The meaning of cake

 

Cake is Brian, my watchmaker. Again he refused payment for repairing my late father's gold retirement watch. Brian enjoys Anne Enright's books, thinks of Ireland as the Tasmania of Europe, and told me of his shock at 'the size of Aussie cabbages' when he immigrated here.

Two-halves cake

*

Sue emailing me from the country, 'Dad baked two cakes yesterday and delivered two halves, one from each cake. Dad's discovered the 2,4,6,8 butter cake recipe. And it's the first time he's made icing. I'm so proud of him. It was good that Dad moved on from pumpkin cake.'

*

Reading Tim Winton's 'Betsy' in bed at night, 'From boyhood I had known my father to be a man of kindly nature but irritable bowel.'

*

Peter taking ten days off work to drive his large family in his taxi van from Sydney to Armidale for his daughter's graduation.

*

Antonio talking about the only Anglo-Australian in his extended family, 'We call him The Wog.'

*

Mathilde, my eight year old great niece, asking my 83 year old mother in Mauritius, 'What do you do with your days?'

*

My mother and I on the phone reminiscing our family racing after Sunday Mass to Chez Joseph, our corner store in Beau-Bassin. Closed on that day but from a window down the side, Joseph's wife sold hot boulettes arouille (taro fritters) wrapped in local Chinese newspapers.

*

Standing on the footpath, our neighbour's mid-teen son playing the violin splendidly to his dad washing his car on the street.

*

Sitting in my GP's waiting room. Next to me, a young dad with his baby girl in a pram facing him. The dad leaning into the pram, caressing his daughter with his right hand, and syncing the moves of his fingers to the beat of 'Shake it Off' over the radio.

*

Opening my bedroom door to a surprise gift on the floor: a pair of woolen socks from Le Teddy Intrépide who returned home through the night.

*

On the day of the marriage equality vote result, among thousands at Prince Alfred Park, watching from a distance David Marr bawl with joy embracing his partner.

*

Paul who died last year. One week before, I emailed him from Wellington airport photos of two giant model eagles of The Lord of the Rings fame suspended from the ceiling. Paul's last email read, 'Absolute gobsmacker!'

*

A sign outside the local Japanese bakery, 'Closed for two weeks. We're getting married!'

*

Standing and waiting in a crowd at peak hour outside Newtown train station at the pedestrian crossing. A crossdresser wearing a one piece orange swimsuit, a tiny matching frilly skirt and platform shoes pushes through. The sound of a communal inbreath as she runs dangerously through the traffic to the other side.

*

Nick exploding on his mobile with me, 'I'm washing my arse on my bidet!'

*

Again Nick, after his hip surgery, finally resuming dancing with his wife at the club every Saturday night.

*

Nev from the new Turkish ice cream shop on their first business week, radiant with glee, 'I make the ice cream. My wife bakes the cakes.'

*

Outside a block of units down the road, among a pile of domestic items and books thrown away, a 1906 French edition of a classic, Le petit chose' by Alphonse Daudet.

*

Ai Weiwei's Human Flow on Easter Sunday. Two women followed me in the small, sparsely attended theatre. One of them said aloud, 'This is going to be harrowing. Why don't we all sit closer?' which we did.

*

Ben, on the phone, singing just for me, 'Don't worry, be happy'.

*

A bear hug from Ben.

*

Safdar, who writes and draws about his abusive father and childhood in The Good Son: 'We have a complex relationship which means I can love him and hate his guts at the same time'.

*

Irvin Anneix's short film, part of UNESCO's Grandmas Project, of his grandmother making Lait de Poule (eggnog).

*

Teaching at Long Bay gaol 20 years ago and, a week before Christmas, after a dinner marking the end of a therapeutic program, with 60 inmates and staff, singing 'Silent Night'.

*

Tapping away at my desk at dusk, and hearing an anonymous man walking down our backstreet singing opera in German at the top of his voice.

*

Cindy, 'This is Newtown. We don't do cake forks.'

 

 

writerBernard Appassamy is a Sydney writer and artist who grew up in Mauritius.

Topic tags: Bernard Appassamy

 

 

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