Friday, June 1, 2007

Father & Son Meet At Last

Fijituwawa welcomes your comments on the following story adapted from today's Fiji Times 01st June 2007. You are welcomed to share similar stories that you may know. Vinaka!

CARLOS and Ilai Nabobo will agree home is where the heart is.

This is the story of how a young boy's dream became reality when he was 29-years-old.
Mention the name Ilai Nabobo and the first thing people his age would think of is rugby.

To this former Fiji lock forward, there was nothing sweeter than winning a game of rugby during his playing days in the late 1970s.

However, earlier this week Mr Nabobo could not hold back tears of joy when he saw his son Carlos, in front of his Navicula home in Wainibuka. It was a case of the lost son who had finally found his way home.

Mr Nabobo admitted it was the happiest day of his life, better than his rugby-playing days.
Carlos was born when Mr Nabobo was playing rugby league in Brisbane in 1978.

Mr Nabobo returned to Fiji in 1979 when Carlos was eight months old.
It took Carlos 29 years to finally have the courage to look for his father.

It was something he had always wanted to do but the feeling of uncertainty always sprung up when he thought of traveling to Fiji.

"This is the moment I have been waiting for the whole of my life and my dreams have finally come true," Carlos said.

"Today I have been liberated because I have found my true identity, I am proud to be who I am and I am proud to have seen my real father," he said.

"The thought of seeing my father had been hanging there at the back of my head all the time, but I did not have the courage to actually start my search.

"At times I asked around the Fijian community in Brisbane and most of them knew dad, because he was a national rugby rep," he said.

Carlos said in 1999 he thought of making a trip to Fiji to see where Wainibuka was.
"Actually I had booked the plane three times to come over but I cancelled it at the last minute thinking I would not be accepted by my father.

"I just did not want to experience that. Actually I was afraid," he said.
"At one stage I asked Lote Tuqiri (senior) just to tell me what he knows about dad.
"The answer I got was that he was a tall man and he lived somewhere in the bush," he said.
He said he searched websites for information that could help him identify his dad.

"Before coming on the trip I almost jumped out of the plane again, but I prayed and I knew it was God's plan to be here," the devoted Christian said.
"I got off in Nadi and came by bus to Suva and was dropped off in town, I did not know a single person and my only point of contact was back in Brisbane.

Carlos said as soon as he got off the bus he had to look for a phone booth where he could call back to Brisbane to give him a number to a Fijian friend.

"The worst thing was that I searched for a Nabobo in the directory and could not even find one, I was disappointed but I knew I had to keep on searching.
"As I was looking around in front of the Suvavou House a young man by the name of Jim came by and I explained the situation I was in. He was forever helpful and I thought to myself this could be a good sign," he said.

He said the lucky thing was that Jim told him that his grandmother was also from Wainibuka, so they called her up to help them find a relative for Carlos.

"Jim's grandmother told us she knew my aunt, who is my dad's sister and we called her straight away," Carlos said.

"I called my aunt and told her who I was, the reception was one that I could not believe because she was just too happy to have me at her place to tell me that they knew about me.
"It was a bit emotional for me but I guess it was just the work of the Lord that made all these happenings possible," he said.

Carlos said the very next day his aunt made arrangements with his dad back in the village to prepare a feast for a special guest.
"I was taken by my aunt and other cousins and I had never felt liberated before when I was introduced to my dad and grandmother who were sitting on top of the table mat at home," he said.

His first remarks about his village were "it is just exotic".

"I have never seen and felt this way before," he said.
"My dad had to kill a cow for the village and family to feast on just to mark my presence in the village and for that I am deeply overwhelmed," he said.

Carlos said the saying there is no place like home was an apt description for his trip to Fiji.