Welcome from Cathy Craigie: Executive Director of the First Nations Australia Writers Network (FNAWN)

by Cathy Craigie

Common Literaries

I first visited India over ten years ago and still have vivid memories. From the moment I stepped onto the street in Calcutta, I was hit with an immediate heightening of my senses.

The smells, the sounds, the crowds, the colours, all left strong impressions on me. This is a country of extremes. I loved their sense of time. It says 8 pm but it really is 1 am when the train finally arrives. Reminded me of Koori time, when it gets here it gets here! I travelled to the states of Orissa and Bihar and up to New Delhi.

I travelled on every mode of transport in one single day. From boat, to rickshaw, to bus, train, car and plane and then a taxi!

I visited Adivasi people in Bihar whose lives were entwined with an Australian mining company and in Orissa where I saw my brother and Uncles in the faces of the village residents. On one visit to a village, our bus was late and some twelve hours later when we finally pulled into the village, we were greeted by several Elders.

We were told that they had waited the twelve hours to meet us. They believed we were related and had come back to visit them. They knew us through their stories. For the group of six Aborigines from Australia, this was a special moment. We had links with these people and this country through our stories. This is what Literary Commons is about. Sharing those stories that bind us but also those that make us different. Through our writers, we keep the old stories alive but also create our new destinies. I can’t wait for my senses to be heightened again!

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