photo: ‘Birds of a feather’ (Reims Cathedral, France) © 2012 Alice Anna Verheij
I woke up
Had to weep
Don’t know why
So I wrote a poem
And went back to sleep
For another couple of hours
Killing my wretched nightly doubts
About this unanswered love
My hopes that leave me
Without the words
I wish to say
© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij
I have no experience in this. Like most people this simply never happened to me and so I never had reason to think about what to do and what is needed to make it come true. My mother died almost two years ago and it changed my life. I had become an orphan since my father passed away ten years ago. When your father dies it leaves a gap but when your mother dies it leaves a vault. A gap that is so big that there is now way it can be filled. Since then there is no elder who can guide me, advice me on what to do or not to do. No one related to me that has enough authority to question my decisions or my feelings. No one to let me make that reality check that parents often force upon their childrens ideas.
So I changed my life once more. I started working on things that no one seemed to care about. A book and a film about a group of people in a far away land to whom I do not have any relationship or obligation. A group in danger of being forgotten in history, washed away in time and overlooked by politics and media. A group of people of no importance to the selfish western world. And I went there. I’ve been to the camps, talked to them, interviewed them, filmed their life in those horrendous camps. Filmed their new life in my country, freshly started after resettlement. And while in the country where their camps are I lost my heart. Nepal grabbed it to keep it.
I lost my heart first to the cause of unveiling the reality of the Bhutanese exiles to the world that’s so uninformed or misinformed about what has happened and how things are. And while working there I lost my heart to the land itself. To the amazing beauty of the Terai flatlands filled with rice fields and field of mustarde plants or sesame plants. With mountains in the distance hiding the dramatic landscape in the north while in the monsoon these mountains bring clouds filled with rain. The land of fireflies in summer dancing and hovering above the fields while the mango’s are ripe and pregnant of sweet and tasty juices. Coconut trees around the farms keeping the house cool and protected from wind and heat. With only a water well and a few hours of electricity available for the daily needs. And in the end I lost my heart for the third time to someone very special.
So here I am in the cold wet winter underneath grey skies and with a nightly frost on the streets. In the middel of a city with cars, trams, busses and bikes. With buildings higher than three storeys and offices everywhere where people go in in the morning and come out in the afternoon. A meaningless city. On my editing desk is a computer and a big screen. They show me images of rice fields and bamboo huts, the speakers let me hear the sounds of the camps, the towns and the landscape. I hear birds again, thousands. Sometimes so loud that they cover the sounds of the crickets and the people. Without knowing I can even smell the food being prepared and that so typical smell of a small farm. I smell the woodwork of the house and my feet feel the planks creaking and bending while my mind steps on them. Someone makes tea with too much sugar in it and when evening falls it only takes a few hours before the power goes and load shedding starts throwing darkness over the place. Candles and little oil lamps are suddenly there and the voices dim. The two of us leave for our room, the door closes and the conversation becomes more intimate. We talk and talk, knowing that in the end I will have to leave. Both of us not wanting to think of that moment that is inevitably there.
I wake up from my daydream and switch on my computer, checking a website. She’s there. We chat. And I know it’s a matter of time and effort and decisions to be made before we will be together again. I know, she knows, that we will. Some day soon. Will it be forgood? Shall I make the decision? Shall I go? Shall I? Can I accept that the decision is actually already made by me? It only takes one decision to go. Just one decision. I guess I made it when I left sometime ago. She knows, and I know, what will happen next.
Alice © 2012
A patch of blue sky
Though my mind is mostly grey today
there’s this patch of blue sky far away
And even when thoughts are hindering
there’s something distant flickering
When presence has become abstract
it’s a voice by which my heart reacts
Even distance cannot keep us apart
because we share each others heart
Alice © 2012
painting by Deborah Mattson
When monsoon comes and evening falls
over rice fields lying endlessly at our feet.
When heat is in our hearts and calls
and the sounds of peace are in the street.
When thoughts are flowing like the water
of a stream far away behind the trees.
When worries and pain are left for later
and conversations simply silenced with tea.
When our eyes are searching each other eyes
and our hands briefly touch each others face.
When our gestures have won from our lies
and joy has filled our hearts and days.
When the thunder sounds in distant hills
like mandal drums at a demon’s feast.
When at last we can breath and live at will
and feel each others warm hearts beat.
When fireflies dance above the rice fields
and my eyes can see their rhythmic blinks.
Then I will know again how true love feels
and realize my heart too, has firefly wings.
Alice © 2011