Monday, November 10, 2008

Nadine, Chapter Eight

Nadine hung around her Pakeha, Maori and Islander friends. She wanted to be popular and followed them everywhere like a puppy dog. After Intermediate School, they all went to Auckland Girls Grammar School. After school, they hung around K Road. Very often, they played truant. They ate at McDonalds, window shopped at Rendalls and George Courts. They rolled up their uniform skirts until they became ultra mini skirts and strutted down to the legendary and notorious sex strip joint ‘Pink Pussy Cat’. They used vulgar language at the old homeless men sitting on the bench. They gravitated to the red light strip of K Road and asked for cigarettes from passersby. They called out expletives and teased the men going to the X-rated shops and told them that they would provide better services than the call girls inside.

Sometimes Nadine and her girlfriends met up with boys and had drink and drug-taking parties at the beach. They threw broken glass bottles, used condoms and hypodermic needles and tagged graffiti on the rocks and toilet buildings. They had their thumping ghetto stereos blasting so loudly that residents nearby complained to the police that they were shaking their houses. Nadine and her friends did not care. When the residents came to tell them to be considerate, they shouted obscenities and showed them their middle finger. They thought themselves to be smart by leaving before the police came. Once, a boy stole a car, and after their joy ride, they set fire to it. It became a burnt-out shell and dumped in the park. Frequently, in the weekends, Nadine did not come home to sleep.

Patel knew that cigarettes from his dairy had gone missing, and he knew who took them. But he did not want to confront Nadine. To Nadine, the cigarettes were her trump card. Her friends loved her for them. Nadine felt very proud to be the owner of the forbidden fruit.

Nadine was very conscious that as an Indian, she was never fully accepted by the gang. Patel had told her that in the old days, there were white prejudices. As Indians they were often lumped in the category of ‘Assyrian hawkers’. She never brought the girls home because she was ashamed of her “Indian” mother. She was ashamed that Chandra wore her drab old sari. She was ashamed that Chandra only spoke smithereens of English.

The girls were always asking her to do things that they themselves did not want to do. One day, one of the girls challenged Nadine to a dare and warned her that she was their friend only if she accepted. In a desperate attempt to be fully accepted by the gang, Nadine took up the challenge.

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