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Gepubliceerd, 2006 – Vertaling / Translation 2010 door / by Erwin Verhoeven, The Netherlands, Europe *
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MERCEDES CORBY, HER STORY.
Published in 2006
Wild accusations, controversial TV reports and harassment by complete strangers are just a few of the daily horrors Mercedes Corby faces. Here, the 32-year-old talks about a happy childhood, the day of her sister's arrest and the hell that followed.
Before Schapelle was arrested in Bali two-and- a-half years ago, I enjoyed a happy life. I’d never had to endure any major crisis; I didn’t really know what stress was before that horrible day. Then my carefree life vanished into yesterday. Never could I have imagined the pain and turmoil that would come to fill the daily lives of my whole family.
I’m the eldest of six children – three boys and three girls – and I loved growing up in a big family. Until I was 10, I had just two siblings – Schapelle and Michael. We had a tight bond, with only a year between each of us. Schapelle and I were best friends, sharing a bedroom, friends and clothes
We did everything together. We could spend hours sitting in the grass making daisy chains or putting together dance routines. Schapelle’s always been a bit shy and I’ve often felt very protective of her – although she can definitely stand up for herself when she needs to.
Our parents split up when I was five, but it didn’t affect us much, as we still saw heaps of Dad. Mum and Dad stayed close friends and although we lived with Mum, we spent most of our school holidays up on Dad’s land at the beach. Despite the age gap, we were also very close to our three younger siblings.
Our home was full of people, fun and laughter. We were an outdoors family with Mum forever telling us, “Get outside, you kids.”.
I spent most of my childhood playing sports, riding bikes, at the beach, and Mum took us on regular weekend camping trips down the coast. As teenagers, Schapelle, Michael and I got hooked on surfing. We joined a local Gold Coast Surf Club and spent our weekends patrolling the beaches and hitting the surf.
My close school friends were also in the club. We had a lot of great times. To me, there’s nothing better than the sun, surf, being fit and being able to share it with family and friends. I became the surf club’s first-aid officer in my late teens. We competed against other clubs, with my team often making the state finals.
Mum worked hard to give us everything she’d missed out on in her own childhood. She’d done it tough, spending her early years in and out of orphanages. She’s never complained or felt sorry for herself, but it made her determined to give us a good life.
She’s the most protective, loving, generous mum we could ask for. She worked two or three factory jobs to pay for nice clothes, holidays and after-school classes. She sent Schapelle, Michael and I to tae kwon do classes. Schapelle and I also did ballet lessons for about 10 years. Although I was a bit of a tomboy, I loved dancing, concerts and costumes. I saved most of my costumes to pass onto my daughter, Nyeleigh, who now does ballet in Bali.
In 2004, we decided to take a five-month holiday to Bali, before Wayan started school on the Gold Coast. We had our little girl, Nyeleigh, by then, and felt it would be our last chance to give the two children a real taste of their dad’s culture and spend time with his family. We planned to be home by Christmas. But it didn’t work out. We didn’t get home. Instead, our lives turned to hell.
Nothing could have prepared us for the shock and trauma. It was incomprehensible. We’d been in Bali for about eight weeks when Schapelle was arrested on October 8, 2004, at Bali International Airport with 4.2kg of marijuana in her boogie-board bag.
She’d come to Bali for a two-week surfing holiday and to help me celebrate my 30th birthday – a milestone I was dreading.
Then, suddenly, my little sister was facing the death penalty. We’d crashed into a whole new life. It was surreal. I felt a darkness fill my heart. It’s never shifted; it won’t until my sister is free.
I lost 10kg through stress-induced vomiting and diarrhea in those first few weeks. Pain and distress hit the moment I woke up and, most of the day, I felt as if battery acid was burning holes in my stomach.
Seeing Schapelle each day in a small concrete cell was shattering. We had to talk through the bars.
She would always try to be brave, but could rarely stop the tears pouring down her cheeks.
We were both so scared. We’d clasp each others hands for comfort. Saying goodbye each day was soul destroying. It was the hardest and loneliest feeling in the world to walk away. I usually didn’t make it far before I threw up.
Often I’d hear Schapelle’s faint voice calling after me in the distance: “Bye Merc. I love you Merc.”
I’d turn around to wave to her, and see her clinging to the bars like a terrified child, watching me walk away.
I knew she usually collapsed into a sobbing mess after I left. I’d call back, “See you tomorrow, Schapelle,” trying to keep my voice steady, “You’ll be OK.”
But we both knew that nothing was OK. She was my precious little sister, who I’d always loved and protected, and there seemed absolutely nothing I could do to protect her now.
Two-and-a-half years later, we’ve adjusted as best we can. Time has helped us to live with this situation. We will never accept it – we’ll keep fighting. But we’ve started to build a new life in Bali. I owed it to myself, my kids, my husband and Schapelle to put some normality back into our daily lives.
I was a social recluse for the first 18 months. I couldn’t go out and enjoy myself, even with close friends. I’d get too upset thinking about my sister locked in a cage – as she calls it. My whole life was focused on our fight to prove her innocence.
I’d spend hours online and on the phone desperately searching for help and answers.
I still do, but I also have to make the best of this precious life. Schapelle wants me to do that.
She’s losing her life day by day. She doesn’t want that for me, too. She’s so pleased when I seem happier. That’s Schapelle; always concerned about others.
The kids and Schapelle love to see each other. They still don’t quite understand why she can’t leave with us. They used to ask about it all the time, “Why can’t Auntie Pelle come with us, Mum?” They’d feel the sadness, too. They don’t say it as often now, although just a couple of weeks ago, Wayan asked, “When’s Auntie Pelle going home to Australia, Mum?” “Not sure, honey.” He left it at that.
It’s my beautiful children who’ve helped keep me sane through this ordeal. Although we wanted our children to be educated in Australia, we’ve had to accept a different path for them. What has happened to Schapelle has changed the course of their lives. We will stay here as long as Schapelle is in jail.
The attention has created a lot of extra strain. We’d never had anything to do with the media before and thought we were doing the right thing by speaking to journalists, trying to get the message out that Schapelle was innocent.
Our lawyers at the time also told us to speak out so that it would push the Australian Government to help. It didn’t.
Many appalling and untrue things have also been written and said about my family and me. It deeply upsets me, although I try to be strong and do my best not to let these cruel and nasty stories get me down.
I’ve been broken a few times, where my strength vanishes and I collapse into a lifeless heap on the floor.
But I can’t stay down for long. I know I have to pull myself together, not only for me but for my family and friends.
One thing that angers me is when reporters who’ve never met me or my family call us uneducated or unskilled, even ‘trash’. They know nothing about us. For the record, my father is a well-educated and smart man; he’s an electrical engineer and has had good jobs all his life. There are Corbys who have university degrees. My mother has worked very hard all her life to support her family. These people don’t know us. They don’t know that I finished school, went to college, speak four languages fluently and am learning a fifth.
I now have three beautiful children and I take my role as a mother very seriously.
I’m trying to live as normal a life as possible, but I’ve forgotten what it feels like to live without stress and strain and to feel good. My heart aches with sadness. My little sister is losing her life.
We never know what hell is around the next turn. People often used to comment that I looked very young for my age, now I know I look a lot older than I am.
I live with an aching heaviness, a deep sadness and a tightness in my stomach, like an elastic band has been twisted tightly around it. Will my beautiful sister ever get to have a family or enjoy her life?
I love my sister and I miss her. I miss shopping with her, going out to dinner. She’s my best friend and she’s locked away from us all.
I know she is innocent and I will keep fighting for her freedom and for answers. I will never stop. I will never give up.===================
Mercedes is a victim too: a courageous intelligent woman whose love for her sister shines through like a beacon, as she fights for Schapelle's life day after day, week after week, year after year. A wonderful sister and an incredibly warm person.
You are not alone Mercedes: please know that every member of this Facebook group is by your side, and will fight with you for Schapelle until justice prevails and she is free.
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