The birch trees are bending over her, kowtowing to their goddess. A goddess with curves better than any beauty queen. I have been amazed by her serenity, her magical beauty, since my very first day at ANU.
I call her Sully, our own Miss World.
When the campus is crowded with students, at The Coffee Grounds, at the Little Pickle, at Hancock, and when there are even crowds in the toilets, she remains solitary. Stunning Sully.
A long time ago, when I hadn’t yet reached 18, my friends and I caught a train from Dhaka to Mymensingh early one morning. It was a 150-kilometre journey, one we concealed from our parents, but nothing could stop us from reaching the Brahmaputra River. Dhaka had no body of water to compare it to.
We had gone there for the romance of nature, as had more than a hundred other lovebirds we found when we arrived. But alongside them were environmentalists and political activists protesting the pollution of the river.
Sitting on its banks, we lost ourselves in the music of the river. We lost ourselves in romantic conversations and in political speeches and petitions.
Now, many years later, and here in Canberra, I see a river flowing through campus with its banks empty of either romantics or activists.
My footsteps follow my mind and I sit by the edge of the water.
Soon after, one of my lecturers approaches me, asking if I’m okay.
“Sure! I’m just relaxing.”
Then five minutes later, an Aussie classmate stopped by.
“Hey, what happened? You look sad.”
“Nothing happened, I’m just thinking about the river.”
She looked sceptical.
“Let’s go grab a drink. That will make you feel better than sitting here.”
Failing to convince my classmate otherwise, and walking away with her towards a drink, I couldn’t help wondering why no-one sits by the river. This Sully is so beautiful, why does no-one see it?
I posed the question to my Aussie friend.
She said, “Hun, it’s not a river, it’s a creek.”
“I know,” I replied. “The name of this river is Sullivans Creek.”
“You know drainage? A creek is nothing but a drain.”
But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This ANU drain will forever be my Miss World.