Wounds still open Bali bombing survivor opens her heart

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram October 12 marked the anniversary of one of the most shocking and violent acts of islamic terrorism; the Bali Bombing that destroyed two nightclubs packed with tourists on the island’s popular Kuta Beach, leaving 202 people dead and 209 injured. Maria Kotronakis is one of the people who survived the terrible event. Her sisters and cousins were not so lucky. Both her twin sister, Dimmy and her six years older one, Elizabeth, were among the 88 Australians killed by the bombing, as were their two cousins, Christine Betmalik and Louiza Zervos.In an interview with ‘NewsCorp Media, Maria Kotronakis admitted that not a day passes without her thinking of her sisters and cousins (of which she often writes on Facebook, describing them as “my sisters, my angels, my everything” and saying “if only you were both here”). Each year, the anniversary renders her “anxious, moody and short-temper”, as she relives the terror, but this year anniversary has been especially difficult.  After several years of trying to heal the wounds and move on with her life, she is on the right track, having met her soulmate, Steve Konitsas. However, the couple’s plan to get married have been put on hold, as Maria’s mother, Vicky, is ill with terminal cancer. “We have no date because my mum is ill. They haven’t said how long, but she doesn’t want us to get married before she passes,” Maria said. “She told us she wants to see my sisters [Dimmy and Elizabeth] up there and she doesn’t want us to mourn, or worry. She has been scared of what is going to happen to me and my dad.”Her parents, Vicky and Peter, a truck driver, had met as children in Greece’s Peloponnese region, emigrated to Australia and married in 1966 in Sydney. When their daughters were born, the family moved to Blacktown. The sisters were very close, so that it was natural that they followed Maria to her honeymoon in Bali, after she got married. It was a migraine that prevented Maria from joining the others for a night out. She stayed at the hotel, while her sisters and cousins headed to the Sari Club, popular among Australian tourists, outside of which was a van containing a bomb, put by Jemaah Islamiah, an al-Qaeda group. 25 people were held responsible for the attacks.  At their homes, police found copies of speeches by Osama bin Laden, and Abu Bakar Bashir, the radical Indonesian Muslim cleric and head of Jamaal Islamiah. Six years after the event, three of the bombers were executed. Maria has no compassion for the perpetrators of this terrible act, saving her sympathy for the victims of crime and terror. She still remembers the devastating return home without her sisters and cousins and how she had to wait for their remains to be identified and returned back to Australia. Her sisters’ graves are at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney, where Peter Kotronakis visits regularly to keep their candles burning in the Greek Orthodox tradition. But Maria prefers to go to Bali to honour their memory.  ”I don’t go very often because I don’t feel they are there. My sisters died in Bali. A piece of them will always be there,” she said. last_img read more