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Fragments of a Journey

A Fistful of Life

Fragments by Jose de Koster, Blog 2

Fragments of a Journey

A Fistful of Life

Blog 2

Second instalment of autobigraphy of the late Jose de Koster, artist and writer

She also wrote articles and poems for the newspapers –papers such as the Deli Courant, Locomotive, Java Bode. Towards the end of her life she began her autobiography which she intended to write in three parts but that dream was thwarted by her early death. Part one entitled “Eva” did come into being and my brothers and I each have a copy together with some short stories.

She was a storyteller supreme.When she spoke, people listened. Every- thing was a story to be remembered even if only telling the babu cuci (woman who laundered our clothes) to wash that day, mainly the sheets, it became a cantata. When, whoever listened to her tales about her father, laughter shot into the sky through the jungle green – for he was a character. My little dark being cradled in the sound of her tales, my dark eyes fixed on her, my love overwhelming for her and lonely for her love and pride in me, for while I did feel her love, I also felt her concern for herworry childas she called me. I felt somehow uworthy of her love for this child that seemed a problem.

My father, one of ten children, came from a family entirely different in temperament, steady, sturdy, dry citizens of the Low Countries, dark-haired and, although stiffly formal, were given to much giggling, unlike my mother’s family who would burst into uproarious laughter. My favourite of the siblings was Eddy who was vivacious and had fun in life. During World War 11, as a Japanese prisoner of war, he was transferred to Japan by ship but never arrived there as the ship was sunk off the Sumatran coast. His ability to swim kept him alive only to be beset by the horrors of the concentration camp at Pekanbaru working on that useless railway that had never been used, a track as notorious as the Burma track, stretches of rail under which dead bodies reminded you of the truth. The fates that looked kindly on him during this period of time abandoned him a little later. He died young as a result of a motor bike crash in his thirties or forties.



Long ago, Sumatran jungle green embraced my birth – and green-cloth is still my colour.
Living here in the Blue Mountains which drapes mist deep inside our smiles like a veil,
hides my old house,
fits my anxieties like a glove
on the hand which holds my soul.

I remember deep, dark green echoes of tiger and simian where I was born,
a pain to my pianist mother.

Slow is the meaning of life.


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It is the anniversary of Guus de Koster on Monday 13th September. I came across this page while trying to find videos of him acting. I am one of his Great Granddaughters -Hope. I remember Jose coming over from the Blue Mountains to Auckland to visit my Papa. I have fond memories of Jose teaching me how to paint. Thank you for creating this space where we can come and remember them.
Please keep in touch or share any photos you have.
Take care!


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