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.

Dessie
 
 
Jansje baptized

 

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