ARE YOU THE CROW?
“Hey, Mika, at school today, my teacher told me a story after lunch. And, you shouldn’t be the crow or the Peacock.”
Confused with how out of context it was, a chuckle escaped my mouth once I heard my brother say those words. Eating at a Vietnamese Restaurant, my brother’s mouth is stuffed with spring rolls. He asked, “Are you the crow?”.
I’ve heard of this story before..back when in primary school. It was about a crow who wishes to be as colourful as other birds. The crow then talked to the parrot, who said that the peacock was the most beautiful. But, then the peacock told the crow that he was lucky because the crow was not caged, like it was, because of its colours.
Though I vaguely remember the story at the time, I started thinking about where I came from. I started to think how this resonated with my then conflicting thoughts with Penrith.
Penrith. Located further in Greater Western Sydney. A suburb somehow mixed with parcels of empty land, yet, surrounded by a community of buildings. A place where I’ve lived for most of my life.
When people hear that I come from Penrith, I almost always get on the following responses:
“Penrith? That’s a trek.”
“Oh you live in Penrith? First of all, how are you bothered?”
“You’re so far away from everyone… have you considered moving closer to the city?”
While hearing these comments has briefly entertained me, when I hear that word, ‘Penrith’, instantly, there’s a familiar warm feeling of comfort inside.
But it took me a while to accept that Penrith was my home. I used to think Penrith was boring and wanted to live near the city. The sensory overload that came with walking into Zara, Muji, Abbey’s Bookshop, and the constant moving in the winding streets, made me believe that the comfort I had wanted to name home was there. I believed there was nothing that the city lacked and it could fulfil all my needs.
I enjoyed the city life, shopped at a wider range of stores, hung out with my friends at the last minute, and never worried about catching public transport late at night by myself.
And for that, I resented living in Penrith. The random blocks of buildings and the smaller shopping centres, compared to the City Squalor, made Penrith lack in excitement. I always thought living in the city fulfils that adrenaline of adventure that I craved. I felt that I was missing out on the action.
“So are you the crow?” My brother asked once again. I stared at him. These memories of living here came over me. It felt like everything had slowed, and time had paused in the moment. My brother, who asked a simple question (that I could have said yes or no to, because like any other six year old, he talks about the next random thing after I answer. He could even forget what I said) perplexed me.
I realised how little I had paid attention to this suburb. It was an attractive territory that I was blind to.
Having lunch with my family at Jamison Bakery, where the aroma of Bahn mi was a gentle message to my soul. The Aqua Golf, where memories of my friends and I were undoubtedly consistent in missing the targets in front of us. Walking on Yandhai Nepean Crossing, observing the view whenever I would reach the middle of the bridge. The parks that seemed to be in every corner of every suburb. Thinking of these brought a deep feeling of longing that made my heart ache and pound like a drum inside my chest. It was then that I accepted Penrith was where I felt the most satisfied, the most content.
Of course, the prospect of going to the city exhilarates me. But, the fast-paced life, with almost everything I could imagine, did not completely replace the confidence that I had to call Penrith my home; a home that included the pieces of family, memories and community. Penrith was my heart’s home.
My brother, now grunting that I took long to answer, was finally relieved that I responded, “No.”
“I’ve accepted where we live will always be my home.”
Indeed, it is a home, and home is the freedom and pride that comes with living here.