About this blog

My only daughter's name is Clea. Clea was six years and nine months old and she was enjoying a family holiday in Samoa when the ocean surged as a wall, ten metres high, and drowned her. Many other people died that morning of 29 September 2009.
The other four members of her family survived the tsunami.
Life has never been the same since. It will never be the same. This blog features memories, reflections, poetry, etc...
Just let me stay with her under this moon,
hold her in my arms, spin her in the air,
with my dear daughter in some timeless swoon.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


This happened quite a few years ago, maybe six or seven years; it was after we moved out of Sydney. I was engaged in a conversation with a friend, discussing the issue of keeping in touch with friends and acquaintances as months and years go by. Suddenly this friend of mine said to me something like, “You know, the problem is that you don’t communicate”.
At the time I found the charge quite bizarre, let alone absolutely untrue and inaccurate, since my whole professional life of over twenty-five years has been based around communicating. I have been a teacher of languages for nearly thirty tears; I have translated between languages and interpreted for people who did not share a language, both in professional and familial settings. Words have always been part of my daily work; the act of communication – either my own thoughts and ideas, or those of others across languages – was, is, and will continue to be bread-and-butter for me - presumably for a long time.
Following my daughter’s death in the 29 September 2009 tsunami in Samoa, not to mention the extremely traumatic experience of surviving such a catastrophic event, I wrote Lalomanu. The book – at least that’s the way I see it now – was my initial form of grieving. Lalomanu was also a very painful effort to convey things impossible to express, that is to say, it was a sorrowful attempt to communicate the experience I (or rather, my whole family) had gone through.
The book was written mostly in the very early mornings of January, February and March 2010. Some mornings I would write of the recurring nightmare of the water swallowing my son J. and me, our seemingly endless spinning and my struggles to ensure we could come up for air. I wrote about the unspeakable terror; about the aftermath, the horror; I wrote about coming back home without our daughter and sister. I also wrote about what Clea’s short life means to me, about all the things she deserved to have lived but was deprived of enjoying.

Someone said to me the book is ‘beautiful and terrible’.
It was the book I needed to write. They were the feelings and thoughts I needed to communicate. The book’s design and layout was very kindly made by a friend, María, for free. She sent the Indesign files to the Canberra printers, and 300 copies were made. With my poems, I was trying to tell the reader what happened on 29 September 2009, what happened afterwards. I did communicate SO VERY MUCH.
I personally mailed numerous copies. Many were posted overseas; I even spent a whole autumnal day driving around Canberra and leaving a copy in my students’ mailboxes. It can hardly be said that I did not make a huge effort to communicate.
Some people did respond, in one way or another; others never did. Some never bothered to acknowledge the book, ie, to acknowledge the unbearable pain of a human being they knew. Highly educated people on the other side of the world kept silent or chose not to search for words, as I explained here.
Whatever communicating means, I think it is not about forwarding a PowerPoint presentation or the link to a video or an article. Never before has ICT (Information and Communications Technology) used so often to actually avoid communication. Instead, it seems to be (ab)used to pass on trivial stuff, or to appear to be “staying in touch”. So powerfully useless.
But then again, I might be wrong. And does it really matter?

1 comment:

  1. You are not wrong Jorge. We supposedly live in the 'connected age' but it's an odd kind of connection when not a lot of 'listening' goes on. It's easy to talk trivia; hard work talking about the stuff that matters - and yes, it matters.


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