Laverne Boulogne Van Ryk
A Garland Of Emeralds

Just Memories?

It's My Garland Of Emeralds!

I remember the stinking, smoke blowing steam train which took us to the Mission where my life began. The hissing kerosene lamps on the bamboo veranda belonged in that bamboo world. I remember afternoon teatime, sitting on my hassock near the window in the living room of the house we lived in after we moved from the Mission. I was holding a warm cup of tea, looking at the bright orange marigolds and purple pansies. Then there were the monsoon rains, crackling thunder and screaming wind, steady streams of water rattling on the roof, then down like a curtain into the yard. I listened to the wind and watched raindrops splash against the window.

Evenings after Pearl Harbor we often sat on the veranda, listening to war news on the radio, while the horizon sombered to a purplish brown, with the moon rising as an enormous yellow melon in the sky. I remember the forest with big red flamboyant flowers flaming against the leaves, and whispering a secret life of its own, rustling with small life. I remember fresh mountain air embracing me and flowers scattering smells through the warm air. I remember trains rolling through the evening land, lighted snakes crawling towards far away places. There were voices in the rolling of the train, promising marvelous things in the future. All this belonged to my land, Java, which I was forced to leave.

Canada with its mountains, forests and wild rivers is more like the Indies than like Holland. In the foothills near Calgary I see terraced rice fields and palm trees, with rivers and waterfalls. The Rockies are the basket of mountains on Java. Tsawassen ferry terminal is the harbor of Tandjong Priok at Batavia. The ferry is the Indrapura which sailed us to Holland.

I have carried my memories of the "Garland of Emeralds" with me to Holland and to Canada. The present is linked to the past with an unbreakable chain. They have shaped my life. My memories are a part of me. That's why I have to concentrate on the good ones. Canada is the place I have made my home, but there is a triangle, a three-way connection: Java, Holland and Canada, which became linked in my mind. What is wonderful about memories is that you can jump from one to another. In seconds I can link Java to Holland, to Canada. My memories are linked to my identity. They are always there. I can say, "That's me!" I am a privileged person!