The daughter of Krakatoa

Jodi Liam spilled her guts.

She vomited in the hallway at school.

It was during history class, that she’d started crying and Mr Prasad, the history teacher, had asked her to leave. He appeared to be embarrassed by her emotions and although he asked her if she was alright, he didn’t really seem to care too much. His eyes were large and bulbous, containing the urgency of a man on a mission. When he spoke about fault lines and geography, he was in no mood for the silly emotions of a teenage girl.

After she’d left the room, he continued lecturing about Krakatoa.

He told us that on the twenty seventh day of the year 1883, an enormous volcano erupted, spewing itself out into the earth surrounding it. It was the largest explosion recorded in history and it was heard up to eight times around the world. After the eruption, a blanket of cloud covered the sun and the world was in darkness for approximately two weeks.

I couldn’t imagine living in darkness for two weeks.

The nights were long enough already.

Because of the volcanic eruption, multiple Tsunami’s occurred, including ones which were up to forty metres high, devastating nearby coastlines.

The horrific natural event and it’s aftermath was responsible for a final death toll of thirty six thousand, four hundred and seventeen people.

Since then, there is something else growing beneath where Krakatoa once stood proudly yet menacingly in the ocean. The son of Krakatoa; Anak Krakatoa continues to now grow at a rate of fifteen metres each year. One day, the son of Krakatoa will emanate it’s father and will erupt and explode itself out into the world.

I think about the beautiful islands and landscape surrounding this location. I know of families who visit the islands and surroundings of Sumatra and Java for holidays. Many tourists visit Anak and stand on the edge of it, trying to feel a fraction of the enormity of it’s father.

I hope they’re not there when Krakatoa’s son loses his cool.

Jodi’s father loses his cool.

I think that’s why she was crying in geography class.

She’s not very open about discussing her family but I went to her house once and her father was slumped in an arm chair in the lounge room, a can of beer within his strong hands, the gambling pages of a newspaper strewn across his hairy legs.

He grunted at me rudely when I said Hello Mr Liam, so I widened my eyes to stop them from rolling. I would never want to upset Jodi though I felt sorry for her.

Sometimes, Jodi has bruises on her and she tells me that she has bumped into a doorway or fallen off her horse. I’m not sure how to ask her about the truth of her father or the bruises so I just nod and say alright Jodi, ok as long as you’re o.k.

This morning, her lip was cut and there wasn’t any blood but another bruise was appearing. I gave her a cuddle at the front gate and told her that I was here for her if she wanted to talk. She wiped her salty eyes and pushed her shoulders back.

Jodi is strong.

I worry about her because I know that a girl who loves horses so much, a girl who I’ve seen ride fast like a jockey, with precision and confidence, could never fall off a horse that many times.

I wonder when she will spill her insides out into the surrounds of a peaceful place, just like Krakatoa.

This morning, as Mr Prasad talked about the worlds largest explosion, I glanced sideways at Jodi and noticed her crying.

A few minutes after she’d left the classroom, I asked Mr Prasad if I could be excused to go to the toilet. He looked at me with suspicion but allowed me to leave.

In the hallway, I found Jodi doubled over, vomiting. I held her hair back from her face and comforted her.

I offered to take her to the principals office.

She got angry and stormed off, almost slipping over in her vomit.

I found her in the female toilets, locked within a cubicle. I put my hand on the door and asked her to be honest with me. I told her that her secret was safe and that I cared. She opened the door slowly and told me everything quickly.

She explained about how her father had slapped her across the face this morning with the back of his hand.

It wasn’t the first time.

She didn’t want to tell anyone because she was afraid that she would lose him and have nobody to care for her.

Jodi and her father lived alone, her mother had long left. She had a horse in the agistment paddock three blocks from her house and she was thankful that her father cared enough to give her that. She said he wasn’t all bad but sometimes he exploded.

Yes, just like Krakatoa.

I asked Jodi if she had a brother. She said no and we both smiled just a little bit. The world didn’t need another Anak.

This morning, a powerful earthquake, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale jolted the Indonesian island of Java. Another small Tsunami was reported in a village nearby. In the year 2004, a huge Indian ocean tsunami claimed many lives and was well documented world wide.

In our humble home in the suburbs of Melbourne, I think about why people would choose to live in places with such a high risk of devastation. Of course, some know no better or have little choice. Or so they believe.

Jodi lives in a high risk home and I wonder when she will understand that she has a choice.

I would be devastated if it killed her.

I can’t stop the natural disasters of the world, but I plan to help Jodi change her life.

She held my hand and squeezed it tightly as we walked toward the principals office.

A Tsunami was coming.

© ryan

The daughter of Krakatoa

PJ Ryan

Melbourne, Australia

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Artist's Description


“Suddenly it became pitch black.
The last thing I saw was the ash.” -From A. Scarth.

On August 27th, 1883 a series of blasts on the island of Krakatoa culminated in a colossal explosion that blew the island apart in one of the largest eruptions in recorded history.

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