I am the Community

KAKADU, JULY 1998.

I usher the next patient into my consulting room. She has fair skin
and freckles. She wears Islamic head-dress which covers her neck and
her arms. I look at her file: her name is Fatima Yasmin.
I introduce myself and she replies in a perfectly ordinary Australian accent.
Always curious, I ask: are you descended from the old Afghan cameleers?
No.
Did you marry a Muslim?
No, I’m not married.
So you converted to Islam?
Yes, and that’s when I took the name. I was a Colquhoun before that.
The rest of my family still are Colquhouns.
I wonder, then enquire: do you say your prayers five times a day?
Yes.
Which way do you face when you’re praying?
She indicates a direction north and west – the direction of Mecca, the
direction too, of Jerusalem, towards which I turn in prayer three
times a day.
Are there any other Muslims in Kakadu?
No.
So you are the entire Islamic Community of Kakadu?
Yes.
It’s a pleasure to meet you. Meet the Jewish Community.