A hard yet fulfilled life on the land. Lines etched on his face by hard won gains. Battling against all elements. Against nature’s bane.
A hard yet fulfilled life on the land
Lines etched on his face
By hard won gains
Battling against all elements
Against nature’s bane.
With a farm inherited from his father’s father
With a proud lineage and strong legacy
He is a pillar of the local, rural community
He doesn’t say much
But is always there to support those in need
Our honourable battler.
A harsh Australian outback
A parched corner of the land
In futile search of rain
In constant yearning,
In constant pain.
With cattle in desperate need of feed
Foraging in dusty paddocks
For meagre grasses
That are distant memories
They are starving
Sagging skins draping skeletal frames
Disease takes hold
Too late — they can’t be sold!
No option left but culling stock
Too late to remake his lot.
With debt also the way of life
With incessant bills to pay
Mounting up, perilously high
An amount so obscene
On the brink
Threatening to come crashing down
To destroy his life’s work
To take away his crown.
For all of his experience
For all his father taught him
From generations passed knowledge
The practices and ways
The tricks in his kit bag
The wisdom of the age
With slow governmental policies
That sow confusion
With handouts that shame
They are unable to help him face today’s demons
That climate change has unleashed
Unchecked by man
Upon his unwary, tempered land.
And now his façade is slipping
His belief system is faltering
The pressure continues building
His failings are exposed
This strong and unfailing farmer
Has to grudgingly turn to face a truth
A truth that he has tried desperately to stow
That the master of his surroundings
One that he has shaped with his own two bare hands
That represents his essence, his being
That represents his soul
Well that world
That his world
Is slipping through his fingers
Is inexorably crumbling
Turning to dust.
How does he reconcile this new truth with his wife?
That he has to break her faith?
That all that he could do — has been done
That there is no honest answer
That there is no other path to follow
That he has faltered
That he is lost this fight
That he has failed
That he is cast adrift
In that unforgiving, sun-burnt land.
The knot in his chest grows tighter
Sweat drips from his brow
Sleep continues to evade
And it is in those witching hours
In the pitch black of night
The darkness before dawn
When despair is at its zenith
With innermost fears brutally exposed
Ominous rumblings become louder
His thoughts turn to something wretched
Dreadful whispering surround him
Of a final escape from his onslaught.
He dismisses it in a second
There is a slight delay…
It sits there just below the surface
Growing at the edges
Biding its time
Offering its warm intoxicating embrace
A final resolution
The bringer of peace
The harbinger of rest
To be rid of his anguish
To take all his troubles away.
Our dear, stoic farmer
So unwittingly close to his own demise
Pondering his potential options
Options that he dare not speak out loud
Because of pride.
“Oh for the love of God!
Oh for the shame!
More bills to pay!
No end in sight!
It’s never been this bad before
Nothing I do makes a difference!”
And it is in that watershed moment
At his life’s tipping point
Standing at the precipice
When all is lost
To take a step beyond
To flee this world
To escape his chains.
And it is in that moment
In the stillness of the morning break
Upon lightening skies
In that oh so precious moment
As he watches the sun slowly rise
Dazzling beams reach across the horizon
Casting their golden rays on all to him that is precious
As he hears a trilling birds cry.
It is in that moment
That he remembers
In that grace
That he realises
Where all that is good in life
That he finally makes a decision
That he finally decides.
With great strength and ultimate resolve
With all his character
With love in his eyes
Of a shared history
Of tears, of laughter, of pain and surprise
A lifetime in its making
Against all his training
That a man must follow
With a never seen before openness
His pride exposed to the elements
Laying down his shame
He turns to his wife.
Part of a series of poems on financial inclusion. This one focusing on the drought and the increased rates of suicide in farming communities. Photos edited from unsplash. In the animated video I experimented with motion capture.
A hard fought battle that lasted for so many years,
That moved insidiously and inexorably to its ultimate conclusion
A hard fought battle that lasted for so many years That moved insidiously and inexorably to its ultimate conclusion A deceptive disease that she had kept at bay Fighting valiantly with her will, faith and bravery Finally entangled her in its cold embrace. Her bright light often dimmed and pushed to its very limits That fought back time and time again That always, had always, prevailed Finally spluttered and was… extinguished.
The warmth and joy she shared with others The compassion and empathy she freely gave The wisdom, humility and grace that defined her Her intellect, artistic and literary nature Her fun and cheeky sense of humour Her kind words and thoughtful gestures Gone. But not forgotten. Remembered in our hearts and minds – for always.
As the eldest child she also was truly her father’s daughter and her mothers confidant. But she was also a mother to us all – Gandhi’s children. She who gave selflessly of herself To serve the needs of others To give up so much to care for her family Who else would be brave enough to go on that lonely road? To put aside such potential for life? No glory or thanks on that road. Just grim reality and the desire to keep the anguish of others at bay And the practice of patience. A road of quiet service. A road of sacrifice.
She will be so very missed. We will sometimes forget that she is no longer here Seek her laughter And call out to her And look out for her And in that moment dawning recognition an indescribable pain as our hearts ache with longing We will cherish those memories of her that are so bitter-sweet and so poignant.
It was time for her to tread on that oft travelled road To another place. A place that mum and dad do await With open arms to embrace their beloved daughter A place to mend her broken body To nurture and lift her spirit To allow her mind to once again soar A path we shall all in time inevitably follow.
My children lose their beautiful, vivacious Aunty A little quirky, someone who saw the world a different way Someone who paused to appreciate the beauty in the small things The tiny moments The nature around her Things that the rest of us would pass by Dismissing without thought in our busy lives.
Most of all I will miss My Sister A void in my heart An emptiness that can never be filled or replaced. Rest In Peace Jiwan. Dearest Sister. You go to a far, Far Better, Place.
My dear older sister Jiwan passed away a couple of years back and this was her eulogy. As I just posted by brothers eulogy, I thought I’d post this as well. She was a pretty amazing person, a real bona fide role-model who gave so much of herself for others and and was taken too soon. She wrote some amazing poetry where she writes about her life and its well worth a read. She inspired me to start writing. Gandhi was the nickname my dad was given for his altruistic, libertarian views and my sister followed very much in his footsteps. http://beingjiwanx.blogspot.com.au/
An angry fella. His face full of red rage. Full of hate.
An angry fella
His face full of red rage
Full of hate
His rancid, putrid breath
Stinking of cheap whiskey
His rotten, decayed teeth
On full display
His brain shut off
To rhyme or reason
His visceral thoughts
A myopic focus.
Staggering forward in false bravado
He’d pick up his well worn bat
Caressing it’s end in theatrical play
His old trusted friend
His old acquaintance firmly at hand
And for devastating effect
He would smile
His all-knowing smile
And with eyes full of malice
“Smash your fucking face”.
Then tensing at his fullest
He would swing that bat
With all his might
In violence, in vengeful hate
The reward for some small slight
That made him remember
Who he was
A pitiful man
Exercising his daemons
And his terrible ritual would continue
Now a muscle memory
He would slap her bloodied face
Again and again.
And if she did not fall, or cried or moaned or whimpered
Or if she did not cower or crawl away
Or if she did show the fear
Or respect his twisted brain craved
As close to adulation as he came
If she did not do it
If he did not see it
He would kick her for the justice
And as she laid down in her own blood
And as she laid down in pain
While that pathetic bastard had
In her shame…
To take his own anguish away
That angry man
That wife beater
All the while
Our survivor would pray
Her tears would mix with her blood
On that oh so stained floor
Which had seen this play
Play out this encore
This time though enough was enough
Inside her a barrier
Taunt from years of abuse
Beyond breaking point
Shattering Into a thousand pieces
And she saw the universal truth
One she had tried so hard
To put aside
This dangerous game
He would not stop
For this was his way
Why he had sought her out in the first place.
For nine times she had left him
And nine times she had returned
Nine incomprehensible times
But not to her
The denier of history
This time though
With new resolve
She reached an escape velocity
An escape trajectory
This time she would break free of her shackles
He would not bind her
This time she would not come back
He would not own her
She would be the master
Of her destiny.
So this time she fled
She ran away
Far from her land
Away from her people
Away from her shame
Alone, she would have to start again.
The best years of her life behind her.
To fight for existence
To battle her own demons
To fan her own faltering flame
A future yet uncertain
A life of continuous subsistence
But a life that was free.
But a life full of unknowing
Not required you see
In ignorance of the economy
Now with white fella’s cards
To dig in their claws
A new ritual
To bash her another way.
For the cycle continues
Despite all our good intentions.
One of series of stories that were inspired by workshops around financial inclusion I helped organise and run for the Salvos in Australia in Nov 2018 while working for Deloitte’s.
We collaborated with the Salvos, on our national charity day, looking at how to resolve issues related to the stigma and access to Salvos financial services across the five personas, each with complex issues. In this case it was of an individual who was also facing domestic violence.
I’m a bit of a newbie at Unity but I’ve given a go using it for animation, using Mixamo for the character creation and Adobe tools to try to bring these stories to life. I’ve updated the Unity 3D animation with improved models and lighting effects. It’s a step up with what I was able to do with Unity before but I have so much more than I can do!
Poems and videos by Vinod Ralh. 2018. All rights reserved.
Illustrations in video by Jean-Baptiste Vincent. 2018. All rights reserved. Music in video Life Is by Scott Buckley - www.scottbuckley.com.au