Roanna Gonsalves is the author of The Permanent Resident, a collection of short fiction published by UWAP in November 2016. Her series of radio documentaries, On the tip of a billion tongues, commissioned and broadcast by Earshot, ABC RN, is an acerbic socio-political portrayal of contemporary India through its multilingual writers. She is a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award, and is co-founder co-editor of Southern Crossings. She has a PhD from the University of New South Wales. Follow her at roannagonsalves.com.au
The following has been excerpted from The Permanent Resident by permission.
Permanent Resident is available at leading bookstores in Australia, New Zealand and Goa. Also available for online purchase here.
Curry Muncher 2.0
When the spitters had settled down as the train began to move, I felt conflicting currents within me. I was conscious of my power as a young exotic-looking woman. I was equally conscious of the apprehension and anxiety I felt as an ethnic, an outsider with an accent. I was unsure, in the face of imminent thuggery, whether my salvation lay in being coquettish and charming, or in making myself as inconspicuous as possible, head down, eyes lowered to the floor like a bashful Bollywood heroine. I was alone upstairs, Vincent alone, downstairs. We were far away from the guard’s compartment, because the exit at our station was at the back end of the platform. I settled for the latter.
In the Beginning was the Word
Around the church were Sydney red gums, and jacarandas that blushed in November according to the rules. Father Bob had planted mint when he first got there. The mint had spread right around the perimeter of the church, wherever it could find a foothold in which to take root. When it flowered, its petals were like the other lips of women, surrounding the church, refusing to be ignored, as if reminding the church whence it came. Various priests and various parishioners had tried at various times to destroy the mint, but its flowers were shameless and shed their seed like so many inhibitions. Every time a new priest was assigned to St Mary’s, he organised a working bee to clean up the garden. The mint was pruned and in many cases uprooted, but in a few weeks new shoots, and in a few more, new flowers would grow. By then the new priests were not so new and the stones stained by fallen mint flowers trampled underfoot by the devout going to Mass were overlooked for more pressing issues, such as parish council meetings, births, death and marriages.