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The Yellow Circle: a Profile
Angela Costi

Some people are made of music before flesh, and he is one: dreadlocks swinging their percussive chime, arms tucked in pockets yet somehow moving in rhythm to his step. When he walks the Street the Earth senses him, despite the crust of concrete, tar and fume. Earth moves to his combination of hard rock and distant didjeridu, playing between his pace and breath.

Tonight the street is Smith Street, passing the Kakadu outback store, the credit co-op, the Safeway and stopping his music outside a glass door with no name. He presses the intercom. An internal voice crackles – Who is it? Me – he replies. Bzzzz, and door unlocks into a series of silent steps and muffled voices that escalate the closer he climbs up and into the white harsh lighting of office space. A long table of knitted heads engages in furtive dialogue of budgets and triennial funding. They stop to receive his smile: so wide, so happy to be making contact, no need for hello, no need for any words really. But they respond with words – good to see you Dave, take a seat – because their smiles can never quite meet his.

The Committee of Management is now complete with David. He makes them ten in number and he is their yellow circle. David actually is yellow circle and blue square, pink crescent, green triangle, grey cylinder, red cone; like the rest of us, a fusion of colour and shape. For the members of the Committee, David doesn’t mind presenting as the yellow circle. At least he gets noticed this way. But the ‘yellow’ that they recognise and accept is of the faint lemon variety and the ‘circle’ must always be connected, because David has great politics and he’s nice; he’s good onya Dave for having a go; and wouldn’t harm-a-mozzie Dave. The appropriate hue and shape.

He has tried. There were times when he disagreed with their agendas and their pre-planned lists but that’s when they replied with stilted smiles and polite refrains of – we understand where you’re coming from but ... The pale yellow circle seems the safest place.

A shrill of tones and gestures finally erupts into a motion by the Arts Administrator – a theatre piece about the urban aborigine and how they deal with white imposed city rules. Bravo! This show is bound to ensure funding and publicity. But the motion needs to be seconded by you know who.

The Arts Administrator, the Union Representative, the Actor, the Theatre Technician, the Chief Executive Officer of an Insurance Fund, the Marketing Executive, the Accountant, the Community Worker and the Chairperson direct their eyes to the yellow circle. David is sitting in complete silence, with eyes closed and head bobbing in and out of the world so far away from this meeting. The Community Worker rolls her eyes. How many times has she seen this in her line of work and David’s been doing this a bit too often lately. She looks at the Chairperson and mimes shooting imaginary smack into her arm. The Chairperson nods her appreciation of the Community Worker’s insight. The Accountant softens his eyes, thinking of his teenage son and the little episode brought to his attention last month. Should we wake him? – whispers the Marketing Executive. No need because David lifts his head and says – Sorry. Poor thing – thinks the Union Representative – but understandable, given he’s a Koori.

The yellow circle is David’s category and if he comes pinned on drugs or loud on grog or steamed about something he never shares, that’s fine by them. The token Abo – David says, when he meets up with his trusted friends – I’m their token Abo, that’s all.

There are many things that give David happiness and heroin is not one of them. He never touches the stuff. Dope, yeah, now and again, mostly at parties but heroin is a slow suicide and he can’t afford to waste the money or the time. He’d rather they thought smack though, than boredom or tiredness. Too much explaining if they knew the truth. David raises his hand as seconder and the motion is carried. The Chief Executive Officer passes a plate of Melting Moments David’s way. He takes one, biting into the sugary mess, scattering biscuit over the minutes and the list of agenda items, he finds no happiness in anyway.

He writes his own happiness list, on the first day of every month. Taking centre space on his notice board, the list orders ten things. This month he added amateur footy. Down at the Coburg oval with a team of over thirty-fives, he recently recruited himself. Again he was the only Koori, but not the only darkie; there was a Mauritian, learning the game for the first time. David was as good as the white fellas. He kicked a goal last week. Made him feel King.

But no matter how many goals or wins, always at the top of the list is his daughter, Kiara: three and half years old, of golden light and hair. Not blonde or brown, simply gold – he says – she lives in Adelaide with her mum but I see her every second month, simply not enough. Kiara's wallet-size photo shows a sunny smile framed in a wave of sunshine locks. My greatest dream – he says, staring at the photo. She can pass as Anglo, can’t she? As a true pommy-looking kid, but look at me, how black can you get? Where did it all go? Kiara’s hazel eyes beam back at him. He folds her away into his wallet. Where did all the black go?

Kiara; teaching cultural sensitivity at TAFE; acting for local community groups; footy; Vicky at the Roast Bar; the International Socialist Workers ... but not being on the Committee for The Theatre Company. This item left the happiness list well over six months ago.

Wiping off the little Melting Moment crumbs from the agenda, he reads ‘Other Business’ and a motion in his head begins taking shape and colour. A motion from his long walks on flat land, hearing the music under his feet, hearing advice from his elders, hearing the shouts of love from his white mates when he made that kick, hearing his daughter’s cries for Daddy when he leaves her. A motion of black and white not becoming grey, not becoming sorry or yes or no or one day or maybe; becoming something golden, beyond categories and words, something to inspire a future .... Any other business before we call it a night? – asks the Chairperson. David raises his hand but Marketing Manager catapults his voice onto the table and everybody tunes in their ears. Tones and tensions multiply into a frenzied motion about touring the proposed show to the 'regionally isolated.' And who will be the seconder? Eyes on yellow circle but he’s slid back into himself. The slight nod of his head reminding them he is alive. The Community Worker seconds the motion instead.

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