Tu­lia Delves into Fam­ily His­tory

mailife - - Contents - By SACHIKO SORO Pho­tos SUP­PLIED

‘Strength of a Name’ is the ti­tle of a new book writ­ten by a young woman with a marked strength of char­ac­ter. Tu­lia Na­cola car­ries a fam­ily name that is widely recog­nised in Fiji and has trans­lated what lies be­hind it into a fas­ci­nat­ing book about her an­tecedents. A work of cre­ative non-fiction, it delves into her fam­ily his­tory and the lives and times of her dad and mum, Ratu Jo and Anne Na­cola. Na­cola, 35, is a re­spected wood­worker and fur­ni­ture de­signer who grew up in Suva city. Her vil­lage is Soa, in Ra, and she lives in Waikalou, Navua, where she finds peace to write. She said her book tells the story of a lit­tle boy grow­ing up in his vil­lage in Ra and how he en­coun­ters sit­u­a­tions, es­pe­cially about his iden­tity. It fol­lows his life into adult­hood when he goes to the city and pur­sues an education abroad, ul­ti­mately be­com­ing an aca­demic, writer and later an elected politi­cian. He falls deeply in love with a girl of dif­fer­ent back­ground and to­gether they share and learn from their pasts. “I have al­ways been fas­ci­nated with the sto­ries my par­ents told about their child­hood, how they met and trav­elled the world to­gether. It was a dif­fer­ent time and place that I will never see or ex­pe­ri­ence but now ap­pre­ci­ate. I wanted to keep their sto­ries alive so oth­ers can ap­pre­ci­ate them.” Tales told by Na­cola’s bubu Sera in the vil­lage during school hol­i­days and her strong as­so­ci­a­tion with the en­vi­ron­ment give re­al­ity to the char­ac­ters and the of­ten hard vil­lage life her book de­scribes. One of the most mov­ing chap­ters is in an early scene of how a woman about to give birth strug­gles to walk to the near­est mid­wife in a vil­lage miles away and fi­nally has her baby alone by the side of the bush track. The fate of that child is the thread that holds the book to­gether and weaves in­sights on cus­toms, tra­di­tions and be­liefs. Na­cola said that the process of writ­ing the book over a full year was de­lib­er­ately iso­lat­ing, mak­ing her self­ish of the time she spent with oth­ers: “My so­cial skills were de­te­ri­o­rat­ing.” “My source of in­come is through my fur­ni­ture busi­ness. When I knew that I wanted to write this book I also knew that I would have to make a lot of sac­ri­fices. I could af­ford to write for a year while I put the fur­ni­ture busi­ness on hold and I had some­one very spe­cial who was also will­ing to help me. “If I wanted to fin­ish this book, I had to com­mit to it oth­er­wise I would start up my fur­ni­ture busi­ness again and then I would never re­turn to the book. If I failed I would have wasted a lot of time. “I got into a rou­tine where I would med­i­tate in the morn­ing,

then lis­ten to the au­dio of the Se­cret and other mo­ti­va­tional speak­ers. Soon af­ter I’d sit at my lap­top and let the words flow. Every time I’d fin­ish a chap­ter I would re­ward my­self with a glass of wine, which was a great in­cen­tive to fin­ish­ing four chap­ters in a day!” The feel­ing Na­cola got from com­plet­ing the book has left her want­ing more…“I have been toy­ing with a cou­ple of ideas which I have shared with friends and the sup­port has fu­elled my ex­cite­ment to be­gin my next novel.” The ti­tle of her first one, ‘Strength of a Name’, stems from the prac­tice prior to the nine­teenth cen­tury when the his­tory of the Fi­jian peo­ple was not recorded in writ­ing but passed down through names and sto­ries, Na­cola ex­plained. Events and cer­e­mo­nial oc­ca­sions were recorded in the nam­ing of a new-born child. The name was alive and evoked the thoughts, be­liefs and his­tory of the peo­ple. “When a child car­ries the name of an el­der, it is be­lieved the achieve­ments of the pre­vi­ous owner are kept alive and as­sure a bright fu­ture for the new one be­ing named.” That be­ing the case, the child who car­ries Tu­lia Na­cola’s name should be es­pe­cially en­dowed.

Tu­lia Na­cola shows off her first book.

Na­cola’s mum and dad, Anne and Ratu Jo in their younger days.

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