Headwind, Laxmi’s Story – still available.

In 2011 and early 2012 I wrote the English language novel ‘Headwind, Laxmi’s Story’ about a young Bhutanese woman who was born in a refugee camp in Nepal after her parents were exiled from the supposed to be Shangri-La country Bhutan. Laxmi was resettled by the UNHCR (United Nations refugee agency) to the Netherlands. In her story she looks back at het past life in the camp and tells about her struggle to create a new life in a society that is alien to her. And all the time she longs for her true love, the boy she grew up with in the camp and who now lives in the United States as a resettler.

Headwind, Laxmi’s Story is about coming of age in between cultures, about the life as a refugee and a migrant. About having to struggle for a decent life and about a love that seems impossible. It’s about the caste system that is a fundament underneath the Hindu society and the changes that come when people are taken from their home, their country, culture an religion and implanted in a modern society. But above all it’s a story about a young woman with a difficult past who fights her way through life, like most refugees do.

Headwind, Laxmi’s Story is still available through mailorder in the Empowerment Foundation’s bookshop or directly through me. Here you’ll find the first chapter of the novel to get a grip with the story of Laxmi. Click here for Headwind, Laxmi’s Story Sample. You can buy the book here. All earnings are donated to the Empowerment Foundation in support of their empowerment project.

headwind front coverHeadwind, Laxmi’s Story Sample

 

 

I don not want to live in the Netherlands.

My dearest friends in the Netherlands know it and a few even understand it. Most of my Bhutanese and Nepali friends do either not know it and when they do they certainly do not understand it. The fact that I do not want to live (or die) in the Netherlands, the land I was born and raised and have lived for almost all my life.

Jan Jacob Slauerhoff

Many years ago a great Dutch novelist and poet wrote a poem explaining his feelings. His name was Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (1898-1936). A writer who studied medicine, became doctor and started writing. He later enlisted as ships surgeon at a Dutch boat company and made many journeys to the far east. He’d seen China, Japan, Hong Kong and the Dutch Indies (now Indonesia) many times. His confrontation with Asia changed his life to the extend that he in the end detested the land he was born and raised in. Much the same like me at this point in my life. He returned to the Netherlands, went to South America, returned again. To Italy, to Tangier, to South Africa. He got malaria and tuberculosis and returned to the Netherlands in stead of Italy again and died in a nursing home in a small town in the middle of the country at the early age of 38 years. And although he had desired a seamans grave he was cremated at a cemetary where many literarians were either cremated or buried. Jan Jacob Slauerhoff was one of the last true Dutch literary bohemians and was for many years an inspiration for me in both work and life. He still is now I am slowly becoming yet another bohemienne who is detached from her motherland.

When people read and understand his poem ‘I don’t want to live in the Netherlands’ they might very well understand me. So here it is in English translation. Or at least my attempt to that which is by no means easy to do. Underneath the English version one can read the Dutch version which is extremely poetic and intense and shows the feelings of someone touched by travel to the far east and observing the ignorance and stupidity in the Netherlands. If I would have had the talent to write like him it could have been my poem. The rhyme didn’t survive translation, the intentions and intense feelings however did. After all I might be a novelist and a poet but I am from another time and another quality. I wish I would have been able to talk with him sometime.

In the Netherlands I do not want to live,
One has to constantly fulfill ones desires there,
Because of the neighbours,
Who eagerly peep through every hole.
I’d rather go living in the steppe,
Where one is not hindered by his next of kin:
For the crying of my lusts no heron will hasten itself,
No fox will accelerate its pace.

In the Netherlands I do not want to die,
and putrify in wet soil,
On which one never has lived.
I’d rather wander aching
And end up with the nomads.
My compatriots mock me: “He is a failure.”
Yes, that I could not damage them (any)more,
Has in liberty dejected me too often.

In the Netherlands I do not want to live
One always has to strive for something,
Think of the well being of ones fellow-creature,
Only in hiding one is allowed to affront.
But not thrash a face so it clatters,
Just because I don’t like that feature.
Abuse someone without a reason
Testifiess of loose morale.

I do not want to live in narrow houses.
That have thrown uglyness in towns and villages
by the thousands…
There they all walk with a stiff collar
– Not from style, but to show off
That one knows how it should be –
On Sundays to greet each other
Through streets in black parades.

In the Netherlands I do not want to stay,
I would grow fat and stiffen up.
It is too calm there for me, too dignified,
One speaks slowly there, never gets vehement,
And never dances on the feeble rope.
But the defenceless are tormented,
Never is such a lumpish farmers head decapitated,
And never, no never happens a great crime of passion.

J.J. Slauerhoff – translation Alice Verheij © 2012

In Nederland wil ik niet leven,
Men moet er steeds zijn lusten reven,
Ter wille van de goede buren,
Die gretig door elk gaatje gluren.
‘k Ga liever leven in de steppen,
Waar men geen last heeft van zijn naasten:
Om ‘t krijschen van mijn lust zal zich geen reiger reppen,
Geen vos zijn tred verhaasten.

In Nederland wil ik niet sterven,
En in de natte grond bederven
Waarop men nimmer heeft geleefd.
Dan blijf ik liever hunkrend zwerven
En kom terecht bij de nomaden.
Mijn landgenooten smaden mij: ,,Hij is mislukt.”
Ja, dat ik hen niet meer kon schaden,
Heeft mij in vrijheid nog te vaak bedrukt.

In Nederland wil ik niet leven,
Men moet er altijd naar iets streven,
Om ‘t welzijn van zijn medemenschen denken.
In het geniep slechts mag men krenken,
Maar niet een facie ranslen dat het knalt,
Alleen omdat die trek mij niet bevalt.
Iemand mishandlen zonder reden
Getuigt van tuchtelooze zeden.

Ik wil niet in die smalle huizen wonen.
Die leelijkheid in steden en in dorpen
Bij duizendtallen heeft geworpen…
Daar loopen allen met een stijve boord
– Uit stijlgevoel niet, om te toonen
Dat men wel weet hoe het behoort –
Des Zondags om elkaar te groeten
De straten door in zwarte stoeten.

In Nederland wil ik niet blijven,
Ik zou dichtgroeien en verstijven.
Het gaat mij daar te kalm, te deftig,
Men spreekt er langzaam, wordt nooit heftig,
En danst nooit op het slappe koord.
Wel worden weerloozen gekweld,
Nooit wordt zoo’n plompe boerenkop gesneld,
En nooit, neen nooit gebeurt een mooie passiemoord.

New flyer for Headwind available for immediate distribution.

In a last CALL FOR ACTION the Headwind production team is working together with the new eu1.tv pan European tv channel (available on cable and internet) by Ziggo and UPC. In the coming week both the new trailer as a new way of crowdfunding will be published on the eu1.tv website. To support that effort we will distribute flyers on the Movies That Matter film festival starting off in The Hague on March 22 at the Filmhuis.

Alice
director and producer of Headwind 

This is the flyer:

Short trailer of Headwind released today.

Today the short trailer of Headwind is released with a call for support and funding.
More information about the film can be found at http://www.headwindfilm.com.
The trailer will be published on http://www.eu1.tv too later today.

We still need substantial funding for the completion of this film.

Alice
director of Headwind

If I could not tell you…

Today it is exactly 1 month ago that I had to leave my love behind in Nepal. Since that sad day my mind has been with her every hour, minute and second of the day. This lovesong translated by me from the beautiful Afrikaner language version I dedicate to my love and my heart.

Just a little love song in the works. I’m in that mood today, I wonder why (well not really…). So this is Amanda Strydom’s beautiful ‘Hoe ek voel’ in English… Some changes might still be made in the coming days. I love this song! Original lyrics in Afrikaans by Johannes Kerkorrel, the gay singer who in the aftermath of the Apartheid regime in South Africa was so controversial that he was banned from radio. He ended his life some years later under still unclear circumstances. His inheritance is one of wonderfully crafted and sometimes lyrical songs that still touch the hearts of many. Further on you can listen to the original on YouTube.

So here’s my English language version:

If I could not tell you

So if I could not tell you
If I could not let you see
I would order a portrait painter
To make a painting of thee
And if he would finally finish
If he would finish his masterpiece
You would know, you would know
That what I did, didn’t show

How I feel, how I feel, for you!

If I could not let you see
If I could not let you read
I would rent a fax machine
And send poems made by me
And if you then would receive
If you read and can believe
You would know, you would know
That what I did, didn’t show
How I feel, how I feel, for you!

If I could not let you read
If I could not let you hear
I would send a choir to you
A serenade in the evening late
And if you would wake up then
And throw your windows wide open
You would know, you would know
That what I did, didn’t show
How I feel, how I feel, for you!

You would know, you would know this
You would know this, you would know
That what I did, didn’t show
How I feel, how I feel, for you!

Original music and lyrics: Johannes Kerkorrel
English lyrics: Alice Verheij © 2012

Alice © 2012

When I close my eyes.

The rice fields just north west of Damak, Jhapa district, Nepal

When I close my eyes

 

When I close my eyes

I see paddy fields of rice

Against a stage of blue hazed mountains

 

Small clusters of leaves

In rhythmic pattern

Growing in square ponds filled with rain

 

I see oxen and a plough

And hear the man shout

Synchronous with the animals breath

 

A schoolboy on a bicycle

Slowly crosses my view

From left to right with a youthful smile

 

The rope in my hands

Of the bucket in the well

Gives me something at least to hold on to

 

While my mouth tastes

Freshly plucked mango

Mixed with cardamom scented black tea

 

And your soft hands strike

My arm with the sensual

Brief touch of an unspoken tender love

 

Alice © 2012