on June 7, 2011 :
In Piggie in the Middle Story: Bush Medicine; the author Jaahda Jinnah draws on her life in the middle, between the two great traditions of the peoples of Australia - the Anglo-European, with a history on the land of Australia dating back to the seventeenth century, and the Aboriginal, with a history in the land of Australia dating back to a time before dates. (Yes, I referred to one culture living on the land and the other living in it.) Jaahda Jinnah is not some wanna-be Aboriginal seeking to introduce herself into the Aboriginal culture. The Aboriginal people themselves recognize her special gifts and have invited her to participate in their heritage.
Describing her education in both cultures, Jaada Jinnah says, "I might just be unique after all." Her book is certainly unique. Although she has all the paper and credentials of a professional educator (brr...), she is not writing this book for a classroom mind but for a bush mind. There is no test of multiple choice questions at the end of the text. Instead, she offers us choices as she shares some of her own choices with us.
She writes roughly the first two-thirds of the book about herself, while the final third is about bush medicine. Actually, Jaahda Jinnah is the kind of person who can not separate herself from her field, and the division between the two sections of the book are not clear. That is her special wisdom, that things should not be chopped up; she says that she learned that "medicine, law and religion were one and the same inseparable thing."
Piggie in the Middle does not make me think of pigs but of bears in the story of Goldilocks. Throughout that story, one bed is too hard, another too soft, but the one in the middle is just right. One bowl of soup is too hot, another too cold, but the one in the middle is just right. Jaadha Jinnah, like Buddhist teachers, offers us a "middle way."
Piggie in the Middle is not a how-to book on bush medicine. The energy in the book, in which words, sentences, and thoughts rush at the reader, is healing, restorative. If the book were longer, in fact, that same energy might become exhausting; if it were too short... well, you get the idea.
My one complaint about the book is that my uptight professional educator self would have appreciated a glossary of aboriginal words, slang, and Australian references (quick - who is Lindy Chamberlain?). But, that is not the kind of book Jaahda Jinnah was writing. If those words matter enough to me, then I can find them in a website or a dictionary. So, thanks, Jaahda, for turning out so many words that do matter to me.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)