saved up to buy in a Farmer’s sale at Manukau City.
She puts some rice on one plate and a lot on the other.
He eats the prawn flavoured flowers while he divides the bounty – a lot for him and some for her.
They microwave to steaming then add some of the crispy noodles.
They sit at the long old rimu table and eat. Then she washes the plates.
She’s often wondered why the man at the Golden Something never admonishes them for their selectivity. Never points out they are putting large into medium. Never points to that sign or charges them more than medium.
Is it because he looks out at the old faded station wagon as it pulls into his little carpark and he knows he is more affluent, better off than these Kiwis and can afford the laxity of generosity to this woman and this boy?
Is it because the boy is tall and gangly ….. and brown? Obviously Asian but what and from where?
Is it because the boy always says “Good Evening, how are you” acknowledging his humanity seeing the person who night after night stands there smiling?
Smiling at Pakeha who push hard on the doors of his shop as they swing in out of winter. Who don’t look at him as they pick up their containers who avoid his eyes even at that intimate point of contact – the cash register.
Or has he noticed that the boy’s shorts have become too short and too tight?
Is he remembering?
He’s licking the red sauce from the last chicken wing when he says “you’ll have to buy me some new shorts; these hurt when I sit down.”
They both laugh.
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. She purchases her power from Trustpower and is a beneficiary of the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
TAURANGA ARTS FESTIVAL
Established in 1999, we are Tauranga’s flagship Arts Festival. We deliver a biennial Arts Festival, and in the alternate year Escape! The little Festival with big ideas. We deliver a world-class programme direct from leading artists and performers at the peak of their practice. Our 2021 programme will look different as international travel remains restricted, but it wont be lacking the wow factor, that will open your mind to new experiences.
Join us for 10 days and nights in October, as we bring you the 2021 Tauranga Arts Festival. It’s a live experience that happens right here in Tauranga.
Our next festival is 21 – 31 October 2021.