At Home and in Malang
History, geography, botany and zoology were my favourite subjects. I learned quite a lot about the Indonesian flora and fauna. At school, of course, but also during my walks with my father.
My father and I started walking outside the plantation now and then. One day we saw a mother panther walking slowly with her two “kittens”. The little ones looked adorable; I wanted to caress them, but that was strictly forbidden.
We saw all sorts of monkeys and, alas, many snakes as well. There are all sorts of snakes in Indonesia; some of them are extremely poisonous. Indonesia has a great variety of flowers and many of them have beautiful colours.
Our garden boy found a little sister for Dessie, but he didn’t like her at all. She couldn’t stay with Dessie in one cage, so the garden boy quickly built a second cage for Vrouwtje, as we called her.
Dessie broke out of his cage now and then. The funny thing was that he went straight to the bathroom to grab a piece of soap, which he put in his mouth. Then he would sit on the roof smiling at us with a mouth full of foam. He always went back to his cage; he knew that he would get his food there.
One day we visited a cave on the plantation that was known for its old Chinese copper coins, which were round with a hole in the middle. In the cave was a bed of stone, and snakes that were colourless and blind. There were a lot of monkeys living around this cave. The Indonesians didn’t like to go inside and I didn’t blame them; it was spooky.
My life in Malang was completely different. I was now staying with the family Wildervanck. Their daughter Hanneke was my friend. The family also took care of two boys a little older than I. It was a very nice boarding-house
My new school was wonderful. I liked my teacher and the pupils too, but what I liked most was the nearby swimming pool. My parents gave me a season ticket so that I could swim daily. I received my first swimming
certificate and became a good swimmer.
We had a really good library at school, so I started reading one book after the other. My father suggested that I should start reading the newspapers; my parents had the Java Bode and The Malanger. They also had some magazines like The Orient, which was the one I always read.
My father taught me to play draughts every Sunday morning. I only won once! Although my mother often said that he should let me win too now and then, my father said that I just had to learn to concentrate.
My mother often played the piano, which she did very well. I took a chair and sat next to her. But I didn’t feel like learning to play the piano myself; just listening to my mother’s playing made me feel happy. Also the music coming from the radio was great. We could hear a lot of American music coming into our homes in those days - lots of happy sounds and dancing music.
One Sunday we went to Malang and Jansje was baptized. We had to go to a photographer who took a nice photo of my parents’ three daughters. Henny and I each received an ice-cream at Toko Oen, and Jansje looked around her in surprise. There were always lots of people at Toko Oen.
Life was very special both at home and in Malang.