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  • Writer's pictureAvery Navarro


CHAPTER 1 (con't)

Starlight, our precious family home, windswept and faded, with her constantly repaired slate roof and escaping bougainvillea garden overlooking Sydney Harbour, is rich in the chemistry of imagination.

I was born in the 80s, along with my twin brother Ari, and my first memories are of sunlight streaming onto a Persian carpet, the scent of night-blooming Jasmin on a westerly breeze, and when I was a toddler with pneumonia, a first nation, Cammeraygal, nurse leaning into my cot with a tender smile.

I had a lucky childhood, with some horrible moments like everyone, but I’d definitely relive the best parts if I could; summers fishing with Ari, exploring the neighbourhood bays and inlets in dinghies, “borrowed” from moorings in front of wealthy homes, journeying to the far reaches of Sydney Harbour as stowaways, on ferries, our favourite called Golden Grove, summertime nights at Starlight watching the glittering city lights, and the ferries scudding like fireflies between Kirribilli and the Opera House and Circular Quay. During our childhood, summertime was Mum and Dad’s Starlight time, when they came home from their adventures to tell us exotic stories that amazed us as children, and they’re still amazing us today. Our childhood began in 1982, and I think of the 80s as our Mark Twain days, when our biggest problem was innocence.  As Ari once said, “We grew up like a couple of first nation harbour sprites and it’s a freedom we should never forget.”

I’m grateful for my Starlight past, and I suppose you could say I assumed I had an almost predictable future thanks to my lucky upbringing. I was wrong of course. A hundred years after Seraphina built Starlight, history repeated itself with the health crisis and the world was forever changed. The effect on our medical family has been intense, as you will see, intertwining our professional and personal days in complicated ways. Like the rest of the world, we had no idea what was coming, but none of us expected the catalytic effect of discovering Seraphina’s secrets which she’d left hidden in Starlight for a hundred years. She meticulously documented her life in audio recordings, and photographs, and what follows is a transcript of her first recording made in 1920, one of the many we discovered during the 2020 lockdown. Because she was an accomplished electromagnetic engineer, Seraphina’s recordings are amazingly clear. As you read her words you should know that if you had her shellac 78 playing in front of you, it would be like listening to her talk in the same room.  


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