YESTERDAY Garrett the drop bear started crying while singing a variety of songs like Walzing Matilda and Down Under.
“What’s wrong Garrett?” I asked.
“It’s Australia Day, and I’m not there for it!” he said. Too right! How could I have forgotten!
My exaggerated accent returned. “Fair dinkum,” I said, “Too right ay?” and Mojo asked me why my voice went nasally. He handed me some cold and flu tablets.
That might help your blocked nose, Mojo said.
You beauty, Mojo!
Garrett was right. It was Australia Day, and it seems wrong for both Garrett and I that our feet aren’t on the rich red soil of our land, eating sausages and drinking beers and painting our faces and waving Aussie flags with kangaroos wearing punching gloves.
Or getting into a punch up at the beach after debating whether we call particular footwear “thongs” or “pluggers.”
Mojo laughed when Garrett and I told the others how to celebrate. “But thongs are ladies underwear.”
Shut your bloody mouth, Mojo!
So we decided to make a day of it to cheer up Garrett. But instead of making it exclusive by calling it Australia Day, we decided to share our love to all the Balinese by substituting it to International Mate Day. Sometimes our politicians between the countries fight and squabble with their little power trips and ego. And maybe we need to use our national holidays to embrace our similarities than to use it to encourage xenophobia. The Monkey King has spoken!
All the monkeys ran around trying to get everything ready for International Mate Day. Garrett stopped crying. He started singing a song I’d never heard of before, by an Australian band named Gyroscope. Chompy heard him and joined in, with his acoustic guitar.
Some of the little monkeys found some paint and drew on our white tiger, Bitey. They painted his whiskers gold and splattered stars all over his body. He kept trying to lick the paint off and then they would draw them on again.
Mojo went to the shops and came back with some shrimp. “Now lets put these shrimp on the barbie!” he said with a wide grin.
Don’t worry, I made him take the shrimp back. He returned with a box of sausages. “Snags,” I reminded him. “We call them snags” And my little disciple said “you beaut! Mate, lets eat these snags!”
I told him we didn’t eat snags when they were raw. Fortunately, Abu and Timmy had been working on making some sort of barbecue (“barbie”) from all the spare scraps of tin they could find across town. Jo-Jo cleaned the grill and then we lit the fire and put the “snags” on. The other monkeys, led by Benji, went to the nearby safari zone to borrow some kangaroos.
They had to drag a pair of kangaroos back in dog collars but when the kangaroos saw what we were trying to do, they were delighted to get involved. We couldn’t find some gloves but they had an exhibition match anyway in the middle of the courtyard. The monkeys and the local Balinese men – who raced down when they learnt what was happening – took bets on the winner. As the “barbie” caught on fire, I wondered what sort of monstrosity we had turned Australia Day into.
“Yeah, I don’t feel it either,” Garrett said. “I think the secret to Australia Day is not giving a damn about it. And we tried too hard.” Then he handed me a pair of thongs. “Happy Australia Day, mate.” I put them on my feet and I thanked him for the thongs.
“Thongs! They are pluggers!” he said, and he tackled me in the creek when I argued with him. “They are thongs!” I screamed, and the kangaroos jumped into the water.
“Ay, break it up!” the kangaroos said, holding both of us back from each other. “It’s not worth it, ay.”
“Snags are ready, get em while they’re greasy,” Mojo shouted.