The years after World War Two

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

On our way to Sri Lanka

The British navy looked well after us on the ship the Princess Beatrix, we had enough to eat and to drink. We were all dead tired and fell asleep quite early. It was fun to sleep in those hammocks, I found them quite comfortable. And luckily my mother was feeling a little better, she had even eaten a little.

The next morning was wonderful, many of us went up to the decks where we were able to see the coast of Sumatra. It was a beautiful sight seeing the sun coming up, and listening to the engine that had clocked up quite some kilometres already. This time we were really free and that felt good after all we had gone through.

We all had a real English breakfast, also my mother had come upstairs to join her three daughters. It tasted real good.

All the Dutch passengers were sitting on the decks, we had nothing else to do, there were no books to read, but… there was music and that made the journey pleasant enough.

When we passed the narrow strait between Sumatra and Malaysia our ship the Princess Beatrix started going up and down dancing on the sea. That made a lot of people very seasick, but luckily it didn't seam to bother my stomach, so I could watch those high waves hitting the ship, it was a fascinating sight. I stood very close near the railing, I wanted to see everything that moved in the sea, but then all of a sudden someone above the deck where I stood was vomiting all over me. I was so shocked that I didn't move, a sailor who saw it all happening run forwards and cried out aloud: ”Oh my God” He picked me up and brought me to the showers and he gave me a piece of soap. I don't know how long I stood there cleaning my self while keeping my clothes on under the shower. Then I walked back upstairs and sat there soaking wet on the deck in the sun to dry up again. When my sailor came to see me and to find out if everything was okay with me, he just stared at me and said it again “Oh my God” then he walked away. He must have thought that those Dutch people from Indonesia were very strange people, I sat there completely apathetic not saying a word, with my hair and clothes soaking wet. Poor sailor, I must have looked like a wet ghost to him.

My mother could also come upstairs on the deck when the sea was calm again, she felt a lot better now, and the same counted for my two younger sisters who both had been a little seasick And once my hair was almost dry I combed it in form again and I felt a lot better.

The British sailors organized some games for the children so my youngest sister could play at last with the other children, that made her feel better and happy. Anyhow everything was much better than the first day, when we had to leave Indonesia. This journey was a sort of vacation.

When the ship arrived in the harbour from Colombo, I was surprised that it didn't look like Indonesia, I found the atmosphere completely different. I liked the sarees the women were wearing, the colours were very beautiful, the monks dressed in orange impressed me too.

We were brought by train to Kandy, a town in the mountains. We arrived at an ex military camp,B1t, the four of us had a room with four camp beds, wonderful to sleep on after having slept on dirty mattresses on the floor for over two years long.

We all had our meals together in the dining room, the food was good, I especially liked the curry that was used in most of the meals, but also the British breakfast was great.

Dutch teachers and docents started several classes, so that we could catch up a little before arriving in Holland where our school life has to continue after a break of four years long without any form of school at all. It was not easy, we had lost so much time, we were all so much older, and we had seen and experienced far too much of the ugliness in our young lives during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia. I realized that although the war was over, that there were still many struggles to overcome. When you are eighteen years young, life should be a dream, but it wasn't.
 

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