I have decided to publish the children’s story I wrote and illustrated, whilst as an inpatient and during recovery from PTSD, after my mother’s suicide. There is a recording too, at the bottom of the page. I hope you enjoy.
There once was a girl called Tinika, who lived with her grandmother near a beach called Huia.
Every evening, as the sun set, they watched the bright light begin its work at the Manukau Head Lighthouse across the bay. A strong beam of light would shine far out to sea, warning ships of the dangerous rocks and riptides. The light would sweep into their eyes and Tinika could see her grandmother smile.
One particular evening, Tinika walked barefoot down to the beach and along a fishermen’s quay, throwing a shell into the water with a plop. There, at the end of the quay, a beautiful popoto dolphin danced in the moonlight, calling her to join him. She stepped into the cool water and they flew across the waves like two albatrosses, smooth and swift.
Suddenly, the little dolphin dived beneath a wooden rowing boat. A bearded old man in a yellow Sou-wester hat steadied the vessel with ancient oars.
“Jump aboard, little one. Far too dangerous in these depths and there’s a chop coming on,” called the old man. So Tinika waved goodbye to the dolphin and quietly sat in the boat as the old man rowed across to the Manukau Heads.
They beached the boat in a sandy cove and Tinika leapt out upon the wet sand.
She climbed one hundred boot-warn steps, and a swirl of a track took her to the lighthouse, which stood at the top of a cliff, small and white.
Tinika was very excited and ran swiftly in through the doorway and up a ladder staircase, just like a flame.
She found a hatch and pushed on it, only to find the old man reaching down to help.
“I am the Manukau Head Lighthouse Keeper. Welcome,” he said.
Tinika gazed at the tiny light encased in many sheets of glass and couldn’t believe a light kindling so small could ward off giant ships.
“These are the lenses,” explained the lighthouse keeper as he pointed to the glass.
Tinika smiled then stared across the darkness of the Manukau Harbour towards Huia.
“But how am I to find my home?” she asked.
The old man watched the beam of light circle slowly until it reached as far as Huia, whereupon it stopped.
“Step up on that light and it will carry you home,” said the old man.
So Tinika did, and she raced home as a Karearea falcon, high above the inky sea. “Say hello to your grandmother from me,” he called out with a twinkle in his eye. And her hair sparkled in the lightbeam.
As the light faded she descended to the arms of her grandmother who held her tightly.
They smiled and Grandma led Tinika inside for cookies and warm milk by the fireside.