An afternoon gift

Sometimes I am very privileged sitting up here.

I scarcely noticed the young Chinese woman who was standing on the footpath next to Mawson's bust. I was gazing aimlessly, wondering how to finish my lectionary reflection. I did see the Anglo man, in his 70s I think, slowly walking towards her. Something about his tentative approach, along the opposite side of the benches to her, must have caught my attention.

He spoke to her across the bench, uncertainly. She reached over and embraced him. He stepped around the benches to her side, and they embraced again. The smiles and enthusiasm of two people who somehow know each other, but have never met, shone in the overcast of the afternoon.

Who was he, I wondered? They made notes, and compared diaries. A young man, her friend, I think, approached. Introduced to the old man, he shook his hand with delight, and an obvious respect. He had heard of this man before.

After more conversation, the young woman kissed him on the cheek. The two young people went on their way. He picked up his notecase, and went and sat by the cycads in front of Bonython Hall. He is standing there now, speaking to the two young men for whom he was waiting. Who is this man?

This conversation is longer. Even through the filmy double glazing, I can see it's a good conversation. I am reminded of my grandfather, and Rol Nichols, and Milton Spurling. Good men. Kind men, and wise. He shakes hands with them, and they begin to cross the street. He is walking off past the Mitchell Building when I lose track of him.

I think I have received a gift; a little offering of peacefulness and generosity in all the bustle of the city.

Andrew Prior


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