Stories are rarely inspired by one thing alone and it’s the same with Suri’s Wall. There were a lot of influences both conscious and unconscious that managed to combine just enough for the spark to ignite. However there are three things that I can definitely point to as ingredients.
Yao Defen – The Main Ingredient
In 2010 I watched a documentary made by Discovery Channel on Yao Defen, the world’s tallest woman. I was enthralled by her condition and horrified at the way she had been treated during her life. I first saw Suri the night I watched this documentary.
I grew up being the smallest girl in school. I was much shorter and thinner than my class mates and you can see the difference in my stature in this photo. (I’ll give you one guess which one I am)
I started wondering what it would have been like on the other end of the scale. Being the tallest, and by a lot, like Yao Defen was. I wasn’t particularly harassed because I was so small and when I was teased it was in more of an endearing, cheeky way, not cruel or vindictive. However, I don’t think Yao was as lucky as me.
You can see a brief summary video of the Yao Defen documentary here.
Australian Detention Centres 2010 – Add half a cup
In the same year there was a lot of news coverage of the unrest that was starting to swell more noticeably in the Australian detention centres. There were many waves of protests from both within the centres and the wider community. In his acceptance speech, the Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry called for an end to immigration detention centres and he raised his concerns of them as being almost “factories for producing mental illness and mental disorder”.
With new detention centres opening on Nauru and Manus Island, the debate about their use and conditions has not left the public arena, as well it shouldn’t. You only need to do a news search for “Australian detention centres” to have 112000 recent articles returned to you.
For a document containing the raw statistic, look here. The graph on page 5 which shows the increase in the numbers in detention and the graph on page 10 which shows the rapid increase in the average number of days in detention are alarming.
I’m a mother of three rapscallion children. I love them so desperately that my chest aches just mentioning them. I can’t imagine what horror would make me take them from their homes and flee to another country. Luckily I will never have to because I have had the amazing fortune of being born to Australian parents. Australia is meant to be the Lucky Country. Increasingly though, I have the feeling that it is only lucky for the very few.
Isolation – Just a pinch
While I was never harassed because of my height, from second grade to fourth grade I was bullied mercilessly by one girl. She was the constant antagonist and along the way she employed various co-conspirators for backup. You see, she wasn’t brave enough to do it alone.
I’m not even sure why I was bullied. The girl never had a particular issue that she stuck to. You have to remember that it was thirty years ago that this occurred and playground rules were very different back then. There were but a handful of teachers who took bullying seriously and made efforts to stamp it out. Unfortunately, the teachers I had at Kurrajong weren’t those kinds of teachers. There was one teacher there who bullied me as much, if not more than the girl.
I became isolated and lonely. The other girls wouldn’t play with me because they would in turn be bullied. I was hit, kicked, tripped and pushed, always from behind because as well as bullies, they were cowards. I was teased, taunted, had things thrown at me and my bag or lunch box was hidden or kicked out of my reach regularly.
The thing I remember most of all is the sick feeling I had in my stomach every single morning. It was so strong that I could barely talk in case the nausea caused me to vomit.
While I was small, the bully was little. Little in mind and little in compassion.