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.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Mute Friends

People often ask me how my two boys are, how they are doing, whether they show any signs of trauma. The truth is, they are very normal children: they like playing football, they love their Auskick, they play games on their Nintendo and on the PC. At school they are inconspicuous, just another two boys who mingle with their classmates and make the most of their day. No one knows that the only difference is their tendency to create mini ‘tsunamis’ in the bathtub, where their ship is wiped out and many pirates fall into the water and drown. I doubt many children will do that at bath time.

So I’ll say they are well and they show no signs of trauma. Yet the truth is it could be very different. After all, they survived a catastrophic event in which they lost their sister. Two minutes earlier they had all been walking together on a paradisiacal beach. Then a mountain of water came and it swallowed the five of us and everything else, and they never saw their sister again.

They also lost what they had taken to the beach. They were just toys, you might argue, and they might be replaceable; still, they were part of their daily lives. They shared their beds and their dreams, they were the tireless companions of their childhood games. It is impossible for us adults to have a proper insight into what children feel when they suddenly lose their favourite toy, the one that keeps them safe in bed at night.

Clea lost Chuchi, the fluffy puppy that was the silent witness to her endless discussions with her dolls. This was Chuchi, whose name had obvious Spanish connections (‘chucho’ is a colloquial term for dog in Spanish).

O. lost Blah-blahs, a bizarre-looking pinkish rabbit who used to have a sound recorder inside, so when you squeezed him and talked, Blah-blahs would repeat what you said. Blah-blahs came from Spain, but the recorder was soon destroyed. Though mute since then, Blah-blahs kept O. company and was always happy to be thrown into the air and fall wherever; he never complained, so he was the ideal playmate. I was unable to find a picture of Blah-blahs, but we all remember him (or her?) fondly.

J. lost Tigger, that eccentric jumping tiger in the Winnie the Pooh story. Tigger was a very tiny toy but would go with J. wherever they went.

Chuchi, Blah-blahs and Tigger: all three of them accompanied our three children wherever they went if they were to sleep the night away from home, and would always keep them company. They were loyal. Admittedly, they were mute and never said anything much; unlike persons, however, they did not have the means to express themselves. It was not their choice to remain silent.

They don’t get talked about much these days, but they must be missed.

I miss them, too.


  1. J lost osito too although he gave it a different name and I can't for the life of me remember it's name ...

    1. You're right. I forgot about Tookey - I think that's the name J. gave the teddy bear Clea used to own before Chuchi became NÂș1.

  2. These silent cloth and plastic companions are special. I'm not ashamed to admit (though Maria will be embarrassed that I'm doing it publicly!) I still have Bye Bye, the tea tree-stuffed pillow I was given at my christening. Many a tear has been shed into that little pillow over the years.

    1. Of course they are special. Why should we be ashamed of having such depth of feeling for a toy or a comforting thing that we characterise as almost human when we are children? No reason at all.
      They are so MEANINGFUL for children, to an extent we cannot even imagine after we grow up. They are important to them in ways we (older, grown up adults) cannot comprehend now, because at 5 years of age their world is still rather small and restricted to what they are truly familiar with, like a fluffy puppy or a teddy bear.
      And yet for all their muteness, children have learnt to extract a message of comfort from them. Despite being unable to say anything to them, they still tell the children what the children want to hear.

      Now, if only we could see more adult people doing that.

  3. Big Ted still sits in Clea's wardrobe patched up after many years. He is more than 40 years old but he was my friend, Clea's friend and J's friend - don't think O cared much for Big Ted.


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