Tag Archives: Kenya

Narrator – mask of an idol


In the inverted world of Amsterdam I had received the appearance of an idol. Suddenly I was more than welcome everywhere; I was asked at performances and for parties. Everyone wanted to be seen with me or in my neighbourhood. For other people I seemed to carry a divine aureole. In my vicinity strangers felt to be included in a heavenly glow. They all dreamt that I owned the gateway to Heaven [1].

[2]

New lovers imagined themselves in an space travel with me, connected with the universe or included in dream-world more beautiful than life. I was for them the connection to an everlasting paradise.

[3]

In my wealth a Goddess appeared  – again a white [4] Citroën DS – wherein I accomplished the glory humming on the road [7], just like the charioteer Kṛṣṇa [5] in the Bhagavad Gita [6]. As Idol and centre I encouraged, I steered and I shaped the world around me; I was the eye of a cyclone – even empty, temporary and stilled inside.

Idolatry

 Transitory in one sigh

Seen in the Sunlight

Beauty is a terrible and awful thing! It is terrible because it has not been fathomed, for God sets us nothing but riddles. Here the boundaries meet and all contradictions exist side by side. [8]  This citation from The Brothers Karamazov by Dostojewski described my volatile position as idol within the inverted world in Amsterdam. This quote was also the motto of Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima from which I derived to some extent an interpretation of my role as icon in the world where men love of men; for my lovers, I was not only their beloved, but I was also their competitor in their love for other men in the polygamous homosexual world in Amsterdam at that time.

[9]

In addition to an interpretation of my idle position in the inverted world in Holland, I was looking for insight in the development of my life. After reading the tetralogy Sea of Fertility [10] by Yukio Mishima, the fourfold reincarnation of the second main person gave some overview of my situation.

[11]

In line with this way of thinking, the first reincarnation in my life – under the name Kṛṣṇa – covered the period from my early childhood to my departure from Kenya. Now – as a temporary idol – I was at the height of my second incarnation in my life. I foresaw that my life as icon would soon implode; I decided to leave the inverted world of Holland for some time. After my share in a serious war crime during my first reincarnation in Kenya, I wished to guide the continuation of my life in a correct manner. It was also time for penance for this war crime.


[1] See the book Genesis 28:10-19 in the Old Testament for Jacob’s dream wherein Jacob takes a ladder with descending and ascending angels for the gate to Heaven. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob’s_Ladder

[2] Painting: Jacob’s dream of a ladder of angels, c. 1690, by Michael Willmann. Source image:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream

[3] The Dream by Henri Rousseau, 1910. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droom

[4] The name Arjuna means amongst others “wit, clear, silver”; one may recognise also “arh” in the name meaning “worthy, capable of”. Arjuna is one of the main characters in the Mahābhārata. He is one of the five brothers who live together with one wife Draupadi – the most beautiful and influential wife of her time – in polyandry. The five brother fight for their rightful share of the kingdom, for the honour of Draupadi and for maintenance of the world order

[5] In Sanskrit Kṛṣṇa means amongst others “black”, “blue black”, “the dark period of the moon-cycle” Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[6] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavad_gita

[7] See also: Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990

[8] Source: Dostoevsky, Fyodor, The Karamazov Brothers. Ware: Wordsworth Edition Limited, 2007, p. 114

[9] Source image: Frontside of the cover of Mishima, Yukio. Confessions of a Mask. New York: A New Directions Book, 1958 (Eleventh printing)

[10] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sea_of_Fertility

[11] Source image: Hatsuhana doing penance under the Tonosawa waterfall van Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861). This image is used as cover for the French edition of the Sea of Fertility by Yukio Mishima.

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Narrator – Amsterdam: the inverted world 2


The first winter in Holland, life was a party. Everything was different than in my native country. The days were grey, bleak and cold, but the houses were hot inside with artificial light until well into the evening. There was food in abundance, but usually the hospitality did not allow sharing a meal. In the beginning I thought that people were embarrassed for their inability to prepare a tasty meal. Much later I found out that faith, thrift and money played an important role.

Via a detour I was often invited to the meal; as a guest I offered to prepare the meal. In Rome I had learned to cook. In this way we enjoyed an un-Dutch tasty meal in an un-Dutch manner. Also my lovers appreciated my cooking.

[1]

My first winter in Amsterdam I saw real gnomes with long hair and dishevelled clothes. They wished to be free of any tradition and to discover themselves in a new world; this is all history. I still love the pop music from that time. They wished to discover themselves in a known world; I discovered myself in an inverted world; this is all history now.

The first spring in Amsterdam my exotic love wafted through the city: I met the most beautiful lovers. All were different and all were the same. With one lover we drove by car through Holland. We saw the multi-coloured striped tulip fields in the endless plains. My loves were equally direct, intense, colourful, all-encompassing and temporary as this floral splendour. I was a strange novelty from another world and therefore attractive strange within the community where men love men.

[2]

One of my lovers came from America. He had fled to Sweden to evade his mandatory contribution to the war in Vietnam as American conscript. That spring and summer he lived illegally at friends in Amsterdam because in this inverted city the new world would begin with everlasting peace. For him, I was the complementary dark yin that with his light-coloured yang would shape a way for harmony and peace. This dream lasted a marvellous half year until he had to flee to Sweden again. Later, when I could travel freely in Europe, I visited him in Stockholm several times. He let me share in the wealth of his family. Through him I learned driving a car and after his flight I owned a large American car named “Thunder Bird” for one summer. Free floating I glided as a whispering Thunder Bird through Holland. In the autumn I sold the car to get through the second winter.

[3]

At the end of the summer – Arjan my friend and lover from Kenya – came for half a year back in Holland. Via Arjan and his parents I received a permanent residence permit and later I obtained Dutch citizenship. Also in this case an inverted reasoning was followed in Holland; the army of Kenya was looking for me for my temporary membership of a political militia. At my return in Kenya my life would be in danger. By this reasoning I was turned from a perpetrator of crimes into a victim. I told Arjan that now I lived with the ghosts of killed villagers at the hands of the militia; because of this I was indirectly a victim by my own share of this crime. Arjan convinced me that if I got a Dutch passport by a white lie, I could travel freely in the world – excluding Kenya. Also in this case Amsterdam was an inverted world with an abundance; the embarrassment followed after a feast that lasted for 10 years .


[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kookkunst

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bollenstreek

[3] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Thunderbird

Narrator – by foot under the eye of the Cyclops


The first two days Luxembourg showed itself from its delightful side. I walked by a magical valley where I might have met elves and fairies. The people were nice and I imagined myself in paradise.

After this lovely meeting, I made acquaintance with Luxembourg as trolls country where hungry ghosts lived. The third night in Luxembourg there was a terrible thunderstorm. In the dark the flashes seemed to come from the eye of the Cyclops [1]. The lightning illuminated my path; the thunders rolled by the valleys. I had to flee, but there was no way out. Terrified I could only walk on. After several hours the thunderstorm disappeared and in a shelter I finally found rest. The rest of the night I heard the ticking of the rain. At dawn the rain stopped.

[2]

The whole area was shrouded in a thick fog and it was very cold in the early autumn. This world was new to me; I felt trapped in a grey dark underworld. I was looking for a way out. I saw nobody; I heard nobody. I was completely alone in a silent cold world. On my beard, my eyebrows and eyelashes were small drops. My clothing was cold and clammy. This night the Maasai God Engaï [3] had not brought me to life again. Was this the punishment for the night fire in the forest [4] that was lit by our militia in Kenya where we had killed the villagers with joy who wanted to escape from the fire?

[5]

After a half an hour walk it became slightly lighter; the sun rose: first very vague in the distance, later as an eye through the haze. This world was strange to me. I was still very cold. Later near Amsterdam I would get used to this weather type; I could blindly find my way in there.

[6]

On the left was a way uphill. I had to get away from this underworld. Tied under a ram Odysseus escaped from the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus. Covered in woollen clouds I walked uphill out of this underworld. Slowly it became lighter and the greyness faded away. At the top of the hill the clouds in the valleys looked like the fur of a flock of giant sheep.

[7]

On the way up I escaped from this lugubrious underworld. The sun was shining at last; after an hour walk I was dry and warm again. Luxembourg showed itself from its fairy-tale side. Via the plateau I arrived in Belgium.


[1] According to Greek mythology, Zeus owes his lightning, and Poseidon his thrident to the Cyclopes. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclops. See for a brief description of the adventures of Odysseus with the Cyclops: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus

[2] Source image: http://lb.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donnerwieder

[3] According to a Maasai myth the God Engaï gives cattle to the people and he brings people to life after their death and each day he lets the Moon die. After a sin wherein an opponent was desired death, Engaï lets people die and each night he brought the Moon to life. Source:  http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[4] See the last part of book 1 of the Mahābhārata where  at the fire in the Khandava forest, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa shoot arrows with joy to all that leaves the forest. Sources: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm boek 1 Section CCXXVII and further; Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990, p. 71 – 84

[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fog

[6] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebel

[7] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebel

Narrator – All ways lead to Rome


From the harbour of Alexandria I left Africa to never return again. I travelled by boat to Valletta in Malta and then with another boat to Rome. For the first time I was fully surrounded by water; constantly there was the cradles of the boat and the sloshing of waves. In the boat, I was again contained in the womb; I grew to a new life in another world. During day I napped in the shade and at night I watched the starry night and the moon. In silence I prepared for.

All-encompassing  Rome received me with open arms. Enclosed in the Catholic habits the afterlife was awaiting. Many habits were different than in Kenya, but for me it was a continuation of my heavenly school years at the nuns.

[1]

In that autumn and winter I did not discover the world of Rome, but Rome entrusted itself to me. Later on our quest to “Who are you”, I read in a book a short passage that reflects my life in Rome: “Is it a foregone conclusion that the discovery of the world only comes from our side? Why would not the world entrusts itself to us to be discovered?” [2]. Jalāl al-Dīn – in the Western and Muslim world better known as Rumi [3] – wrote: “Rome is always decaying and growing for You, and how should a man plead with You for the sake of a single man’s soul?” [4]

[5]

In Rome, the earthiness was linked to vanity and grandeur. During day and evening I worked in the kitchen of a posh restaurant.

[6]

In early morning I walked down the streets and I looked at the buildings from different times. During night I slept outdoors in parks and regularly there was a lover where I could stay.

[7]

That winter there was lots of rain in Rome and I saw the first snow in my life. I was astonished about the abundance of water.

[8]

The following spring it was possible to continue my voyage to Amsterdam. The roads to the North were passable again. I began my voyage from Rome to Amsterdam by foot.


[1] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome

[2] Bron: Safranski Rüdiger, Heidegger en zijn Tijd. Amsterdam: Olympus, 2012, vijfde druk p. 34

[3] Jalāl al-Dīn has been given the name Rumi in the Arab world, because he lived in Konia, south of Ankara in Turkey while writing his great works. This part of the Arab world was identified with Rome from the Roman Empire. Source: Lewis, Franklin D., Rumi, Past and Present, East and West. Oxford: Oneworld, 2003 p. 9

[4] Free rendering of Poem 78 from: Arberry, A,J, Mystical Poems of  Rūmī, Volume 1. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991 p. 69

[5] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome_(stad)

[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome

[8] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome

Narrator – away from home


Like my father, I travelled from my mother country to another continent to have a better life. I didn’t want to wander around Europe but I decided to live in Amsterdam – a city where men may love men. Finally this intention worked out exactly reversed.

Via the parents of Arjen – named Arjuna by me – I received documents and a visa for the Netherlands. I left my name Kṛṣṇa behind in Kenya. In this way I hoped to leave behind the dark pages in my life in which I lived with the hungry ghosts in hell. This was not successful: in my dreams and in my stories these pages returned for a long time.

[1]

In my passport I have listed as first name Narrator [2]; like my father I wished to have the role of storyteller in life’s story for the audience. As a tribute to my father, I provided the surname Nārāyana [3].

At the end of the school year I resigned as indwelling teacher at the school. I said goodbye to Arjen and his parents and I thanked them for all the help. One of the teachers at school introduced me to a driver who regularly travelled via Nakuru and Lodwar to Jūbā in South Sudan. The driver made contact with a colleague who drove to Khartoum – the capital of Sudan [4]. In Khartoum I could travel to Wadi Halfa, just before the border with Egypt.

My experience and instinct as a soldier were helpful at a roadblock. With yet another bend to go, the driver noticed a checkpoint in the distance just before a town. The driver could not justify my presence. In the bend I could slip out of the truck. Via a detour through the scrub I entered the town. There I met the driver again to continue our travel.

At Wadi Halfa I could start as indwelling servant on a tourist boat on Lake Victoria. This boat travelled to the North. At Abu Simbil I visited the Temple of Ramses II. Here I saw images of rulers from lost times who were venerated as idols in their hubris. On my trip along the Nile I noticed more forms of pride – as dust particles in the universe. At school I learned the first commandment according to the Catholic format from the sisters: “Thou shalt not worship idols, but worship only Me and above all love me”. This “Me” always remained for me the starry Night and the Moon. These images of idols were no match for the sight of the night sky at new moon.

[5]

In Egypt I travelled the Nile with different boats. On the way I saw several pyramids at a distance – for me pointers to the starry Night and the Moon.

[6]

I could pass the Nile delta by boat to Alexandria. In the library of Alexandria, I read all the stories of Scheherazade – the narrator of the stories from “Thousand and one Night”. Every night she came back to life like the Moon was brought to life by the God Engaï [7] in the Maasai myth.

From Alexandria I left Africa. As my father never returned to India, I never came back in Africa. My mother was not able to come to Amsterdam, because she could not leave her herd. I dared not to ask my father, because I was afraid that he would never go back to my mother: I could not inflict that on her.


[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hel_(mythologie)

[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrator

[3] Nārāyana means in Sanskrit: “”Son of the original man”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[4] In Sanskrit “Su” means amongst others “supreme, good, excellent, beautiful, easy” and “Dān” means “to be, making straight.

[5] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboe_Simbel

[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyramid_of_Giza

[7] According to a Maasai myth the God Engaï gives cattle to the people and he brings people to life after their death and each day he lets the Moon die. After a sin wherein an opponent was desired death, Engaï lets people die and each night he brought the Moon to life. Source:  http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

Carla Drift – Behaviour 2


People accept differences in behaviour and in dealing with each other to a certain extent. This acceptance is determined by mutual relationships within a worldview that gives an interpretation to the similarity and differences between people. This worldview also gives an interpretations to the similarities and differences between groups of people. Priests and leaders have a different place in society and they have other habits than labourers. Within a stable society with an uniform worldview, every individual and every group of people experience its place as necessary and appropriate within a higher order. The differences often have an interpretation and a higher purpose in a world order seen as predestined; every woman/man experiences her/his place and her/his life changes as perfectly normal – how extravagant and absurd the situation may seem in the eyes of outsiders.

In Africa men rest in the shade all day – in the Western world people work almost the whole day to sit half an hour in the sun. In Europe a walk to the next village takes a small hour – in Africa a similar walk of the same distance takes over half a day because all social contacts along the road are maintained.

[1]

In the Western – modern industrialized – world many couples life together in a small family consisting of two partners and a few children. The children continue to live in the family house until they are old enough to live independently.

According to the Western ideal, marriage comes forth from a romantic love affair that continues after a few years in a marriage in which – after one year – successively two to four children are born. When the children themselves get married by a romantic love affair, the two partners end up living happy and satisfied together until old age. This small family is pretty mobile to move along with the possibilities that the labour-market can offer.

[2]

The reality is often different than the ideal. First young people explore the world of entering into love relationships; they have a number of loose/fixed relations. After this orientation a partner choice follows for a long-term love affair. This romantic quest costs besides happiness, hope and expectations also disappointments, sadness and headaches; much literature and movies on this topic represent a summary of the difficulties. The starting love gets – with some luck and perseverance – shape in the vow of a long-term living together. After a number of seasons the partners decide to continue the long-term relationship in a marriage or cohabitation agreement. In reality approximately 36% of the marriages end in a divorce [3]. Everyday life does not live up to the common ideal. Within the small family, the relocation of labour to another part of the country is a sensitive event: who of both partners must revise her/his ambition in the labour market. A wedding or cohabitation agreement has also the characteristics of a business agreement in addition to a love relation.

More than half a century ago many people in the Western – agricultural – world lived together in an extended  family [4] where children, parents with their brothers and sisters, and grandparents lived  lifelong under one roof. A number of people died in the same bed in which they were born.

[5]

In this extended family, honour, the reputation of the family and the survival of the house/farm was of great importance for the establishment of good life-long relationships. When the family honour was damaged, it was impossible for potential suitors from the extended family to find adequate life partners. A marriage arrangement was – next to a societal agreement – mainly a business agreement for the extended family. New members joined the extended family with an advance on their legacy and other members left the house with wedding gifts to live in another family. Marriages were often arranged – children were married off.

In some agricultural areas nubile daughters were given the possibility to get pregnant in an outbuilding of the farm. After the pregnancy was visible, the marriage followed immediately. This farming community did not wish to risk the survival of the farm by marriages without offspring. The Christian faith could never eliminate this ancient way of matrimonial agreements with an enlarged guarantee on progenies.

The local community society closely monitored the reputation of the extended families: everything was done to restrain the “biology between people”. Young marriageable women were constantly chaperoned by the close family. In the Catholic South Limburg around 1950, pensions and hotel rooms were checked at the beginning of the night by local police on unwanted extramarital activities. In November 1961 – in the Protestant village Staphorst – a man and a woman were driven by the local inhabitants on a manure cart through the village to their shame for an extramarital relationship [6].

At the end of the sixties an underneath sense of uneasiness in society – partly caused by an increased prosperity and by the availability of contraceptives – gave rise to freer relationships between men and women. Young people were young and alternative and they wanted to explore life and their sexuality more openly. The second-wave feminism also changed the relations between men and women. Young people had more freedom to engage in sexual relationships and there were different ways of cohabitation available. The new possibilities also cause more uncertainties – the society became adrift [7].

In our society most married couples remain monogamous during their marriage. Many other ways of cohabitation also show a large degree of monogamy. Though the number of illegitimate children rapidly increase in Netherlands: between 1985 and 1995, the percentage of children born out of wedlock has risen from over 8% to 16%. Afterwards, the percentage increased from 25% in 2000, 35% in 2005 to 45% in 2009. The reason for this is probably the decline in Christian morality and the increased prosperity with greater autonomy of women [8]. It seems that the sequential monogamy – partners are monogamous within a relationship, but the relationships change over time – increases in our society.

In addition to monogamy, other societies also know polygamy [9] – more women with one man – and polyandry [10] – more men with one woman – or mixtures of both forms. In sparsely populated areas or in societies where a deficit has arisen to one gender, these other forms are necessary for the survival of the population. In the Arab world many warfare with a high mortality of the male population took place; in order to maintain the population, more women married with one husband – in case the husband could maintain these women. In the Caribbean and around Miami men of a particular class are imprisoned for a very long time; women proceed to “passers marriages” with available men – the woman has a relationship with a man as long as this man can care for the woman. In thinly populated areas more men have a lasting relationship with one woman so that better support in education of her children is ensured.

In areas in Africa and in some regions of the Himalayas polyandry takes place. An example is written in the Mahābhārata where on female protagonist – Draupadi – is married to five brothers – five other main characters – after the mother of the five brothers has said that her sons must share what one of the brothers has obtained. The brothers lived successively one year with their wife from which five sons came forth [11].

[12]

Another example of polygamy and polyandry is found at the Maasai in Kenya. Women and men live together in a mixture of polygamy and polyandry. A woman sometimes marries with an age group of men. A man is expected to give up his marriage bed to a guest/age mate – only the woman decides whether she wants to share the bed with the guest. All children of the woman are also the children of the spouse [13].

Bigamy, polygamy, polyandry and marriages between equal sexes are prohibited in many countries. Often there is a traditional taboo on uncommon forms of cohabitation. Many societies do everything – including banishment, hell and damnation – to eradicate unfamiliar cohabitation. Are other forms of cohabitation seen as inferior and unethical in order to suppress one’s own uncertainty and covert wishes for change? Or is it easy to regard other forms of cohabitation as an inferior cohabitation and as a consequence as deficit and unethical [14]? At tension and conflicts, there is the desire to demonstrate this inferiority and deficit of the others. Or, as Prof. Dr. W. Luijpen said in his lectures at the Technical University in Delft: “Evidence is compelling that others have to bend their knees “. This compelling may proceed in a stigma and the search for scapegoats within our neighbours. The tension may spiral in an armed conflict with massacres. Isn’t  accepting other ways of cohabitation – and the acceptance of the uncertainty and tensions about our own way of cohabitation – a better solution?

[1] Source image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mt_Uluguru_and_Sisal_plantations.jpg

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Old_marriage_at_Plac_Kaszubski.jpg

[3]  The Catholic Church recognises three grounds for divorce: death of one of the partners, “non- consummation the marriage” and a prolonged absence of one partner without a forecast on a return. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce

[4] Source image:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_family

[5]  Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FamiliaOjeda.JPG

[6] Source: Nieuwblad van het Noorden, 13 november 1961 – pagina 1.

[7] See also: Drift, Carla, Man Leben – One Life, A Biography. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 44 – 47.

[8] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buitenechtelijk_kind

[9] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamie

[10] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyandry

[11] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabharata

[12] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2716_PandavaDraupadifk.jpg.jpg

[13] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people

[14] See also: Agar, Michael, Language Shock – Understanding the Culture of Conversation. New York: Perennial, 1994, 2002, p. 23, 37