All hail the penguins

My dad has a volunteer job teaching English to migrants. Of all his students from around the world, he particularly likes and gets along with twos Iranians, a middle-aged Muslim couple. And being who he is, he recently lent them a copy of the Jesus film on DVD.

The next week they returned the film, and thanked my dad. And being well-mannered people, they loaned him a DVD in return. March of the Penguins.

I can’t even imagine the conversation in their home that led up to that choice; was there any deeper meaning behind it or was it just a polite gesture? What do the penguins represent? Who is the penguin in this scenario? (After all, they could have lent him the Mohammed film, where the Prophet is always off-screen or represented as a light.)

My parents stayed in and watched the penguin movie on Saturday night. They liked it. Whether they appreciated it more or less than the Iranians enjoyed the Jesus film is impossible to say.

Talking of my parents and their raging Saturday nights: recently I asked my dad what he had done on the weekend. (I assumed he had done the usual – written a letter to the Age; constructed a complicated toy-train system with his grandson Isaac; cleaned the house from top to bottom stopping only to catch flies with the vacuum cleaner.)

“On Saturday night we went to Grandma’s and played Scrabble,” he said. Then he paused, realising how sad that sounded. “We’re not like you hip inner-city dwellers…”

“Actually Chris and I stayed in and watched Dr Who,” I said. Which is true, and made him feel better.

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