By Barry Donnelly
Imagine yourself...adrift in a four-metre tinnie within the shark-infested waters of the Pacific Ocean—lost and probably forgotten—shark bait!
Ben Tooki, his uncle and a chum have been stuck in a typhoon off the island of Kiribati and swept out to sea. For 46 days they have been adrift with little nutrients or water.
There's a typhoon shapin' up; it has been gettin' to complete on all day. We pay attention the rumbling noise. It feels like the track of a digeridoo, a type of buzzing sound.
"What's that noise, it is getting louder?"
"It's comin' in our direction!"
The wave grows right into a sizeable bulge within the ocean. Lifts us like an elevator, after which starts to roll ahead, no longer breaking, yet bent on offering us to a couple form of eternity. we are 3 males, goin' to yes dying at the mom of all waves, 3 males in an elevator, using a boiling mass of water. It lasts perhaps seconds, however it appears like an entire life, and the tinnie turns within the air, completing the wrong way up, and me spinning...
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Extra info for 46 Days Adrift. A True Story
Patrick’s accent was different to English teachers at King George the 5th secondary school. He was energetic, and a couple of centimetres shorter than me. He spoke Kiribati fluently, conversing with everyone he met; he knew our culture well, as it was part of the program to live with families in outer islands, and learn traditional ways, before serving the community. By the end of the course, Patrick was showing a lively interest towards me. He wanted to know about my family, and invited me to play tennis.
I wanted him to know I was there for him; that he’d be with me always. This was naïve. I never realised that when boys grow up, they want to lead their own lives, and call themselves men. I misled myself, and it hurt me often. My father passed away in nineteen ninety-six in Namibia, in the care of my sister Sangalofa and her husband, Lesley Clark. I was in Armidale at the time. His death was the worst thing, and we felt hopeless without him. My father was close to Ben, and Ben depended on him. I pleaded with my father to come to Australia in the final year, so he could see his grandson attending school.
He got in a utility with one of his mates one night, and they pranged the bloody thing. The police caught ’em. There were other times when I had to front the cops, and sort things out. Get him off – or get him out. We went to get some counselling from a guy who handled anger management. A lot of Ben’s problems have to do with the fact he didn’t have a real father, whom he has ever seen or spoken to. I talked with Taoati about this, but she wouldn’t admit until Ben was lost that her relationship with Ben’s father, Robert Morton, was like ships passing in the night.
46 Days Adrift. A True Story by Barry Donnelly