The spaces in between
Carla Pascoe traces her family's ancestry from Lebanon and contemplates the mysterious circumstances of her great grandfather's migration.
CARLA PASCOE: (NARRATING) Photos with brief captions. I know only the bare facts of my family history, not the longings and desires of these people whose blood I share. They have secrets that have never been revealed to me.
Ours is the typical migrant success story. When he arrived from Lebanon, my great grandfather struggled as a hawker, but eventually established three shops. His son, my grandfather, won the money for his first bulldozer in a game of Two Up. From this he built a flourishing business.
These are the proud triumphs of our past, but as I grew older, I began to realize that there were some details unmentioned. I have never completely understood my great grandfather's departure from Lebanon. Family legend tells it he decided to come to Australia late at night during a drunken game of cards. Raymond then told his wife he was leaving without her. How could he leave his wife and small children, knowing that he would be gone indefinitely?
The next part of the story troubles me more. When [INAUDIBLE] followed her husband to Australia two years later, she brought three children with her, but she had six, all told. Finances forced her to leave three children behind. How did she decide which children to keep close, and which to leave far away, in the old country?
That decision had fatal consequences. When the family was finally reunited in the new land, two of the abandoned children found the adjustment impossible. One son drowned in the murky waters of Port Phillip Bay. Did he take his own life in despair? This is a question that no one wants to ask.
Behind many of my family photos depicting success and happiness are whole albums of photos that where never taken. Photos of loneliness, rejection, and grief. Images so blurred, I can only guess at their contents.
Between the bold facts of our history are the painful details that make our story human. Here, I reside. These are the spaces in between.