Ch 3. The pig dog never goes away

Kate Bricknell 2014 

Kate Bricknell 2014 

Sometimes the pig dog will sit quietly in the back of the classroom. Even its breath cannot be heard over the noise and activity of the young people. Sometimes it is quiet for so long that you forget to remember that it never goes away....

It was hot. The scorching heat of a far West summer was cloaking us; a varnish of sweat lay over each child and adult. We were sitting and chatting on the last day of school. Inevitably the conversation led to what were the Christmas plans of each of us. One was off to the beach; one was going camping, one to see grandparents, one was going to Sydney and one.... one was quiet.
I should have heard the pig dog growl.... I should have felt its hot breath on my neck as it stalked the child in front of me... I should have smelt its proximity and protected the child from the next question.

"What about you?" The silent child was asked.
"Nothing" she replied.
"Are your family coming to lunch or something...?"

And the pig dog barked.

"Probably... " she sighed." I will lock myself in my room and pull the drawers in front of the door.  I should be safe then."

And the pig dog growled.

The first three memories I have shared have haunted me for more than twenty years. I can see the faces of those children who would be in their thirties now. It was a time of silence. It was not the deep and shameful silence which shrouded my grandmother’s life; but a silence attained by the avoidance of questions. It was simple… no question… no answer…no problem. The shadow of domestic violence cast itself over every classroom I ever entered; as a student and as a teacher. The shadow is that of a pig dog; a huge animal that can sit quietly, can hunt, can attack and can destroy. I do not know what happened to the three young people who have haunted me… I hope that they have learnt to manage their story.

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