DUFFY BROTHERS’ CORNER – Neera Handa

You live around here STILL!”

She asks me while getting her wallet out of her red matching bag at the till, a bit too grand,

We have met by chance at the Duffy Brothers Vegie corner, where onions

are on special, the Spanish ones, $4.99 for a 10 kg bag!

I squint at the hanging tag

It is an expensive brand!

We had known each other years ago,

From the time of the playgroups, taking our little girls every second Thursday at the local church hall together

right after the English conversational classes

“I wonder if they still have them”, she looks at me,

Patting at my greying hair, I look away

Playgroups, run by good Samaritan local mums and volunteers

And those red and green plastic and dirty yellow, cups and saucers with orange cordial galore!

(it wasn’t called squash here, we had found out!) flash in my mind

and kids drinking at a great speed, racing for the second one

as if they had never tasted an orange drink before!

and embarrassed, we, the mothers, distributing already darkening cut apple, and bananas, and occasional fruit cake,

that Mrs Simms, she was not a mother, just a volunteer.

liked to bake!

“We should catch up, you know, the girls will like it!”

Last year, Keisha’s wedding invitation had come back undelivered.

it has been seventeen years,

Well, we had been friends, then!

Recent arrivals, same continents, similar cultures, neighbours, unemployed.

before she moved up the postcode ladder

over the years though a couple of cards found their reluctant way into my letter box,

she knew where, I still lived!

stuck in Auburn, the transit lounge, as we migrants called it then!

Did you get that job at the Migrant resource centre?

She is busy shaking something imaginary off her sleeve or maybe a stray onion skin

I had lent her my white blouse for her first interview, and there had been a few

for both us, but you know, one needs only one successful interview

we used to laugh a lot together, a few picnics, shopping, buying together, looking for bargains

saving up a bit each week, for a coffee and a Donut treat, we called it our high tea

She is thinner now, and looks much taller, in her black tights and high shoes

I count 7 dollars in my purse.

Just enough to pay for our coffees

“Auburn has changed a lot!” she is in a hurry to leave!

Maybe I will take some Oregano pizzas home!