Stories I (don’t) tell …

4 May

There are some stories I tell all the time about my experiences as a volunteer in unusual places.  They become rote stories that have the same intonation and wording from repeated tellings.  They belong to the collective consciousness of my friends and family, who have heard them so many times they know when they are coming.

This is one story I tell that has become part of a body of stories I no longer own but have been told so many times they exist in the collective mind of my family and friends.

This house was opposite mine, and every morning and evening when I left and came home the ladies who lived here said hello.  One day in the middle of winter I stayed inside all day.  The next day, on my way to school one old lady called, “Nakamarra, you lazy one!  You didn’t go anywhere yesterday!”

I tell this story because it reflects the extreme belonging I felt during my time in Yuendumu and the everyone-knowing-everything-about-everyone feeling that existed in the community.

But there are some stories I don’t tell.  I don’t tell them because I still can’t make sense of them in my mind, or because I worry about people’s reactions and my ability to enter into the resultant conversation, or simply because they are precious memories.

This is a Voicethread of photos and stories I don’t tell.

Are there stories you don’t tell?


5 Responses to “Stories I (don’t) tell …”

  1. Elle May 5, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    Wow! Powerful stuff. I can definitely relate to this. I too have those crowd-pleasing stories but there are certainly some that I keep reserved, some that I don’t think I have told to anybody. Some of them are personal and some of them are about other people or situations. And these are the stories which stay in my mind the most. I don’t think I’m ready to tell them yet, or maybe I just haven’t found the right person to tell.

    Hats off to you!

  2. stellainindia May 5, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    I intended to say nearly exactly what Elle just has. Fantastic post, and hauntingly beautiful pictures and stories found in the link.

    I too have stories I don’t tell mostly as they are either too confronting or alien. I discussed in a previous blog this predicament, and told stories I haven’t before told (part of the thrill of this blog)so its wonderful to hear yours.

    Do you sympathise with the feeling of having learned lot, about something maybe you could help change, with the support of those at home, yet the feeling that it is possibly too foreign to even bother telling the stories?

    • Nakamarra May 5, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

      I agree with you about the thrill of this blog being the ability to tell stories! My family and friends are, if not sick of them, at least a bit immune to my stories now.
      And I agree with you about our stories being foreign and too far removed from our lives and the lives of our listeners. I’ve felt that apathy over telling them too, because I know they won’t understand, which is why I think I have some rote stories I tell a lot! But stories are what changes nations, directs revolutions, and empowers individuals. I think we should go on telling them!

      ~No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather we who read it are no longer the same interpreters ~ George Eliot

  3. bec4890 May 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    I often feel guilty because I don’t tell some of my stories. I feel horrible when I think of a story and I don’t tell my fiancee. I feel like he wouldn’t understand or its something he doesn’t want or need to hear. Sometimes its the sad or scary stories. I think I also dont tell stories because I am going back in July and dont want my family and friends to worry while Im there because of something I have told them. I think its great that I have regular catch ups with the other volunteers that were with me. We understand each other and can tell the stories that no one else can hear.


  1. Question time « EthnoSense - May 11, 2011

    […] “doing a good thing for them”..? Hmm. I have to admit (kind of spurred by the post on stories I don’t tell) that there have been things on my mind about the volunteer program/my overall experience, and […]

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