Friday, September 24, 2010

Door Duistermis tot Licht

It is presumptuous for us to play "mother," and with children who are older than we; but what does age matter? Every one needs love, the grey-beard as well as the child.

Should a woman only exclusively through marriage be able to come to her right — to the full awakening of the best gifts of her soul? because the highest and most sacred glory of woman is motherhood. But then must a woman be obliged to have a child of her own in order to be a true mother — a being who is all love and sacrifice? If that is true, how pitifully shallow is the idea of the world that it is only a piece of oneself that one can love better than oneself. There are so many who are called mothers only because they have brought children into the world, but beyond that they are not worthy of the name. A woman that gives all the love that is in her heart to others, with no thought of herself is, in a spiritual sense — mother. We set the spiritual mother higher than the physical.

We hope and pray fervently that later if it is granted us to realize our ideals, and we stand at the head of a school, our children will not call us "mother" as a matter of form, but because they feel that we are mothers.

We hope that Anneka will find cordial, affectionate people at Buitenzurg, who will make up to the poor lonely child for the lack of a mother and of a home of her own. Anneka lived our Javanese live with us here. I wish that you could have taken a peep at the little comer behind the door, where Anneka sat on the ground with us in such a sisterly manner. One evening she sat by us in our chamber, at the low table where I am now writing; she sewed, we wrote. There was still a fourth in the circle — a friend of ours. She read aloud or rather sang to us. You know of course, that all of our books are written in poetic metre, flower-tongue as we say, and they are meant to be sung.

Doors and windows were open. Outside the chamber there bloomed a tjempaka tree; its perfume came to us on the soft wind. The voice was gentle and tender, the song was sweet to our listening ears. It carried our souls back to the far distant past, to the golden age of barbaric splendour, and of men and women who were wise and beautiful and strong.

We bit our pen-holders absently — much oftener than we made them fly over the white paper, and amid these wholly Javanese surroundings, there between brown children of the Sunny Land, sat a pale daughter of the West. Oh how gladly would we have you, even so, among us.

We have learned the songs too, and if we were not bashful, we would sing and dream before you.

Yesterday Annie did something typically Javanese. She was so anxious to go away from Japara, we said to her "Ask the help of the Soenan of Kantingan, promise him an offering of flowers, if your wish comes true." So she did.

Day before yesterday evening we spoke of it, and the next morning she went with us to make her offering. We went there with a band of priests to the holy grave, and we took flowers and incense with us.

Anneka went with us into the building over the grave and sat with us on the ground at the foot of the tomb. Incense burned, and a mystic buzzing rose at first softly but gradually louder from the priestly choir. It was solemn and impressive. We sat with lowered heads and listened to the murmur of the mystic prayer, while blue clouds of incense rose upwards.

One of the priests creeping forward on the ground brought Anneka's flowers and laid them reverently on the grave of the Soenan, and after diat on the other graves. Next to me I heard a snickering. It was Anneka! Barefooted as a mark of reverence, she had come with us into the building. For it is our custom to look upon the dead as holy, and to show them reverence.

We then went to the little stream behind the churchyard to wash our feet. We asked the priest for Heaven's blessing for Anneka.

Dearest, we should so love to have you here, so that you could live our native life with us. There is so much that is touching in our Javanese life; especially in the honour that we show to our dead and to our parents. Nothing ever happens in our lives of any importance, either of joy or of sorrow, that we do not think of our dead. Anneka will remember Japara when she sits high and dry at Buitenzorg, although she may be a thousand times better off there than here. They that have known Japara; who have seen its soul, can never forget it. They must think of it again and again, whether it is with love or whether it is with hate.

Letters of a Javanese Princess: Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang Raden Adjeng Kartini September 2nd, 1902

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