Bittersweet, emotional and beautiful, Indira Naidoo takes grief out of the darkness and brings it into the light as her tribute and farewell to her beloved sister Stargirl, in The Space Between the Stars in a manner that is both cathartic and healing.
Indira Naidoo is a woman who uses words as her daily currency. She uses this skill to share her journey in a very gentle and personal way, as she struggled emotionally and intellectually, to accept or explain the death of her sister, a woman who was at the top of her career pinnacle, successful, fun and working in a world she loved, that of Media.
What was it that caused Stargirl to take her life one dark night at the beginning if the COVID pandemic? She blamed herself as the older sister; she should have seen the signs that something was so wrong. Her grief was debilitating, unimaginable and isolating. The blame was palpable.
As the days passed, her grief knew no bounds. On a morning jog, in the fresh, brisk breeze off Sydney harbour, she jogged up Mrs Macquarie’s Road passing through a grove of golden wattle, the sounds of a City in motion slowly dispersing; two figbirds were cooing high in the branches and a soft gentle sound, a whisper of the leaves asking her to come in closer, come in, come in was mesmeric.
Although she had felt the vibration of this sacred place before, a place of suffering and regeneration, this time she stopped, finding a place to sit on the grass, a time to simply be. When she took note of her surrounding the first thing she noticed was a tiny spiders web in the grass, glistening in the morning light.
Looking up she realised she was under the branches of a very old Morten Bay fig, a tree that had witnessed much over its long life. Very slowly she began to feel she could simply be; to be there nothing asked and nothing given, just space and time.
Each of the chapters is based on a memory of the three sisters, Indira, Dreamcatcher and Stargirl growing up in a family that moved countries several times, their parents in search of adventure, their lives made richer for the experience. A year apart the girls were as close as they could be, each full of mischief, loving the challenge of growing up.
Vignettes capture moments in time that are funny, naughty, captivating with each bringing back many memories of growing up in a world less troubled, far more freedom being given to children and the many adventures there to be had just by simply being children.
As a broadcaster Indira Naidoo had interviewed many people on a wide variety of subjects, but found, as the days and weeks passed, often with time spent under the Morten Bay fig, she began to truly wonder what secrets nature held that were helping her healing begin.
She reached out to horticulturalists, ornithologists’, astrologers, and many more people all in touch with the earth and nature, in an attempt to understand why so many of the small things in nature meant so much to her, and how they were helping her in their gentle, unobtrusive way, begin to put back some of the pieces of her life.
A beautiful chapter, amongst the many, is Uber Goodbye, about the magic and mystery that truly does surround, that reaches out when there is a desperate need, a deep grief to be soothed.
In the final chapter Indira Naidoo addresses the issue of grief and its place in her life. She uses Ernest Hemmingway’s advice, ‘Write hard and clear about what hurts’, reflecting on the lessons learned and bravery discovered by spending time in nature, learning to listen to what is freely there to be discovered.
Grief is a journey everyone experiences very differently: The Space Between the Stars is her journey.
Author Indira Naidoo
Publisher Murdoch Books/Quarto
Distributor Murdoch Books
Released March 2022
Review By Janet Mawdesley
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