| My name is Laverne Van Ryk, and I am the author of A Garland of Emeralds. The main character, Jasmine, expresses my memories and feelings of that time. I've always felt a lack of a sense of identity, because I don't have a "native land". It has disappeared in the smoke and fire of war and revolution.
I was born on the island Java in the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia. After some years in various places, it became clear that war was imminent. The Japanese invaded the islands in March 1942 and we spent three-and-a-half years in several concentration camps, separated from my father. The Japanese surrendered in August 1945. We jumped for joy when we heard the war was over, and could see my father again! But the war was followed by an untidy peace. Reunited with my father, I hoped to start my life again where I had left off, but Indonesian nationalism had grown, and the Dutch were in the middle of a violent Revolution for Independence. In May 1946 our whole family repatriated to Holland.
Many Dutch people who have lived through that time in the Indies and who were incarcerated by the Japanese during World War II, experienced the same trauma, but continued with their lives. Others continued to be plagued by their bad memories and to feel alienated. As time went by I came to understand that courage, optimism and faith can survive in the midst of negative and trying circumstances.
My experiences caused me to look deeper into the reasons why wars and revolutions happen and I became interested in history in general and in colonial times in particular. I began to study the ways a particular colonial situation comes to an end. Also, my interest extended to multicultural and racial relationships
After five years in Holland, our family immigrated to Canada where I married and raised a family of my own. After the premature death of my husband, I earned B.Ed and B.A degrees. and an M.Sc. degree in linguistics. However, writing has remained my major interest. God has blessed me, and Canada is a marvelous country whose people accepted me the way I was. I live in Edmonton. Alberta, Canada.