Friday, 19 April 2013

About You

Pity is brought to you by the new range of Australian-made Imperial Soft Drinks, the soft drink of choice for AFL players.

            That stuff tastes like shit, the husband says through a mouthful of Weight Watchers lasagne.

            You don’t like soft drink, the wife says. Why did you even drink it?

It was free.


Welcome back to Pity! says Missy Douglass.

Who dresses these people? says the husband. I mean, short skirt and a safari vest? Does no-one tell her she looks ridiculous? Doesn’t she even look in a mirror before she walks out in front of the whole of Australia?

Our next contestant, says Missy, is a twelve-year old cutie from western Kenya. Please welcome to the stage, Jerim!


Hujambo, says Jerim.

Hello, says the interpreter.

Do you reckon he looks nervous? says the husband. Poor kid probably doesn’t even know what being nervous is. And why do all these African kids have buzz cuts?

My name is Jerim, says the interpreter. I like football. My father ran away when I was very young. Me and my three sisters are raised by my mother. We only earn enough money for two bags of grain each year and it’s not enough. A donation of $25 could give me food water and shelter and a hopeful future.

Please thank Jerim! says Missy.

He’s cute, yes, says the husband, and he dresses nicer than some of the dropkicks I see down by the station. But, I don’t know, there’s something about him, he doesn’t look as needy as the last kid. And, I know it’s wrong, but I don’t really like football either.

Now let’s see what our judges thought. Josie?

Adorable, lovable, you look like a winner, Jerim. I also grew up without a father and I know how hard it can be on a child. You’ve got to be a pretty cold-hearted person to say no to a face like that.

I like him, says the wife. He looks like he actually wants my help, not just needs it.

How did you come to that conclusion?

I don’t know, it’s just a feeling I had. It’s something about his face, that blank expression.

They all have blank expressions.

If you want to donate to Jerim, simply call the number on your screen now. Calls cost fifty five cents and charges are slightly higher from mobiles.

I’m going to donate, says the wife.

No, wait and see what the other kids are like. There might be one you like more. And besides, you have all week to donate. Eat your lasagne.

We’ll be back after the break with Tabith. You are watching Pity!

Ok, she says.


How much are you going to donate?

I don’t know. $25 maybe.

So that might be enough to buy Jerim a goat. But he’s still going to be impoverished and you’re still going to be living a better life than him. It’s all about guilt and you should feel guilty until you’ve given away everything you have. But you’re not going to do that, are you?

We should give something.

Will it make you feel better about yourself?

How does it make you feel to sit here judging which child you would, but won’t, give money to?

Just fine. It’s no different from window shopping.

I’m going upstairs.

But you haven’t finished dinner.

You eat it. I’m not hungry.

She walks through the house to their bedroom. She pulls the pillows from the bed and lies down. For a long time she stares at the white emptiness of the ceiling. Finally she retrieves the packet of contraceptive pills from the draw of her bedside table and takes them into the en-suite. She kneels over the toilet and slowly pops each pill into the bowl. The faint noise of the television drifts through the house but she can’t make out what is being said.

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