Progressive and reactionary mix, do opposites attract?

April 17, 2008 at 5:26 am (Fiction, Short Story) (, , , , , , )

Rachael and Andrew Mason resided in an inner city Sydney suburb and to all intents and purposes lived in matrimonal bliss to the wonderment of Rachael’s many friends.

Rachael was at the forefront of most progressive social issues from saving the Aborigines to saving the whales. Andrew on the other hand spent most of his time, since retirement from paid employment, in front of his computer or walking around the house muttering about: “the spirituality of indigenous” and the “power of Islam”. To the superficial observer this might be interpreted to mean that Andrew in some ways identified with Aborigines and Muslims in Australian society. An impression that would be contradictory, to say the least. Andrew’s only real exposure to Aborigines had been to inner city types mainly around Redfern. For the most part he considered these to be anything but spiritual. The only hunters and gatherers among them that he could see were those lurking around Redfern Station intent on snatching bags from unsuspecting passersby or poor ravished individuals begging for “spare change”. As regards Muslims he did not know too many apart from the young Lebanese Australians he saw misbehaving on the trains. On a philosophical level he considered Islam a rather misinformed theological and spiritual way of life that if unchecked could undermine Western Christian values. Of things historical and political he whole heartily agreed with George MacDonald Fraser that the British Empire was “the greatest thing that ever happened to an undeserving world”.

Rachael practically gave up on trying to change Andrew’s views, however, she did point out to him the family values of Aboriginal people and the beauty of Islamic art but this was only occasionally as it lead to futile arguments. Instead she got on with her life of involvement, fighting for various causes. Her social action in the fields of indigenous and multicultural affairs and in battles for social justice in general were recognized by the Australian Government with the award of the Order of Australia Medal.

Rachael and Andrew remained practising Catholics. In later life Andrew still attended Mass on Sundays and kept to most of the rules. He often asked himself if he still believed in it all. Certainly questions of transubstantiation became meaningless for him in later life but he still occasionally went to confession and usually confessed sins of illicit sexual desire, not of action, as there no longer remained much physical sexual ability in him. He did often say that Catholicism had ruined his sex life. For the last years of his married life to Rachael the marriage bed had been given up. They both seemed content enough with this. Andrew liked to say that in his own bed he could fart with impunity. Rachael’s religious practice did not put much faith in doctrine but she strongly related a love of God to a love of humankind.

In his seventies Andrew developed a chronic heart condition. His health became so bad that he was rushed to hospital for bypass surgery. Unfortunately he expired on the operating table.

Rachael was quite devasted with Andrew’s sudden death but she was cheered up with the provisions of Andrew’s will: Andrew had left the bulk of his estate to her but he had also left money so that the services of an Aboriginal elder and an Islamic iman could be employed at his funeral. He said he wanted the Aboriginal elder to perform a smoking ceremony and the iman to read Muslim prayers for the dead.

Rachael found that she had no trouble getting an elder but it proved impossible to get an iman. Apparently, “in the Quran, God prohibits all believers from offering prayers for disbelievers or idol worshippers regardless of whether they are dead or alive.” She suspected that Andrew would have known this and his request would have appealed to his sense of humour.

Rachael arranged a traditional Catholic funeral with the smoking ceremony and to replace the Muslim prayers she insisted that only sausages, mash and green peas with sao biscuits and tea be served at the wake. Andrew, she thought, would have liked this as food had always been a bone of contention in their marriage. She always liked exotic garlic and ginger laced food while Andrew’s liking was for tradional Aussie/English food.

In a sense the last laugh was with Rachael and Andrew would have liked that!


1 Comment

  1. Art Blog » Progressive and reactionary mix, do opposites attract? said,

    […] Stories by David Wall added an interesting post on Progressive and reactionary mix, do opposites attract?Here’s a small excerpt […]

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