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Fragments of a Journey

A Fistful of Life

Chapter 5


Haiku of contents

Two women, revenge

gunfire, blood on the streets

loss of Motherland.



Fragment: The street

Bartering for a few food items in the pasar (markets)strung along the road near Molenvliet, I heard shrill shots shattering the peace of the market.People looked up startled. Some ran,others hid behind the cardboard walls of the huts standing there.I hit the ground, stayed silent amongst the mangoes and the salak (fruit of the palm tree, commonly known as snake fruit), my mouth pressed against a rattan chair, now unseated, feet running past me. I was just about to get up and run behind the building in front of me when bullets hit the pavement next to me and ricocheted against metal and cement, whistling song of death. The throng screamed, soldiers cursed and ran with flying bullets shot from their guns carrying their noise of destruction with them in the direction of the Ancol canal. The clamour continued for some time and suddenly there was silence. It lasted only a few moments, shattered by pounding footsteps and demented screaming when people found their loved ones. Water rippling with bodies fallen into the canal, dead bodies lying beside the canal, loved ones cut in half ,a scattering of the brain. As I was running, I saw a sight which nearly paralysed my heart, a man lying on top of a woman still alive but unable to move for fear and he, dead, the blood no longer flowing from his back which had a huge hole in it, shattered bone protruding from it in a congealed mess.



Chapter 6


haiku of contents

Yearnings for Freedom,

love sex, art and literature

Emigration calls

Extract 1

Fragment:Whispers of the dead

I had been near the Ryn, wandering through the town of Driel, observing the relics of the chaos and carnage that had been the war,when I saw him. His hand with its absolutely black fingernails stretched out towards me, made me think of the earth ploughed up by senseless bombardments.

“Can you hear them? Listen! The dead!” he hissed at me.He stared at me so intently that I had to turn away as I could not match his love-hate for whatever was in his head at that moment and was so evident on his face.

“You see that sloping earth, close to the water's edge?” he asked me, “ Well, I saw a hand in the earth there, clawing at the sky. Bodies lay everywhere here, mangled, some faceless, all dead. The dead deserve respect, regardless of uniform. Their voice have been silenced.” he thundered, his voice an increasing crescendo until he exhausted himself, at which point it turned into a diminuendo and he  wandered off muttering to himself. A little later, I heard he had been seen along the Dutch-German border, then in the north, then in the middle or south, continuously on the hunt for somewhere where he could find peace of mind.

“Unchain my heart,” sings Charles Ray on the radio. Unchain my heart.



Extract 2

It was in Holland, after I was no longer consumed with the horrors of the camps, with the violence during Bersiap (Indonesian Revolution), that art again entered my life. I started to see paintings in the sky, in the trees, on the streets, everywhere – like phantoms appearing and disappearing. I began to see the world differently and to this day, everything I see is photographed by the in- ner camera in my mind and kept there for further use. I am a museum full. I bought books and began studying the drawings and paintings therein. In gal- leries, I saw drawings by Eppo Doeve (Joseph Ferdinand Doeve) and marvelled at the strength of them. I saw the Danish monsters of Asger Jorn and I knew that those creatures lived in me.

I familiarised myself with conté (hard crayon) and charcoal, fingers black, paper full of black smudges, most thrown away. Sitting on my bike near a dyke, I had a conversation with a passer-by, an old man who had stopped to regain some air. I joined him on the grass and as we talked, he began drawing figures in the earth with a stick. I noticed the way he held the stick, flat inside his fingers, sliding over the wet earth in large movements. At home, I tried it with a bit of charcoal and, lo and behold, it was if God had shown me the way. The man who has no face in my memory gave me the secret of my hands. In a film, I saw Dobell do it; Boyd as well and in a film about Francisco Goya, whose hands flew over the paper or the canvas, also working that way and now and then lifting a little. Ah, mystery! This knowledge killed in me that precious rub- bish spread by many artists whom I call conversational artists

fragments of a Journey, A Fisful of Life

Jose de Koster

The author as a young man

Aurora, by the author,oil on canvas

Black hair hiding brown eyes

a song written behind the flashes

of lightning fast thoughts.

What was it you said to me

on the dyke, our feet in the Zuyderzee.

So many promised me light

and yet it is still dark.”

and I, in love

added to it all.

Yet last night

I dreamt you in my arms.

I have no regrets

only wishes.

The Eye of the Muse, by the author, oil on canvas

The Lonely Artist, by the author, oil on canvas

Lost and Blue, by author,oil on canvas